Research

I am broadly interested in the causes and consequences of species diversity in plant communities. My current research focuses on how nutrient input and management impacts the diversity, productivity and composition of grasslands. We have established several longterm experiments to test hypotheses about how nutrient enrichment (fertilization) impacts grasslands. In one experiment (part of the KBS LTER) we have followed community response to fertilization and disturbance for over 25 years. Another set of experiments in a low-productivity grassland in SW Michigan allows us to evaluate how the scale of soil resource heterogeneity and presence of clonal species influences plant diversity and community composition. We are particularly interested in how species traits, particularly clonality and growth form, affect responses to resource enrichment.

I am also interested in the consequences of diversity in managed agricultural ecosystems. On the KBS LTER project we have been monitoring the long-term effects of different crop management systems on the composition of weed communities in different crops. We have also established an experiment (the Biodiversity Experiment) in which crop type and rotation are varied to determine the impacts of rotational diversity on crop yield, weed communities and a variety of ecosystem services. Experiments and field studies established as part of the Great Lakes BioEnergy Research Center (GLBRC) at KBS are used to test hypotheses relating diversity, productivity and management practices to the sustainability of alternative biofuel crops.

I am no longer advising graduate students, but maintain a research program with postdocs, undergraduates and summer interns. I am delighted to serve on graduate student committees and to support the research of non-MSU students interested in working at KBS.

As Director of KBS I am promote and support a number of programs to provide undergraduates with research and educational experiences that help define and direct their career interests. For information on these programs, email director@kbs.msu.edu.