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Division of Biology

Division of Biology
Kansas State University
116 Ackert Hall
Manhattan, KS 66506
785-532-6653 fax

Jesse Nippert, Associate Professor

Jesse Nippert

Contact information

209 Bushnell Hall

Lab website: http://www.k-state.edu/ecophyslab


Ph.D. 2006, Colorado State University. Ecology.

Area(s) of Specialization

Grassland ecophysiology, grass/tree ecological dynamics, ecosystem responses to global change, stable isotope ecology.

Research Focus

Our laboratory focuses on the physiological responses of plants to environmental variability and water availability. Understanding physiological plant responses to changes in resource availability allows us to understand and predict community and ecosystem dynamics over time. By the nature of this field, our research is interdisciplinary, providing the opportunity to collaborate broadly with other ecologists (population, community and ecosystem), physical scientists (geologists, atmospheric scientists, hydrologists), and evolutionary biologists.

A few examples of current research projects include:

  1. We are examining the physiological and growth responses of tallgrass prairie plant species to changes in microclimate/soil moisture. Our results contribute to the general ecological understanding of tallgrass prairie dynamics and provide data for ecosystem models to forecast responses to future climate events.
  2. We are measuring the local drivers and consequences of woody encroachment occurring at the Konza Prairie. Combining our measurements with long-term data provides insight into the pattern and process of woody encroachment in mesic grasslands.
  3. We are investigating the physiological processes that underlie grass/tree coexistence in grasslands in the central US as well as savannas in South Africa. This data is used in dynamic community and ecosystem models and to forecast trajectories under novel climate scenarios.

Selected Publications

Ratajczak Z, Nippert JB, Ocheltree TW. 2014. Abrupt transition of mesic grassland to shrubland: evidence for thresholds, alternative attractors, and regime shifts. Ecology 95: 2633-2645.

Nippert JB, Ocheltree TW, Orozco GL, Ratajczak Z, Ling B, Skibbe AM. 2013. Evidence of physiological decoupling from grassland ecosystem drivers by an encroaching woody shrub. PLoS One 8(12): e81630.

Ocheltree TW, Nippert JB, Prasad PVV. 2013. Stomatal responses to changes in vapor pressure deficit reflect tissue-specific differences in hydraulic conductance. Plant, Cell & Environment 37(1): 132-139.

Nippert JB, Knapp AK. 2007. Soil water partitioning as a mechanism for species coexistence in tallgrass prairie. Oikos 116: 1017-1029.

Nippert JB, Knapp AK. 2007. Linking water uptake with rooting patterns in grassland species. Oecologia 153: 261-272.

View the complete publication list in NCBI