Richard Kobe

Richard Kobe

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Professor and Chairperson
Department of Forestry



PhD, Ecology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, 1995
BA, Biology & Environmental Studies, Denison University, Granville, OH.

Laboratory: Forest Ecology

Research Interests

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.

Selected Publications

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.