CuRRent Research

Scope of Research in our Lab

Our research program is focused on grassland plant ecophysiology, with a particular emphasis on ecohydrology, grass-woody plant interactions, and investigating water and carbon fluxes within the context of future responses to climate change. This research program includes long-term experiments, manipulative field experiments, and data collection for two complimentary grassland ecosystems: tallgrass prairie (Konza Prairie, KS) and lowveld savanna (Kruger National Park, South Africa). Our lab has established an international reputation with regard to root competition dynamics for water, C4 grass ecophysiology, and the ecology of woody plant encroachment in grasslands.

Shramps experiment
Watershed boundary between K1B (right) and K4A (left): location of the Shramps experiment. Photo by: R. Keen

Our research program uses common field instruments (including gas analyzers, pressure bombs, and fluorometers), and bench-top measurements (including non-structural carbohydrate determination, osmotic potential using vapor pressure osmometers, and simple hydraulics measurments like PV curves). We use these techniques to understand how grassland species survive drought, respond to grazing -- now and in the future.

We maintain a stable isotope facility (IRMS and CRDS) to use stable isotopes as tracers of physiological plant processes. We also accept external samples for analysis. For more info, visit the SIMSL webpage.

For more detailed examples of our current research, please choose from the projects at the right.

EcoPhys Lab 2021
Our lab group in the summer 2021 at Phys-Fest 3! Joshua Ajowele, Jesse Nippert, Ryan "the Younger" Donnelly, Rachel Keen, Anna Shats, Greg Tooley, Ryan "the Elder" Slapikas, Seton Bachle, Emily Wedel, and Kim O'Keefe. Joshua and Ryan S. are honorary members from Wyoming and Florida State. Seton and Kim are former Ph.D. students.

  Last Update: 16-Oct-2021