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Research Interests

My research interests are extremely varied but center around plant ecology, particularly how plants respond to prairie fires.

  • Fire ecology. Why do some plants do better when burned than others? What characteristics (life-history traits) do plants possess which allow them to survive?
  • Prairie restoration. We are in the process of restoring a portion of our 300-acre field station to tallgrass prairie. There are a lot of questions surrounding restoration processes. One of the most interesting is how do plants and animals get from distant habitats to the new restoration area? Dispersal mechanisms are of key importance in these studies. 
  • Meta-populations and conservation. This is the study of Earth's fragmented ecosystem. It addresses how separated populations interact. What effect does dispersal have on maintaining diversity in these isolated populations? 
  • Plant-herbivore and herbivore-herbivore interactions. Because herbivores rarely kill plants and because plants can aggressively respond to being eaten, herbivores can indirectly influence populations of plants and other herbivores.
  • The impact of gophers on plant spatial patterns. Like aboveground mammals, belowground mammals can easily influence plant spatial and diversity patterns. How do plants cope with underground herbivores?