What we do

The Dukes Lab conducts ecological research, often addressing current environmental challenges. We are interested in interactions among plant communities, ecosystem processes, and global environmental change. Much of our work focuses on the drivers and effects of species composition change. We often use invasive species to study how community and ecosystem properties influence one another.

Current and recent research questions

  • What attributes of a community affect its susceptibility to invasion by non-native species?

  • What properties of a community make it vulnerable to impacts from invading species?

  • How will global environmental changes, such as climate change, increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide, and increasing nitrogen deposition affect the composition of communities and the success of invasive species?

  • How will multiple, interacting global environmental changes affect the functioning of ecosystems?

  • How much ancient organic matter did it take to make a gallon of gas? A year's supply of fossil fuels? How much modern organic matter would be needed to replace fossil fuels?

  • To what extent can the world's terrestrial ecosystems slow climate change by sequestering carbon?