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PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR

Forest IsbellForest 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.

 

Clare Kazanski

Dr. Kazanski investigates how global environmental changes and land management practices affect soils and ecosystem carbon storage. Her postdoctoral research addresses the potential for enhancing soil carbon storage in grasslands and rangelands through specific grazing practices. Dr. Kazanski is a NatureNet Fellow with The Nature Conservancy. Visit her website or view her Google Scholar Profile.

 

Meredith Palmer

Dr. Palmer 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. Her postdoctoral research focuses on the mechanisms underlying cascading effects of wolf recolonization on soil and plant communities at Cedar Creek. Read more about her work at her website.

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.


VISITING SCHOLAR

Jushan Liu

Dr. Liu is 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).


ALUMNI

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.