Faculty by Research Area

Tropical Ecology

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Photo Allan,  Brian

339A Morrill Hall

Associate Professor
Entomology, PEEC

Ambrose Ambrose,  Stanley



Carolaug Augspurger,  Carol

155 Morrill Hall

Plant Biology, PEEC

My current research focus is on plant phenology of trees and herbs in temperate deciduous forests. I have been documenting the timing of bud break, leaf expansion, leaf senescence, and flowering and fruiting for the last 12 years in a local forest fragment, Trelease Woods. This background data set serves as the springboard to address questions that can be answered experimentally. It also provides a long-term data set to evaluate questions about how global climate change is altering phenology. Currently, I am using the long-term data set to collaborate with investigators at the Harvard Forest and in France to determine the extent to which phenology imposes limitation on a species range distribution. Particular focus has been on plants growing in the shade of the canopy trees and how they may alter their phenology to avoid canopy shade and exploit high light periods. I have documented that, in addition to ephemeral herbs, the leaf phenology of understory saplings predates canopy closure in the spring by as much as three weeks. Subsequent studies have explored the environmental cue underlying this early phenology. I have found that adults and saplings use the same amount of thermal degree hours as their cue, but saplings accumulate degree hours faster and hence begin to leaf out earlier. I have also determined that these understory plants have the physiological capacity to take advantage of the added light in spring to enhance their carbon gain. A current experiment uses shade cloth to eliminate the high light spring phase of the understory individuals and is documenting their growth and mortality responses. Experiments with herbs determine the extent to which the herbs depend on the high light period and whether early cold temperatures or summer canopy shade impose greater limits on the phenology and growing period of many herbaceous species. My graduate students work in both temperate (Illinois, Utah, Louisiana) and tropical (Panama, Costa Rica, Peru, Ecuador, Honduras) habitats and generally focus on aspects of community ecology, especially seed and seedling ecology. Recent Ph.D. projects include dispersal, seed and seedling biology of the nutmeg tree by monkeys, restoration of abandoned pastures using living fence stakes to accelerate forest succession, community attributes that limit invasion by cheatgrass and garlic mustard, seedling ecology explaining patterns of primary tree succession on newly created river sandbars, historical factors explaining the rise in dominance of sugar maple in Illinois forests, and the inhibition of seedling recruitment by dwarf and arborescent tropical palms.
Jbrawn Brawn,  Jeffrey

W-503 Turner Hall

Professor and Head, NRES
Animal Biology, PEEC

Photo Dalling,  James

286 Morrill Hall

Professor and Head
Plant Biology, PEEC

My research concerns the population and community ecology of tropical trees, with a particular interest in understanding how soil nutrient availability and soil microbial communities shape the composition and diversity of tree communities. Much of my work is carried out with collaborators at the <a href="http://www.stri.si.edu">Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute</a>, in Panama, either on <a href="http://www.stri.si.edu/english/visit_us/barro_colorado/index.php">Barro Colorado Island</a> or at the <a href="http://www.stri.si.edu/english/research/facilities/terrestrial/fortuna/index.php">Fortuna Forest Reserve</a>, where I maintain a network of forest dynamics plots described <a href="http://www.life.illinois.edu/dalling/publications/105.pdf">here</a>
Delucia DeLucia,  Evan


G. William Arends Professor of Integrative Biology; Professor; Director, Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment
Plant Biology, PEEC

My laboratory is studying the physiological ecology of vascular plants with an emphasis on the environmental limitations to photosynthesis and resource allocation. I am particularly interested in developing integrated models of light utilization by plants in different habitats, with an emphasis on woody plants. Other research projects include investigations of the effects of UV-B irradiation on growth and photosynthesis, and the impact of elevated CO2 on nutrient acquisition of trees. Currently we are using growth analysis, leaf and plant gas exchange, water relations, tissue chemistry, carbon isotope discrimination, and foliar optical properties, among other methods, in these studies. Research sites include grasslands, old fields, and deciduous forests in Illinois; subalpine and alpine habitats in Wyoming; and shrub steppe in Nevada.
P garber Garber,  Paul

Dept. of Anthropology, Davenport Hall

Professor Emeritus

Photo Punyasena,  Surangi

139 Morrill Hall

Associate Professor
Plant Biology, PEEC

My research focuses on the role that climate has played in the long-term evolution of Neotropical forests, primarily through the reconstruction of paleoecological and macroevolutionary trends of individual plant clades from the fossil pollen record. Despite its modest standing in the popular imagination, fossil pollen is an ideal source for paleoecological information. The palynological record is one of the most ubiquitous terrestrial fossil records. Pollen and spores are abundant, resist degradation, and are found at the bottom of most water bodies, past or present. For this reason, the palynological record is expressly suited for quantitative analyses of continuous, long-term trends in plant ecology and evolution, including time-series analysis of origination and extinction rates, migration, and functional morphological evolution. Paleoecological analyses complement neo-ecological approaches to the study of Neotropical forest composition, diversity, and structure, providing extensive temporal information that is unattainable through other forms of investigation. My approach to understanding the relationship between plant diversity and climate has been multifaceted, investigating both modern spatial and Holocene/Late Quaternary temporal patterns in Neotropical vegetation. Current research includes (1) exploring Quaternary and deep-time (pre-Quaternary) patterns of tropical plant diversity, ecology, and evolutionary change; (2) developing and applying quantitative vegetation models of paleotemperature and paleoprecipitation; and (3) developing quantitative measures of pollen morphology. The aim of this interdisciplinary research program is to develop a temporal picture of tropical forest evolution in order to better understand how community composition and functional ecology are affected by climatic change. The results provide a means of testing regional and global climate models, as well as predicting the response of tropical forests to anthropogenic climate forcing.
Rstumpf Stumpf,  Rebecca

Department of Anthropology


Jwhitfie Whitfield,  James

215 Morrill Hall

Entomology, PEEC

Yeng 274 Yang,  Wendy

639 Morrill Hall

Assistant Professor
Plant Biology, PEEC

I am broadly interested in how human activities are changing how natural and managed ecosystems function and how ecosystem responses to global change can feedback to drive or slow future global change. My research is in terrestrial biogeochemistry and ecosystem ecology with a focus on determining process rates and drivers of chemical transformations in the environment. I am particularly interested in the controls on greenhouse gas emissions, the effects of anthropogenic nitrogen inputs on soil nitrogen retention and loss, the effects of plant community composition shifts on soil nitrogen and carbon dynamics, and the coupling of biogeochemical cycles beyond carbon and nitrogen. An important component of my research is the development of novel methodological approaches using tracer and natural abundance stable isotope techniques, in particular to quantify soil dinitrogen emissions and gross fluxes of greenhouse gases. My research program currently includes projects within two major themes: Controls on Redox-Sensitive Biogeochemical Processes, and Plant Community Composition Effects on Biogeochemical Processes. Specific projects include: <ul> <li>Effects of Rainfall Intensification on Soil Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Midwest</li> <li>Controls on Dissimilatory Nitrate Reduction to Ammonium in Upland Soils</li> <li>Iron-mediated Biogeochemistry in Terrestrial Ecosystems</li> <li><a href="http://www.agroforestry4food.com/">Woody Polycultures as a Transformative Solution to Sustainable Agriculture</a></li> <li>Mycorrhizal Mediation of Forest Nutrient and Carbon Cycling</li> <li>Invasive Species Effects on Ecosystem Nitrogen Dynamics</li> <li>Plant-Soil-Microbe Interactions in Bioenergy Cropping Systems as part of the <a href="https://cabbi.bio/">Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation</a> (CABBI)</li> </ul>