Tom DeLuca

Photo of DeLuca, Tom

Tom DeLuca

Dean and Professor; Director, Montana Forest & Conservation Experiment Station

Personal Summary

Thomas H. DeLuca is professor and dean of the W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation (FCFC) at the University of Montana (UM). A forest soil scientist and ecosystem ecologist, Professor DeLuca efforts in research, teaching and administration have been focused on sustainable land management and advancing our understanding of natural ecosystem function.  Professor DeLuca currently directs a College with over 40 faculty members, 133 graduate students, and more than 750 undergraduate students. The MFCES manages two external research facilities, Lubrecht Experimental Forest (a 27,000 acre forest) and Bandy Experimental Ranch (a 3,600 acre cattle ranch). Prior to his post at FCFC, Professor DeLuca served as the Director of the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences at the University of Washington (2012 – 2017), was the NERC-University Joint Chair in Environmental Sciences in the School of Environment, Natural Resources and Geography at Bangor University, UK (2009 – 2012), served as a Senior Forest Ecologist with the Wilderness Society (2006 – 2009), was a Professor of Forest Soils at the University of Montana in the College of Forestry and Conservation (1994 – 2006), and Assistant Professor of Sustainable Systems at Slippery Rock University (1993 – 1994).


During the past 20 years, Professor DeLuca has conducted research in a variety of topics across temperate, boreal, maritime and Arctic settings. Primary research interests include the influence of disturbance on N and C cycling in forest, prairie and tundra ecosystems, the fire ecology of temperate and boreal forests, biological N2 fixation in forest ecosystems, sustainable forest management and forest restoration. Professor DeLuca has authored more than 100 refereed research papers, including senior authored papers in Science and Nature.  Professor DeLuca received his Ph.D. from Iowa State University in May 1993 (Soil Biology and Biochemistry) while working for the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture; his M.S. from Montana State University in soils; and his B.S. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Natural Science (Soil Science).


Ph.D. Iowa State University, May 1993. Soil Science (Soil Microbiology and Biochemistry).

M.S. Montana State University, March 1987. Soils.

B.S. University of Wisconsin-Madison, December 1984. Soil Science, Natural Science Option.

Teaching Experience

  • FORS 594. FCFC Graduate Seminar (Autumn semester) 2017 - Present. University of Montana.
  • SEFS 529, SEFS Graduate Seminar (all quarters) 2013 – 2017. University of Washington.
  • ESRM 409, Soil Ecology. 2014. Advanced undergraduate course addressing the complexity and function of soil organisms and their relationships.
  • DXX 3212, Forest Ecosystems. 2010 - 2012. Bangor University. Advanced class in forest ecosystem ecology, impacts of disturbance and climate change and the role of diversity and forest structure and function in dictating resilience (20 credits).
  • DXX 2002, Water, Air, and Soil Pollution. 2011. Bangor University. Overview of the long and short term impacts of anthropogenic pollutants on the air, water, soil continuum (20 credits).
  • DXX 3305, Tenerife Field Course 2009-2011. One week field course on landscape ecology, soil morphology and genesis, land degradation, and forest ecology (10 credits).
  • Forestry 210, Introductory Soils (Taught Fall Semesters 1994 – 2006, and Spring semesters 1998 - current, about 200 student each year). An assessment of the chemical, physical, biological, and morphological properties of soils as they relate to environmental sustainability. Three credits 2 hrs lecture and 3 hrs of lab per week (5 – 6 laboratory sections in fall and 2 laboratory sections in the spring).
  • Forestry 232, Forest Insects and Disease, Identification, significance, of and remedies for insect infestations and infections and non-infectious diseases of forests and forest products (Team taught, Spring 1996). Two credits.
  • Forestry 310, Soil Physics (Team Taught Spring 1996). The physical and mechanical properties of soils with special emphasis on the role of water in influencing those properties. 2 hr lecture and 3 hrs lab per week. Three credits.
  • Forestry 410, Soil Morphology, Genesis and Classification. The morphological characteristics of soils, how horizons formed and an introduction to the Soil Taxonomy classification system used in this country. (Taught Alternate Spring Semesters 1995 – 2005). Three credits
  • Forestry 415, Environmental Soil Science. Soil disturbance, contamination, and restoration and their role in ecosystem sustainability (Taught 2003 - 2006). Three credits. 
  • Forestry 501, Research Methods The nature of biophysical and social science research, planning research projects, experimental design, and grant writing (Team taught, Fall 1997, Fall 2001 and Fall 2004). Three credits.
  • Forestry 511, Soil Biochemistry  A critical assessment of soil chemical and biological processes as related to ecosystem and global biogeochemistry. Focus provided on soil organic matter dynamics, nutrient turnover, and environmental quality (Taught alternate spring semesters 1995 – 2006). Three credits.
  • Forestry 594, Special Topics in Biogeochemistry. Critical assessment of current issues in soil biology and biochemistry (taught fall semester 1998 - 2006). One credit.
  • PREE 595, Soils as a Resource (3 Cr., Fall 1993). An analysis of soils as a natural resource and pivotal component of living ecosystems.
  • PREE 601b, Analysis of Professional Literature for MS3 (3 Cr., Fall 1993). Critical assessment of current literature in sustainability. 
  • PREE 601a, Analysis of Professional Literature for Recreation Students (3 Cr., Fall 1993)
  • PREE 601c, Analysis of Professional Literature for Correspondence (3 Cr., Fall, 1993)
  • PREE 642, Agroecology An analysis of organic and alternative agricultural systems as related to large and small scale agriculture (3 Cr., Spring 1994)
  • PREE 799, Research Methods for MS (3 Cr., Spring 1994) An analysis of scientific approach to research and evaluation of statistical tools used in the analysis of data.

Research Interests

  • Carbon and nitrogen dynamics of natural and disturbed ecosystems
  • Influence of restoration activities on ecosystem function
  • Fire as a driver of ecosystem processes in forest ecosystems
  • Nitrogen fixation in terrestrial ecosystems
  • Soil resource sustainability as influenced by land management

Field of Study

Forest soils, soil science, ecosystem ecology, biogeochemistry

Professional Experience

2017 to present: Dean and Professor, W.A. Franke College of Forestry & Conservation, University of Montana

2012 – Jan. 2017: Professor and Director, School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, University of Washington 

2009 – 2012: Professor and NERC-University Joint Chair in Environmental Sciences, Bangor University, Bangor, Gwynedd, United Kingdom

2009 – Present: Senior Research Scientist, Institute for Subarctic Alpine Research, Silver Museet, Arjeplog, Sweden

2006 – 2009: Senior Scientist/Forest Ecologist, Ecological and Economic Research Department, The Wilderness Society, Bozeman, Montana

2006 – 2013: Adjunct Professor of Forest Soils, Department of Forest Management, College of Forestry & Conservation, University of Montana

2000- 2008: Guest Professor of Forest Ecology, Department of Forest Vegetation Ecology (now Forest Ecology and Management)

2003- 2006: Professor of Forest Soils, Department of Ecosystem and Conservation Sciences, College of Forestry & Conservation, University of Montana

1998 - 2003: Associate Professor of Forest Soils, School of Forestry, University of Montana (awarded tenure in 1999)

1994 - 1998: Assistant Professor of Forest Soils, School of Forestry, University of Montana

1993 - 1994: Assistant Professor of AgroecologySustainable Systems, Slippery Rock

International Experience

Lived in northern Sweden (2000 - 2001) during sabbatical at SLU in Umeå.  Worked as a guest professor at SLU (2000 - 2008) and later served as a research scientist with the Institute for Subarctic Landscape Research in Arjeplog (2008 - present).

Lived in Bangor North Wales in Great Britain from 2009 - 2012, served as a Professor and NERC Chair in Evnironmental Sciences. 

Collaborating with members of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Chengdu conducting research on the Tibetan Plateau.  Was awarded a PIFI fellowship to study in China in 2017. 


Selected Publications

Author of over 100 publications in refereed journals, H Index 55 Google Scholar

DeLuca, T.H. S. Gao, M.R.A. Pingree. 2019. Assessing soil biological health in forest ecosystems. Chapter 13. In: Page-Dumroese, D., M. Busse, C. Giardina, D. Morris. Global Change and Forest Soils: Conservation of a Finite Natural Resource. Elsevier (In Press, Refereed).

Hill, P.W. R. Broughton, J. Bougoure, W. Havelange, K.K. Newsham, H. Grant, D. Murphy, P. Clode,  C. Brown, S. Ramayah, K.A. Marsden, R. Quilliam, P. Roberts, D.J. Read, T.H. DeLuca, R.D. Bardgett, D.W. Hopkins, D.L. Jones. 2019. Fungal root endophytes facilitate the acquisition of organic nitrogen from ancient soil organic matter by Antarctic angiosperms. Ecology Letters: In Press.

Bidwell, A.L., S.T. Callahan, P.C. Tobin, B.K. Nelson, T.H. DeLuca. 2019. Quantifying elemental composition of mosses in western Washington USA. Science of the Total Environment 693:133404.

DeLuca, T.H. and S. Gao. 2019. Chapter 3.  Use of Biochar in Organic Farming. Pp. 25-49. In: S. Chandran C. S. Thomas and M. R. Unni (eds). Organic Farming: New Advances Towards Sustainable Agricultural Systems. Springer, New York.

Gao, S. and T.H. DeLuca. 2019. Use of microdialysis to assess short-term soil soluble N dynamics with biochar additions. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 136:107512.

Sun, S. Y. Wu, J. Zhang, G. Wang, T.H. DeLuca, W. Zhu, A. Li, M. Duan and L. He. 2019. Soil warming and nitrogen deposition alter soil respiration, microbial community structure and organic carbon composition in a coniferous forest on eastern Tibetan Plateau. Geoderma 353:283-292

Mason, K.E. S. Oakley, L. Street, M. Arróniz-Crespo, D.L. Jones, T.H. DeLuca, N. Ostle. 2019. Boreal forest floor greenhouse gas emissions across a Pleurozium schreberi-dominated, wildfire-disturbed chronosequence. Ecosystems 22: 1381–1392.

Duan, M., A. Li, Y. Wu, Z. Zhao, C. Peng. T.H. DeLuca, S. Sun. 2019. Differences of soil CO2 flux in two contrasting subalpine ecosystems on the eastern edge of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau: A four-year study. Atmospheric Environment 198:166-174.

Gao, S., T.H. DeLuca, and C.C. Cleveland. 2018. Biochar additions alter phosphorus and nitrogen availability in agricultural ecosystems: a meta-analysis. Science of the Total Environment 654:463-472.

Hörnberg, G., T. Josefsson, T.H. DeLuca, L. Liedgren, L. Östlund, O. Zackrisson, and I. Bergman, 2018. Anthropogenic use of fire led to degraded Scots pine-lichen forest in northern Sweden. Anthropocene 24:14-29.

Gao, S. and T.H. DeLuca. 2018. Wood biochar impacts soil phosphorus dynamics and microbial communities in organically-managed croplands. Soil Biology and Biochemistry Soil Biology and Biochemistry 126:144–150.

Pingree, M.R.A. and T.H. DeLuca. 2018. The influence of fire history on soil nutrients and vegetation cover in mixed severity fire regime forests of the eastern Olympic Peninsula, Washington, USA. Forest Ecology & Management 422: 95–107.

Scott; D., R.L. Bradley, J-P. Bellenger, D. Houle, M. Gundale, K. Rousk, T.H. DeLuca. 2018. Anthropogenic deposition of heavy metals and phosphorus may reduce biological N2 fixation in boreal forest mosses. Science of the Total Environment 630:303-310.

Gao, S., K. Hoffman-Krull, T.H. DeLuca. 2017. Soil biochemical properties and crop productivity following application of locally produced biochar at organic farms on Waldron Island, WA. Biogeochemistry 136:31–46.

Pingree, M.R.A., T.H. DeLuca. 2017. Function of wildfire-deposited pyrogenic carbon in terrestrial ecosystems (Mini-Review). Frontiers in Environmental Science 30:

Pingree, M.R.A., K. Makoto, and T.H. DeLuca. 2017. Interactive effects of charcoal and earthworm activity increase bioavailable phosphorus in sub-boreal forest soils. Biology and Fertility of Soils 53:873–884.

Eisenhauer, N., P.M. Antunes, A.E. Bennett, K. Birkhofer, A. Bissett, M.A. Bowker, T. Caruso, B. Chen, D.C. Coleman, W. de Boer, P. de Ruiter, T. H. DeLuca, F. Frati, B.S. Griffiths, M. M. Hart, S. Hättenschwiler, J. Haimi, M. Heethoff, N. Kaneko, L.C. Kelly, H.P. Leinaas, Z. Lindo, C. Macdonald, M.C. Rillig, L. Ruess, S. Scheu, O. Schmidt, T.R. Seastedt, N.M. van Straalen, A.V. Tiunov, M. Zimmer, J.R. Powell. 2017. Priorities for research in soil ecology. Pedobiologia 63:1-7.

Sun, S-Q, T. Liu, Y-H. Wu, G-X. Wang, B. Zhu, T.H. DeLuca, Y-Q. Wang, J. Luo. 2017. Ground bryophytes regulate net soil carbon efflux: evidence from two subalpine ecosystems on the east edge of the Tibet Plateau. Plant & Soil 417:363–375.

Cutler, N., M. Arróniz-Crespo, L.E. Street, D.L. Jones, D.L. Chaput, T.H. DeLuca. 2017. Long-term recovery of microbial communities in the boreal bryosphere following fire disturbance. Microbial Ecology 73:75–90.

Cutler, N. A., M. Arróniz-Crespo, L.E. Street, D.L. Jones, D.L. Chaput, & T.H. DeLuca. 2016. Long-Term Recovery of Microbial Communities in the Boreal Bryosphere Following Fire Disturbance. Microbial Ecology, 1-16.

Gao, S., K. Hoffman-Krull, A.L. Bidwell,  & T.H. DeLuca. 2016. Locally produced wood biochar increases nutrient retention and availability in agricultural soils of the San Juan Islands, USA. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 233: 43-54.

DeLuca, T.H., H.C. Glanville, M. Harris, B.A. Emmett, M.R.A. Pingree, L. L. de Sosa, C. Morenà, D. L. Jones.  2015. A biologically-based approach to evaluating soil phosphorus availability across complex landscapes. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 88:110-119.

DeLuca, T.H. O. Zackrisson, I. Bergman, and G. Hörnberg. 2013. Historical land use and resource depletion in spruce-Cladina forests of Northern Sweden. Anthropocene 1:14-22

Jones, D.L., D.V. Murphy, M. Khalid, W. Ahmad, G. Edwards-Jones, and T.H. DeLuca. 2011. Short-term biochar-induced increase in soil respiration is both biotically and abiotically mediated. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 43:1723-1731.

DeLuca, T.H. O. Zackrisson, I. Bergman, B. Díez, and B. Bergman. 2013. Diazotrophy in alluvial meadows of Subarctic river systems. PLoS One 8:e77342.

DeLuca, T.H. and C.A. Zabinski. 2011. Prairie ecosystems and the carbon problem. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 9:407–413.

Gundale, M.J., T.H. DeLuca, and A. Nordin. 2011. Bryophytes attenuate anthropogenic nitrogen inputs in boreal forests. Global Change Biology 17:2743–2753.

DeLuca, T.H., O. Zackrisson, M.J. Gundale, and M-C. Nilsson. 2008. Ecosystem feedbacks and nitrogen fixation in boreal forests. Science 320:1181.

DeLuca, T.H., and A. Sala. 2006. Frequent fire alters nitrogen transformations in ponderosa pine stands of the Inland Northwest. Ecology 87:2511-2522.

DeLuca, T. H., M.D. MacKenzie, M.J.Gundale, and W.E. Holben. 2006. Wildfire-produced charcoal directly influences nitrogen cycling in forest ecosystems. SSSAJ 70:448-453.

DeLuca, T.H., O. Zackrisson, M-C. Nilsson, and A. Sellstedt. 2002. Quantifying nitrogenfixation in feather moss carpets of boreal forests. Nature 419:917-920.


Graduate Students

Si Gao, PhD. Application of locally produced wood biochar in agriculture and forestry: Impacts on soil carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus dynamics. University of Montana

Dan Pendegraph, MS, Co-advise with Alex Metcalf. Wild Waters: The assessment of setbacks and recreational impacts on Wilderness water sources. University of Montana.