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Heather Throop

Heather Throop

Associate Professor, School of Earth and Space Exploration, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


School of Earth and Space Exploration
Arizona State University
PO Box 871404
Tempe, AZ 85287-1404


  • Senior Sustainability Scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability
  • Associate Professor, School of Earth and Space Exploration, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • Associate Professor, School of Life Sciences, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • Affiliated Faculty, Center for Biodiversity Outcomes, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability


Heather Throop is an ecosystem scientist who studies how global-scale changes influence arid and semi-arid ecosystems. She has a joint appointment in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and the School of Life Sciences at ASU. She is also co-director of the Environmental Life Sciences PhD program.

Professor Throop studies how carbon and nutrients cycle through plants, soils, and the atmosphere. Much of her work addresses how these cycles respond to human-caused changes in the environment, such as climate change and changing human land use.
Her work is primarily based in arid and semi-arid environments. These 'drylands' contain a large and rapidly increasing portion of the world's human population, particularly in developing nations where human livelihoods are often tightly linked to sustainable use of drylands. Throop's current projects includes work in drylands sites in Arizona, New Mexico, eastern Oregon, Australia and Namibia.


  • PhD, State University of New York-Stony Brook, 2002


Journal Articles


Predick, K., S. R. Archer, S. M. Aguillon, D. A. Keller, H. L. Throop and P. W. Barnes. 2018. UV-B radiation and shrub canopy effects on surface litter decomposition in a shrub-invaded dry grassland. Journal of Arid Environments 157:13-21. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaridenv.2018.06.007. (link )

Smith, J. G. and H. L. Throop. 2018. Animal generation of green leaf litter in an arid shrubland enhances decomposition by altering litter quality and location. Journal of Arid Environments 151:15-22. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaridenv.2017.11.003. (link )

Throop, H. L. and K. Lajtha. 2018. Spatial and temporal changes in ecosystem carbon pools following juniper encroachment and removal. Biogeochemistry 140(3):373-388. DOI: 10.1007/s10533-018-0498-y. (link )


Hewins, D. B., R. L. Sinsabaugh, S. R. Archer and H. L. Throop. 2017. Soil-littering mixing and microbial activity mediate decomposition and soil aggregate formation in a sandy shrub-invaded Chihuahuan Desert grassland. Plant Ecology 218(4):459-474. DOI: 10.1007/s11258-017-0703-4. (link )

Joly, F., K. L. Kurupas and H. L. Throop. 2017. Pulse frequency and soil-litter mixing alter the control of cumulative precipitation over litter decomposition. Ecology 98(9):2255-2260. DOI: 10.1002/ecy.1931. (link )

Throop, H. L., M. A. Salem and W. G. Whitford. 2017. Fire enhances litter decomposition and reduces vegetation cover influences on decomposition in a dry woodland. Plant Ecology 218(7):799-811. DOI: 10.1007/s11258-017-0730-1. (link )


DeMarco, J., T. Filley and H. L. Throop. 2016. Patterns of woody plant-derived soil carbon losses and persistence after brush management in a semi-arid grassland. Plant and Soil 406(1):277-293. DOI: 10.1007/s11104-016-2880-7. (link )

Hewins, D. B. and H. L. Throop. 2016. Leaf litter decomposition is rapidly enhanced by the cooccurrence of monsoon rainfall and soil-litter mixing across a gradient of coppice dune development in the Chihuahuan Desert.. Journal of Arid Environments 129(Jun):111-118. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaridenv.2016.02.014. (link )

Kardol, P., H. L. Throop, J. Adkins and M. de Graaff. 2016. A hierarchical framework for studying the role of biodiversity in soil food web processes and ecosystem services. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 102(Nov):33-36. DOI: 10.1016/j.soilbio.2016.05.002. (link )

Simkin, S. M., E. B. Allen, W. D. Bowman, C. M. Clark, J. Belnap, M. L. Brooks, B. S. Cade, S. L. Collins, L. H. Geiser, F. S. Gilliam, S. E. Jovan, L. H. Pardo, B. K. Schulz, C. J. Stevens, K. N. Suding, H. L. Throop and D. M. Waller. 2016. Conditional vulnerability of plant diversity to atmospheric nitrogen deposition across the United States. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 113(15):4086-4091. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1515241113. (link )


de Graaff, M., J. Adkins, P. Kardol and H. L. Throop. 2015. A meta-analysis of soil biodiversity impacts on the carbon cycle. SOIL 1:257-271. DOI: 10.5194/soil-1-257-2015. (link )

Monger, C., O. E. Sala, M. C. Duniway, H. Goldfus, I. A. Meir, R. M. Poch, H. L. Throop and E. R. Vivoni. 2015. Legacy effects in linked ecological-soil-geomorphic systems of drylands. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 13(1):13-19. DOI: 10.1890/140269. (link )

Okin, G. S., M. Moreno-de las Heras, P. M. Saco, H. L. Throop, E. R. Vivoni, A. J. Parsons, J. Wainwright and D. P. Peters. 2015. Connectivity in dryland landscapes: Shifting concepts of spatial interactions. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 13(1):20-27. DOI: 10.1890/140163. (link )

Soliveres, S., D. J. Eldridge, J. D. Muller, F. Hemmings and H. L. Throop. 2015. On the interaction between tree canopy position and environmental effects on soil attributes and plant communities. Journal of Vegetation Science 26(6):1030-1042. DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12312. (link )

Wang, L., H. L. Throop and T. Gill. 2015. A novel method to continuously monitor litter moisture - a microcosm-based experiment. Journal of Arid Environments 115(Apr):10-13. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaridenv.2014.12.011. (link )


de Graaff, M., H. L. Throop, P. S. Verburg, J. A. Arnone III and X. Campos. 2014. A synthesis of climate and vegetation cover effects on biogeochemical cycling in shrub-dominated drylands. Ecosystems 17(5):931-945. DOI: 10.1007/s10021-014-9764-6. (link )

Lee, H., J. Fitzgerald, D. B. Hewins, R. L. McCulley, S. R. Archer, T. Rahn and H. L. Throop. 2014. Soil moisture and soil-litter mixing effects on surface litter decomposition: A controlled environment assessment. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 72(May):123-132. DOI: 10.1016/j.soilbio.2014.01.027. (link )


Daryanto, S., D. J. Eldridge and H. L. Throop. 2013. Managing semi-arid woodlands for carbon storage: Grazing and shrub effects on above- and belowground carbon. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 169(Apr):1-11. DOI: 10.1016/j.agee.2013.02.001. (link )

Hewins, D. B., S. R. Archer, G. S. Okin, R. L. McCulley and H. L. Throop. 2013. Soil-litter mixing accelerates decomposition in a Chihuahuan Desert grassland. Ecosystems 16(2):183-195. DOI: 10.1007/s10021-012-9604-5. (link )

Throop, H. L., K. Lajtha and M. Kramer. 2013. Density fractionation and 13C reveal changes in soil carbon following woody encroachment in a desert ecosystem. Biogeochemistry 112(1):409-422. DOI: 10.1007/s10533-012-9735-y. (link )


Barnes, P. W., H. L. Throop, D. B. Hewins, M. L. Abbene and S. R. Archer. 2012. Soil coverage reduces photodegradation and promotes the development of soil-microbial films on dryland leaf litter. Ecoystems 15(2):311-321. DOI: 10.1007/s10021-011-9511-1. (link )

Lee, H., T. Rahn and H. L. Throop. 2012. A novel source of atmospheric H2: Abiotic degradation of organic material. Biogeosciences 9(11):4411-4419. DOI: 10.5194/bg-9-4411-2012. (link )

Lee, H., T. Rahn and H. L. Throop. 2012. An accounting of C-based trace gas release during abiotic plant litter degradation. Golbal Change Biology 18(3):1185-1195. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2011.02579.x. (link )

Smith, J. G., D. J. Eldridge and H. L. Throop. 2012. Landform and vegetation patch type moderate the effects of grazing-induced disturbance on carbon and nitrogen pools in a semi-arid woodland. Plant and Soil 360(1):405-419. DOI: 10.1007/s11104-012-1288-2. (link )

Throop, H. L., S. R. Archer, H. C. Monger and S. Waltman. 2012. When bulk density methods matter: Implications for estimating soil organic carbon pools in rocky soils. Journal of Arid Environments 77(Feb):66-71. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaridenv.2011.08.020. (link )

Throop, H. L., L. G. Reichmann, O. E. Sala and S. R. Archer. 2012. Response of dominant grass and shrub species to water manipulation: An ecophysiological basis for shrub invasion in a Chihuahuan Desert grassland. Oecologia 169(2):373-383. DOI: 10.1007/s00442-011-2217-4. (link )


Funk, J. L. and H. L. Throop. 2010. Enemy release and plant invasion: Patterns of defensive traits and leaf damage in Hawaii. Oecologia 162(4):815-823. DOI: 10.1007/s00442-009-1497-4. (link )


Nafus, A. M., M. P. McClaran, S. R. Archer and H. L. Throop. 2009. Multi-species allometric models predict grass biomass in a semi-desert rangeland. Rangeland Ecology & Management 62(1):68-72. DOI: 10.2111/08-003. (link )


Throop, H. L. and S. R. Archer. 2008. Shrub (Prosopis velutina) encroachment in a semi-desert grassland: Spatial-temporal changes in soil organic carbon and nitrogen pools. Global Change Biology 14(10):2420-2431. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2008.01650.x. (link )


Throop, H. L. and S. R. Archer. 2007. Interrelationships among shrub encroachment, land management, and litter decomposition in a semidesert grassland. Ecological Applications 17(6):1809-1823. DOI: 10.1890/06-0889.1. (link )


Fay, P. A. and H. L. Throop. 2005. Branching responses in Silphium integrifolium (Asteraceae) following mechanical or gall damage to apical meristems and neighbor removal. American Journal of Botany 92(6):954-959. DOI: 10.3732/ajb.92.6.954. (link )

Funk, J. L., C. G. Jones, D. W. Gray, H. L. Throop, L. A. Hyatt and M. T. Lerdau. 2005. Variation in isoprene emission from Quercus rubra: Sources, causes, and consequences for estimating fluxes. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres 110:D04301. DOI: 10.1029/2004JD005229. (link )

Throop, H. L. 2005. Nitrogen deposition and herbivory affect biomass production and allocation in an annual plant. Oikos 111(1):91-100. DOI: 10.1111/j.0030-1299.2005.14026.x. (link )


Throop, H. L., E. A. Holland, W. J. Parton, D. S. Ojima and C. A. Keough. 2004. Effects of nitrogen deposition and insect herbivory on patterns of ecosystem-level carbon and nitrogen dynamics: Results from the CENTURY model. Global Change Biology 10(7):1092-1105. DOI: 10.1111/j.1529-8817.2003.00791.x. (link )

Throop, H. L. and M. T. Lerdau. 2004. Effects of nitrogen deposition on insect herbivory: Implications for community and ecosystem processes. Ecosystems 7(2):109-133. DOI: 10.1007/s10021-003-0225-x. (link )


Lerdau, M. and H. L. Throop. 2000. Sources of variability in isoprene emission and photosynthesis in two species of tropical wet forest trees. Biotropica 32(4a):670-676. DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-7429.2000.tb00514.x. (link )


Lerdau, M. T. and H. L. Throop. 1999. Isoprene emission and photosynthesis in a tropical forest canopy: Implications for model development. Ecological Applications 9(4):1109-1117. DOI: 10.2307/2641381. (link )

Throop, H. L. and P. A. Fay. 1999. Effects of fire, browsers, and gallers on New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus herbaceous) growth and reproduction. The American Midland Naturalist 141(1):51-58. (link )


Hinman, K. E., H. L. Throop, K. L. Adams, A. J. Dake, K. K. McLauchlan and M. J. McKone. 1997. Predation by free-ranging birds on partial coral snake mimics: The importance of ring width and color. Evolution 51(3):1011-1014. DOI: 10.2307/2411177. (link )

Book Chapters


Barnes, P. W., H. L. Throop, S. R. Archer, D. D. Breshears, R. L. McCulley and M. A. Tobler. 2015. Sunlight and soil-litter mixing: Drivers of litter decomposition in drylands. Pp. 273-302 In: Luttge, U. and W. Beyschlag eds., Progress in Botany. Springer International Publishing. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-08807-5_11. ISBN: 978-3-319-08806-8.


Clark, C. M., Y. Bai, W. D. Bowman, J. M. Cowles, M. E. Fenn, F. S. Gilliam, G. K. Phoenix, B. Siddique, C. J. Stevens, H. U. Sverdrup and H. L. Throop. 2013. Nitrogen deposition and terrestrial biodiversity. Pp. 519-536 In: Levin, S. A. ed., Encyclopedia of Biodiversity. Vol 5. Academic Press. Waltham, MA.


Throop, H. L. and S. R. Archer. 2009. Resolving the dryland decomposition conundrum: Some new perspectives on potential drivers. Pp. 171-194 In: Luttge, U., W. Beyschlag, B. Budel and D. Francis eds., Progress in Botany. Vol 70. Springer Berlin Heidelberg. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-540-68421-3_8. ISBN: 978-3-540-68420-6.



Joly, F. and H. L. Throop. 2017. Pulse size, frequency and soil-litter mixing alter the control of cumulative precipitation over litter decomposition in drylands. Presentation at the Annual Meeting Portland ESA 2017, August 6-11, 2017, Portland, OR. (link )

McCulley, R. L., J. A. Nelson, K. Predick, E. M. Levi, P. W. Barnes, H. L. Throop and S. R. Archer. 2017. UV radiation stimulates but soil-litter mixing reduces fungal role in dryland litter decomposition. Presentation at the Annual Meeting Portland ESA 2017, August 6-11, 2017, Portland, OR. (link )