Seth Spawn-Lee

Position title: Ph.D.


Advisor: Holly Gibbs


  • M.S. Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • B.A. Biology, St. Olaf College


Land Use, Carbon, Ecosystem Ecology, Biogeochemistry, Agriculture, Energy, Conservation, Policy


  1. Lark, T.J., N.P. Hendricks, A. Smith, N. Pates, S.A. Spawn-Lee, M. Bougie, E.G. Booth, C.J. Kucharik, H.K. Gibbs. Environmental outcomes of the US Renewable Fuel Standard. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2022) doi: 10.1073/pnas.2101084119
  2. Sun, Z., L. Scherer, A. Tukker, S.A. Spawn-Lee, M. Bruckner, H.K. Gibbs, P. Behrens. Dietary change in high-income nations alone can lead to substantial double climate dividend. Nature Food (2022) doi: 10.1038/s43016-021-00431-5
  3. Noon M.L. A. Goldstein, J.C. Ledezma, P.R. Roehrdanz, S.C. Cook-Patton, S.A. Spawn-Lee, T.M. Wright, M. Gonzalez-Roglich, D.G. Hole, J. Rockstrom, W.R. Turner. Mapping the irrecoverable carbon in Earth’s ecosystems. Nature Sustainability (2022) doi: 10.1038/s41893-021-00803-6
  4. Michalaska-Smith, M., Z. Song, S.A. Spawn-Lee, Z.A. Hansen, M. Johnson, G. May, E.T. Borer, E.W. Seabloom, L.L. Kinkel. Network structure of resource use and niche overlap within the endophytic microbiome. ISME J (2022) doi: 10.1038/s41396-021-01080-z
  5. Spawn-Lee, S.A., T.J. Lark, H.K. Gibbs, R.A. Houghton, C.J. Kucharik, C. Malins, R.E.O. Pelton, G.P. Robertson. Comment on ‘Carbon intensity of corn ethanol in the United States: state of the science’. Environmental Research Letters (2021) doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/ac2e35.
  6. Pelton, R.E.O., S.A. Spawn-Lee, T.J. Lark, T. Kim, N. Springer, P. Hawthorne, D.K. Ray, J. Schmitt. Land use leverage points to reduce GHG emissions in US agricultural supply chains. Environmental Research Letters (2021) doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/ac2775.
  7. Khanna, M., L. Chen, B. Basso, X. Cai, J.L. Field, K. Guan, C. Jiang, T.J. Lark, T.L. Richard, S.A. Spawn-Lee, P. Yang, K.Y. Zipp. Redefining marginal land for bioenergy crop production. GCB Bioenergy (2021) doi: 10.1111/gcbb.12877
  8. Drever, C.R., S.C. Cook-Patton, F. Akhter, … S.A. Spawn et al. Natural climate solutions for Canada. Science Advances (2021) doi: 10.1126/sciadv.abd6034
  9. Graham, E.B., C. Averill, B. Bond-Lamberty, …S.A. Spawn et al. Toward a generalizable framework of disturbance ecology through crowd sourced science. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution (2021) doi: 10.3389/fevo.2021.588940
  10. Lark, T.J., S.A. Spawn, M. Bougie, H.K. Gibbs. Cropland expansion in the United States produces marginal yields at high costs to wildlife. Nature Communications (2020) doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-18045-z
  11. Yin, H., A. Brandao Jr., J. Buchner, D. Helmers, B. Iuliano, N.E. Kimambo, K.E. Lewinska, E. Razenkova, A. Rizayeva, N. Rogova, S.A. Spawn, Y. Xie, V.C. Radeloff. Monitoring cropland abandonment with Landsat time series. Remote Sensing of Environment (2020) doi: 10.1016/j.rse.2020.111873
  12. Spawn, S.A., C.C. Sullivan, T.J. Lark, H.K. Gibbs. Harmonized global maps of above and belowground biomass carbon density in the year 2010. Scientific Data (2020) doi: 10.1038/s41597-020-0444-4
  13. Goldstein, A. W.R. Turner, S.A. Spawn, K.J. Anderson-Teixeira, S. Cook-Patton, J. Fargion, H.K. Gibbs, B. Griscom, J.H. Hewson, J.F. Howard, J.C. Ledezma, S. Page, L. Pin Koh, J. Rockstrom, J. Sanderman, D.G. Hole. Protecting irrecoverable carbon in Earth’s ecosystems. Nature Climate Change (2020) doi: 10.1038/s41558-020-0738-8
  14. Brandao Jr., A., L. Rausch, A.P. Duran, C. Costa Jr., S.A. Spawn, H.K. Gibbs. Estimating the potential for conservation and farming in the Amazon and Cerrado under four policy scenarios. Sustainability (2020) doi: 10.3390/su12031277
  15. Soto-Navarro, C., C. Ravilious, A. Arnell, X. de Lamo, …, S.A. Spawn et al. Mapping co-benefits for carbon storage and biodiversity to inform conservation policy and action. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B (2020) doi: 10.1098/rstb.2019.0128
  16. Spawn, S.A. and H.K. Gibbs. Global maps of above and belowground biomass carbon density in the year 2010. ORNL DAAC (2020) doi: 10.3334/ORNLDAAC/1763
  17. Kropp, H., M.M. Loranty, S.M. Natali, A. Kholodov, H.D. Alexander, N. Zimov, M.C. Mack, S.A. Spawn. Tree density influences ecohydrological drivers of plant-water relations in a larch boreal forest in Siberia. Ecohydrology (2019) doi: 10.1002/eco.2132
  18. Spawn, S.A., T.J. Lark, H.K. Gibbs. Carbon emissions from cropland expansion in the United States. Environmental Research Letters (2019) doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/ab0399
  19. Fargione, J.E., S. Bassett, T. Boucher, S.D. Bridham, R.T. Conant ,…, S.A. Spawn et al. Natural climate solutions for the United States. Science Advances (2018) doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aat1869
  20. Kropp, H., M.M. Loranty, H.D. Alexander, L.T. Berner, S.M. Natali, S.A. Spawn. Environmental constraints on transpiration and stomatal conductance in a Siberian Arctic boreal forest. Journal of Geophysical Research – Biogeosciences (2017) doi: 10.1002/2016jg003709
  21. Crawford, J.T., L.C. Loken, W.E. West, B. Crary, S.A. Spawn, N. Gubbins, S.E. Jones, R.G. Striegl, E.H. Stanley. Spatial heterogeneity of within-stream methane concentrations. Journal of Geophysical Research – Biogeosciences (2017) doi: 10.1002/2016JG003698
  22. Schade, J.D. E.C. Seybold, T. Drake, S.A. Spawn, W.V. Sobczak, K.E. Frey, R.M. Holmes, N.Zimov. Variation in summer nitrogen and phosphorus uptake among Siberian headwater streams. Polar Research (2016) doi: 10.3402/polarv35.24571
  23. Natali, S.M., B.M. Rogers, S.A. Spawn. Permafrost: The Frozen Amplifier. Pages 11-14 in Thresholds and Closing Windows: Risks of Irreversible Cryosphere Climate Change. International Cryosphere Climate Initiative (2015)
  24. Spawn, S.A., S.T. Dunn, G.J. Fiske, S.M. Natali, J.D. Schade, N. Zimov. Summer methane ebullition from a headwater catchment in Northeastern Siberia. Inland Waters. (2015) doi:10.5268/iw-5.3.845
  25. Kannenberg, S.A., S.T. Dunn, S.M. Ludwig, S.A. Spawn. J.D. Schade. Effects of drying and rewetting on potential methanogenesis in seasonally saturated wetland soils. Wetlands. (2015). doi: 10.1007/s13157-015-0653-3
  26. Crawford. J.T., E.H. Stanley, S.A. Spawn, J.C. Finlay, L.C. Loken, R.G. Striegl. Ebullitive methane emissions from oxygenated wetland streams. Global Change Biology. (2014) doi: 10.1111/gcb.12614


  • Environmental Research Letters, Outstanding Reviewer (2019, 2020)
  • Institute of Physics, Trusted Reviewer (2020 -)
  • National Science Foundation – Graduate Research Fellowship
  • UW-Madison Geography – Olmstead Award for Outstanding Publication
  • UW-Madison – University Fellow
  • National Geographic Society – Young Explorer
  • The Explorer’s Club – Exploration Fund Grant