Contact Information

The overall goal of our research is to understand the processes governing the dynamics of tree communities in temperate and tropical forests.

  • We are especially interested in developing a synthetic understanding of how resources (irradiance, nutrients, and water) and biotic interactions (plant-plant, plant – soil feedbacks) act together to influence forest community properties.
  • Furthermore, we probe the whole-plant physiological mechanisms (such as allocation to nonstructural carbohydrates) that underlie species differences in responding to the environment.
  • We have become increasingly interested in how these fundamental workings of forest communities will respond to changes in climate.

 Some of the broader questions that my lab group addresses include:

  • What are the mechanisms-- both the particular environmental factors and process responses to those factors -- that cause landscape-level variation in forest composition?
  • How do anthropogenic effects on soil resources manifest through these mechanisms?
  • How can hundreds of tree species, all of which use the same resources, co-exist in wet tropical forests? Why isn't there just one or a few dominant tree species in these systems?

To address these types of questions, our lab group designs field experiments to calibrate individual-based, species-specific models of tree performance (e.g. mortality, growth, reproduction, dispersal) in relation to plant resource availability and biotic interactions. The calibrated models and coefficients are analyzed to understand community structure.

Dr. Richard Kobe
Department of Forestry
Michigan State University
Natural Resources Building
480 Wilson Road, Room 126
East Lansing, MI 48824-1222
(517) 355-8433