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PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR

Forest Isbell

Dr. Isbell is the associate director of Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve and an assistant professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. He investigates how global environmental changes alter plant communities and ecosystem processes. This research bridges and extends previous investigations of biodiversity–ecosystem functioning relationships, biodiversity–stability relationships, nutrient enrichment, land use changes, alternative stable states, and economic valuation of ecosystem services. View his profile on Google Scholar.


 

POSTDOCS

Jane CowlesJane Cowles

Dr. Cowles is interested in the theoretical links between coexistence mechanisms – the reasons there are so many species to begin with – and the consequences of these coexisting species – biodiversity – for ecosystem functioning. Past projects include examining the role of plant-soil feedbacks in the diversity-productivity relationship and ecosystem responses to warming. Jane co-leads an NSF LTER synthesis working group at the NCEAS that is scaling-up biodiversity analyses. View her profile on Google Scholar.

 

Chad Zirbel

Dr. Zirbel explores how plant functional traits structure the assembly of plant communities and functioning of ecosystems undergoing restoration. Focusing on improving restoration success by applying knowledge from basic ecology research while also using restoration as a system to test community ecology and diversity-ecosystem function theory. His postdoctoral research asks how grazing by bison reduces fire intensity and competition from dominant grasses to promote oak regeneration and the diversity of savanna species. Read more about his work on his website.


 

GRADUATE STUDENTS

Cristy Portales-ReyesCristy Portales-Reyes

Cristy is interested in understanding the mechanisms that lead to coexistence and maintain high levels of plant diversity. Her current research studies how soil microbial communities respond to nutrient enrichment in grasslands, as well as the role of plant-soil feedbacks in the recovery of biodiversity after perturbations.

 

Kaitlin KimmelKaitlin Kimmel

Kaitlin is interested in studying how anthropogenic factors like climate change and habitat fragmentation influence plant community dynamics. She also hopes to investigate how plants are responding physiologically to these environmental perturbations. Ultimately, she wants to be able to relate these changes in community structure to larger ecosystem-scale functioning in order to look at feedbacks into the system though mathematical modeling techniques.

Maggie Anderson

Maggie is interested in the effects of plant functional traits on the diversity of wild bee communities. She wants to understand how climate change and habitat fragmentation can alter patterns of plant phenology and ultimately impact pollinator communities in the future. The findings of her work will have conservation and management applications.

 


 

VISITING SCHOLAR

Zhiyuan Ma

Zhiyuan is a visiting PhD student in our lab, coming to us from Peking University in China. He is interested in exploring the consequences of global changes, such as warming and precipitation alteration, on alpine grassland ecosystems on the Tibetan Plateau. His current research investigates how plant communities, including their temporal stability and their community composition and assembly trajectories, would respond to anthropogenic climate changes.


 

PREVIOUS LAB MEMBERS

Clare Kazanski

Dr. Kazanski was a NatureNet Postdoctoral Fellow in our lab. She is now a Sustainable Grazing Scientist for the North America region at The Nature ConservancyDr. Kazanski investigates how global environmental changes and land management practices affect soils and ecosystem carbon storage. Her research addresses the potential for enhancing soil carbon storage in grasslands and rangelands through specific grazing practices. Visit her website or view her Google Scholar Profile.

 

Jushan Liu

Dr. Liu was a visiting scholar in our lab, and he is currently an associate professor in the School of Life Sciences at Northeast Normal University in China. He has a wide range of research interests and experiences, including investigating plant response to animal saliva and geographical variation of seed mass across Canadian Boreal Forest. His current work mainly focuses on the response of grassland ecosystem processes and functioning to global change (e.g. nitrogen deposition) and human activity (e.g. grazing).

Meredith Palmer

Dr. Palmer was a postdoctoral research associate in our lab, investigating the cascading effects of wolf recolonization on soil and plant communities at Cedar Creek. She is currently a postdoc at Princeton. Her research explores the direct and indirect effect effects of predators on prey behavior, prey demography, and ecosystem functioning. She investigates anti-predator decision-making in large herbivores in response to predators such as wolves and lions and works intensively with citizen scientists to classify data from large-scale camera trapping projects. Visit her website.

Dylan CravenDylan Craven

Dr. Craven was a postdoctoral research fellow in our lab. He currently works with Nico Eisenhauer, based at the Synthesis Centre for Biodiversity Sciences (sDiv) at the German Center for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv). Some of his current work considers whether plant diversity can buffer ecosystem processes under perturbations. Visit his website or view his Google Scholar profile.