Please contact me if you are interested in learning more about any of these projects, or if you are interested in collaborative work.
We are investigating how genotypic differences within the dominant prairie plants affects the subdominant species and prairie communities (Gibson et al., 2011), especially during restoration. NSF funding with Sara Baer is allowing us to test the effect of using cultivar and non-cultivar seed sources (Lambert et al., 2011). USDA funding is allowing us to establish a series of common gardens with different seed sources of the dominant Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem) across the Midwestern precipitation gradient from Illinois to western Kansas. These studies will allow us to investigate which ecotypes will likely be the most successful under future climate change scenarios for the Midwest. Learn more about this research in the article: Pure Prairie League.
Experimental prairie restored with cultivar and non-cultivar seed sources of the dominant grasses.
We have established and sampled permanent study plots at 8 Research Natural Areas and at three barrens sites (Brown Barrens, McClure School House Glade, and Berryville Shale Glade). At the barrens sites we have baseline data from 1988 and are continuing monitoring on an irregular basis. Brown Barrens is being restored through prescribed burning and tree removal. Joe Ely investigated the importance and role of the core-satellite species hypothesis in structuring the communities at the barrens sites (Ely, PhD 2001, Gibson et al 1999). The community composition of the RNAs was investigated by Eric Adams (MS thesis, 1999) with the importance of scaling issues in understanding forest composition investigated by Shibi Chandy (PhD 2007: Chandy et al 2006, Chandy & Gibson 2009). Edge effects were investigated by Yohanes Honu (PhD 2004, Honu & Gibson 2006, 2008). Metapopulation dynamics in forest openings have been investigated by Michael DeLong (Delong & Gibson 2012). Most recently, we have documented a catastrophic loss of flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) due to dogwood anthracnose at the La Rue Pine Hills RNA (Suchecki & Gibson, 2008), although this loss may be moderated by fire (Holzmueller et al. 2009).
Non-native, exotic, alien species are often invasive and threaten the integrity and structure of native plant communities. In my lab we have investigated the resistance of forest edges in Shawnee RNAs to exotic species invasion (Honu & Gibson 2006, 2008) and niche relationships of exotic species in shale glades (West et al., 2008, 2010). With Loretta Battaglia, we have developed an exotic species database for southern Illinois and are using it to investigate the effects of roads on exotic species distibutions (Inczaskis MS thesis 2011). We have been investigating the population biology of the following individual species:
Achyranthes japonica (Amaranthaceae: Japanese Chaff flower).
Celastrus orbiculatus (Oriental bittersweet) (Pande et al 2006).
Dioscorea oppositifolia (syn. D. batatus; Dioscoreaceae: Wild Yam, Air potato) (Thomas et al 2005, 2006).
Hostile Takeovers an article by Marilyn Davis.
Lespedeza cuneata (Fabaceae: Chinese sericea) (Brandon et al 2004).
Lonicera japonica (Caprifoliaceae: Japanese honeysuckle) (West et al., 2008, 2010).
Microstegium viminium (Poaceae: Japanese stiltgrass) (Spyreas, et al. 2000, Gibson et al. 2002, Gage et al., 2011)
Report offers help in Japanese Stiltgrass battle.
Schedonorus phoenix (Festuca arundinacea, Lolium aruninaceum) (tall fescue; Poaceae) (Gibson & Newman 2001, Spyreas et al 2001a,b).
Funding for these projects has been largely provided through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
a) Microstegium viminium, b) Lespedeza cuneata, c) Festuca arundinacea in native habitat in England, d) Dioscorea oppositifolia.
We have been working on habitat restoration of Calamagrostis insperata ssp. porteri (bluejoint grass). This State endangered grass occurs on north facing slopes in only three locations in Illinois. We have shown that opening up the overhead tree canopy will promote flowering, and but not seed set (Gibson et al.2009)
(Calamagrostis insperata ssp. porteri: left: Yohanes & Shibi, right dg. Photos by Jody Shimp)
Plant competition is arguably the most important process structuing plant communities. In my lab we are concerned with better understanding this process both in the field and experimentally in the lab and greenhouse. Funds from the USDA allowed us to quantify the patterns of multispecies competition between weeds and crops in soybean fields (Kathy Millar Phd 2008, Millar et al 2007, Gibson et al 2008). We used microarrays to investigate the physiological and genetic basis for competitive effects using Arabidopsis thaliana as a test organism (Alwerdt MS thesis 2003, Alwerdt et al 2006, Geisler et al., 2012). Most recently, PhD student Karla Gage has been investigating of the population ecology of glyphosate-resistant Conyza canadensis (marestail) as part of a larger Monstanto funded project to investigate the effect of management regimes on the weed flora of glyphosate treated crop fields. Lauren Schwartz is just starting her doctoral research on the comparative demography of members of the Amaranthaceae, including a number of agricultural pigweeds.
Last updated: 23-Jan-12 / djg