W. Stan Harpole
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As a community ecologist, I study the mechanisms that control species diversity as a way to predict the consequences of global change to diversity. My work is centered on testing and developing biodiversity theory using experimental and observational studies of terrestrial plant communities in combination with mathematical and statistical models and simulations. While much of my research has been in California grasslands and Midwestern prairies, I am interested in the use of other model systems to test predictions of niche theory.
My work explores the role of multiple nutrients, required by plants for growth, in controlling the number of species that can coexist. This work has important application to regional problems of nutrient pollution and the loss of diversity that typically results. In collaboration with ecologists from around the world, I recently initiated a worldwide experimental network to study global patterns of species diversity and productivity in relationship to nutrient supply and herbivory.
Other recently funded projects include experimental tests of the role of cattle grazing as a driver of alternative vegetation states and biological invasions; positive feedback mechanisms and spatial dynamics; and native California blue oak demography and conservation.