Laboratory: Forest Ecology
The overall goal of my research program is to understand the ecological processes governing the dynamics of tree communities in temperate and tropical forests. My focus is explicitly on the mechanisms that cause changes in relative abundance and diversity of tree species through time and across gradients of soil resource availability. Examples of some of the boader 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, my 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 models, specified as simple equations with coefficients of biological meaning, are integrated, analyzed, and simplified to develop general theory of the environmental constraints and processes that cause patterns at the forest community and landscape levels.
Baribault, TB., RK Kobe, AO Finley. 2012. Tropical tree growth is correlated with soil phosphorus, potassium, and calcium, though not for legumes. Ecological Monographs, in press.
Holste, EK, RK Kobe, and CF Vriesendorp. 2011. Seedling growth responses to soil nutrients in a wet tropical forest understory. Ecology, 92: 1828-1838.
Baribault, TW and RK Kobe. 2011. Neighbour interactions strengthen with increased soil resources in a northern hardwood forest. Journal of Ecology, 99: 1358-1372. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2745.2011.01862.x
Kobe, RK and CF Vriesendrop. 2011. Conspecific density-dependence in seedlings varies with species shade tolerance in a wet tropical forest. Ecology Letters, 14: 503-510. doi: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2011.01612.x
Kobe, RK, M Iyer, and MB Walters. 2010. Optimal partitioning theory revisited: nonstructural carbohydrates dominate root mass responses to nitrogen. Ecology, 91: 166-179.
McCarthy-Neumann, S and RK Kobe. 2010. Conspecific plant-soil feedbacks reduce survivorship and growth of tropical tree seedlings. Journal of Ecology, 98:396-407. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2745.2009.01619.x
Kobe, RK and CF Vriesendorp. 2009. Size of sampling unit strongly influences detection of seedling limitation in a wet tropical forest. Ecology Letters, 12: 220-228. doi: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2008.01278.x
Kobe, RK. 2006. Sapling growth as a function of light and landscape-level variation in soil water and foliar N in northern Michigan. Oecologia, 147: 119-133.
Kobe, RK, CA Lepcyzk, and M Iyer. 2005.Resorption efficiency decreases with increasing green leaf nutrients in global dataset. Ecology, 86: 2780-2792.
Kobe, RK, SW Pacala, JA Silander, Jr., and CD Canham. 1995. Juvenile tree survivorship as a component of shade tolerance. Ecological Applications, 5: 517-532.
Update from the Department Chair – July 2022
Published on July 21, 2022
MSU named charter member of Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science
Published on June 13, 2022
MSU Forestry partnering with Ecotek Labs to promote K-12 science learning
Published on May 5, 2022
An Update from the Department Chair - January 2022
Published on February 1, 2022
MSU part of new center leading climate change research in Midwest
Published on September 29, 2021
MSU AgBioResearch center in Escanaba changes name, enhances forestry mission
Published on December 3, 2020
MSU faculty optimize remote field experiences for forestry students
Published on October 22, 2020
Planned gift to create future Forestry Scholarship Endowment
Published on August 13, 2019
First timber building of its kind in Michigan constructed at MSU
Published on April 1, 2019