Christian von Sperber

Environmental Biogeochemistry

Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography

Office: Burnside Hall 613B
Tel.: (514) 398-7501
Fax.: (514) 398-7437
Personal Website
E-mail: chris.vonsperber [at]

Academic and professional background

  • Senior Scientist, Department of Agricultural Sciences, University of Bonn, Germany (2016 - 2018)
  • Postdoc, Department of Biology, Stanford University, USA (2014 - 2016)
  • PhD, Department of Environmental Science, ETH Zurich, Switzerland (2014)

Research interests

My research focuses on the biogeochemistry of phosphorus and nitrogen in terrestrial ecosystems, with a special emphasis on soils. I am particularly interested in understanding how biogeochemical processes in soils change along environmental gradients. For this purpose, I often use stable isotopes as a tool to characterize and trace such processes, both, in controlled laboratory settings and in environmental systems.

Current projects

  • The cycling of phosphorus and nitrogen in forest ecosystems

  • The effect of land-use changes on soil nutrient pools

  • The biogeochemistry of phosphorus along riparian buffer zones

Selected publications

Bauke S., Wang Y., Saia S., Popp C., Tamburini F., Paetzold S., Amelung W., von Sperber C. (2022). Phosphate Oxygen Isotope Ratios in Vegetated Riparian Buffer Strips. Vadose Zone Journal.    
Warrack J., Kang M. and Sperber C. von (2021) Groundwater phosphorus concentrations: global trends and links with agricultural and oil and gas activities. Environmental Research Letters 17, 014014.

Helfenstein, J., Tamburini, F., von Sperber, C., Massey, M.S., Pistocchi, C., Chadwick, O.A., Vitousek, P.M., Kretzschmar, R., Frossard, E., (2018). Combining spectroscopic and isotopic techniques gives a dynamic view of phosphorus cycling in soil. Nature Communications 9, 3226.


GEOG 203 - Environmental Systems

GEOG 290 - Local Geographical Excursion

GEOG 305 - Soils and Environment

GEOG 495 - Field course on Mont Saint-Hilaire

GEOG 505 - Global Biogeochemistry

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