Yavitt joined the Department of Natural Resources in 1988. His education focused on biogeochemistry and the ecology of forest, wetland, and desert ecosystems.
Yavitt's research seeks to describe and explain relationships and feedbacks between biodiversity and biogeochemical processes in forest and wetland ecosystems. It is a compelling question: how do plant species and the uncounted diversity of smaller organisms in soil influence biogeochemical phenomena, such as nutrient cycling, litter decomposition, and the production and consumption of atmospheric greenhouse gases? Knowing how species composition in a community changes in time has tremendous potential to predict rates of biogeochemical processes, both in the past and in the future. Research sites range from boreal wetlands to tropical forests.
Yavitt's teaching goals are to help students learn the process of science and how science is used in the management of natural resources and environmental problems. To this end, his courses encompass biological, physical, chemical, and social sciences. Environmental Conservation (NTRES 2010) examines a host of environmental issues facing society; Global Biodiversity (NTRES 3220) is an in-depth understanding of biodiversity through time; and, Introduction to Biogeochemistry (EAS 3030) examines nutrient and carbon cycles in detail.
Awards and Honors
- Teaching Award of Merit (2013) National Association of Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture
- Teaching Award of Merit (2002) National Association of Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture
- Corteselli, E. M., Burtis, J. C., Heinz, A. K., & Yavitt, J. B. (2017). Leaf litter fuels methanogenesis throughout decomposition in a forested peatland. Ecosystems. 20:1217-1232.
- Kulkarni, M. V., Yavitt, J. B., & Groffman, P. M. (2017). Rapid conversion of added nitrate to nitrous oxide and dinitrogen in a northern forest soil. Geomicrobiology Journal. 34:670-676.
- Browne, P., Tamaki, H., Kyrpides, N., Woyke, T., Goodwin, L., Imachi, H., Bräuer, S., Yavitt, J. B., Liu, W. T., Zinder, S., & Cadillo-Quiroz, H. (2017). Genomic composition and dynamics among Methanomicrobiales predict adaptation to contrasting environments. ISME journal. 11:87-99.
- Baldeck, C. A., Kembel, S. W., Harms, K. E., Yavitt, J. B., John, R., Turner, B. L., Madawala, S., Gunatilleke, N., Gunatilleke, S., Bunyavejchewin, S., & Kiratiprayoon, S. (2016). Phylogenetic turnover along local environmental gradients in tropical forest communities. Oecologia. 182:547-557.
- Burtis, J. C., Ostfeld, R. S., Yavitt, J. B., & Fahey, T. J. (2016). The relationship between soil arthropods and the overwinter survival of Ixodes scapularis (Acari: Ixodidae) under manipulated snow cover. Journal of Medical Entomology. 53:225-229.
- Yavitt, J. B., & Williams, C. J. (2015). Conifer litter identity regulates anaerobic microbial activity in wetland soils via variation in leaf litter chemical composition. Geoderma. 243:141-148.
- Yavitt, J. B. (2015). Land use history determines non-native earthworm impacts on atmospheric methane consumption in forest soils, central New York State. Canadian Journal of Soil Science. 95:321-330.
- Yavitt, J. B., & Williams, C. J. (2015). Linking tree species identity to anaerobic microbial activity in a forested wetland soil via leaf litter decomposition and leaf carbon fractions. Plant and Soil. 390:293-305.
- Turner, B. L., Yavitt, J. B., Harms, K. E., Garcia, M. N., & Wright, S. J. (2015). Seasonal changes in soil organic matter after a decade of nutrient addition in a lowland tropical forest. Biogeochemistry. 123:221-235.
- Yavitt, J. B., Fahey, T. J., Sherman, R. E., & Groffman, P. M. (2015). Lumbricid earthworm effects on incorporation of root and leaf litter into aggregates in a forest soil, New York State. Biogeochemistry. 125:261-273.