My research focuses on linkages among plant community dynamics, primary productivity, and biogeochemical cycles,how these relationships are altered under global change, and how they vary across spatial scales.
Various ecosystem properties and processes, including hydrologic regimes, eutrophication, biodiversity, and homogenization of landscapes are likely to change in the future. These changes will have strong impacts on ecosystem services world-wide, and a major challenge we face is to predict future ecosystem states and services under complex global change scenarios. I combine field experiments, theoretical ecology, data synthesis, and process-based modeling techniques to understand processes driving community and ecosystem phenomena at various scales. Ultimately, my goal is to better understand and predict how communities and ecosystems interact, and how they will respond under global change scenarios at spatial scales relevant for land management.
My research program revolves around three major components: (1) Plant community controls on net primary productivity (NPP) responses to altered precipitation regimes, (2) effects of global change drivers on biogeochemical processes, and (3) how asynchrony among local communities controls ecosystem processes at larger spatial scales.
Hoover, D.L., Wilcox, K.R., Young, K.E. 2018. Experimental droughts with rainout shelters: A methodological review. Ecosphere. doi: 10.1002/ecs2.2088. [download]
Wilcox, K.R., Tredennick, A.T., Koerner, S.E., Grman, E., Hallett, L.M., Avolio, M.L., La Pierre, K.J. et al. 2017. Asynchrony among local communities stabilizes ecosystem function of metacommunities. Ecology Letters. [download]
Zhang J., N. Zhao, C. Liu, H. Yang, M. Li, G. Yu, K. Wilcox, Q. Yu, N. He. 2017. C:N:P stoichiometry in China’s forests: from organs to ecosystems. Functional Ecology. doi:10.1111/1365-2435.12979
Wilcox K., Z. Shi, L. Gherardi, N. Lemoine, S. Koerner, D. Hoover, et al. 2017. Asymmetric responses of primary productivity to climate extremes: a synthesis of grassland precipitation manipulation experiments. Global Change Biology. 23:4376-4385. [download non-formatted] [formatted link]
Smith, M.D., Wilcox, K.R., Power, S.A., Tissue, D.T., Knapp, A.K. 2017. Assessing community and ecosystem sensitivity to climate change – toward a more comparative approach. Journal of Vegetation Science. 28.2: 235-237. [formatted link]
Burkepile, D. E., R. W. S. Fynn, D. Thompson, N. P. Lemoine, S. E. Koerner, S. Eby, N. Hagenah, K. R. Wilcox, S. L. Collins, K. P. Kirkman, A. K. Knapp, and M. D. Smith. 2016. Herbivore size matters for productivity-richness relationships in African savannas. Journal of Ecology. 105:674-686.
Burkepile, D. E., D. Thompson, R. W. S. Fynn, S. E. Koerner, S. Eby, N. Govender, N. Hagenah, N. P. Lemoine, J. R. Matchett, K. R. Wilcox, S. L. Collins, K. P. Kirkman, A. K. Knapp, and M. D. Smith. 2016. Fire frequency drives habitat selection by a diverse herbivore guild impacting top-down control of plant communities in an African savanna. Oikos. 125:1636-1646.
Koerner, S., M. Avolio, K. La Pierre, K. Wilcox, M. Smith, S. Collins. 2016. Nutrient additions cause divergence of tallgrass prairie plant communities resulting in loss of ecosystem stability. Journal of Ecology. 104:1479-1487.
Ji C., Y. Luo, J. Xia, K. Wilcox, L. Jiang, X. Zhou, S. Niu, J. Liang, Z. Shi, J., J. Cao, et al. 2016. Warming effects on ecosystem carbon fluxes are modulated by plant functional groups. Ecosystems. doi:10.1007/s10021-016-0035-6
Wilcox K., J. Blaire, A. Knapp. 2016. Stability of grassland soil C and N pools despite 25 years of an extreme climatic and disturbance regime. JGR: Biogeosciences. 121:1934-1945.
Shi, Z., X. Xu, L. Souza, K. Wilcox, L. Jiang, J. Liang, J. Xia, P. García-Palacios, Y. Luo. 2016. Dual mechanisms regulate ecosystem stability under decade-long warming and biofuel harvest. Nature Communications. 7:doi:10.1038/ncomms11973.
Smith, M. D., A. K. Knapp, S. L. Collins, D. E. Burkepile, K. P. Kirkman, S. E. Koerner, S. Eby, N. Govender, C E. Burns, R. W.S. Fynn, N. Hagenah, K. J. Matchett, D. I. Thompson, J. M. Blair, K. R. Wilcox. 2016. Shared drivers but divergent ecological responses: Insights from long-term experiments in mesic savanna grasslands. BioScience. 66:666-682.
Wilcox K., Blaire J, Smith M, Knapp A. Does ecosystem sensitivity to precipitation at the site-level conform to regional-scale predictions? Ecology. doi: 10.1890/15-1437.1 [download]
Yu Q, K. Wilcox, K. La Pierre, A. Knapp, M. Smith. Stoichiometric homeostasis predicts plant species dominance, stability and responses to global change. Ecology. 96:2328-2335.
Wilcox K., J. von Fischer, J. Muscha, M. Petersen, A. Knapp. 2015. Contrasting above- and belowground sensitivity of three Great Plains grasslands to altered rainfall regimes. Global Change Biology 21:335-344.
Avolio M., K. La Pierre, G. Houseman, E. Grman, F. Isbell, D. S. Johnson, S. Koerner, K. Wilcox. A framework for quantifying the magnitude and variability of community responses to global change drivers. Ecosphere. 6:280. [download]
Knapp, A., D. Hoover, K. Wilcox, M. Avolio, S. Koerner, K. La Pierre, M. Loik, Y. Luo, O. Sala, M. Smith. Characterizing differences in precipitation regimes of extreme wet and dry years beyond amount: Implications for climate change experiments. Global Change Biology. 21:2624-2633.
Avolio M., S. Koerner, K. La Pierre, K. Wilcox, G. Wilson, M. Smith, S. Collins. 2014. Changes in plant community composition, not diversity, drive changes in aboveground productivity during a decade of nitrogen and phosphorus additions in a tallgrass prairie. Journal of Ecology.102:1649-1660.
Koerner S., D. Burkepile, R. Fynn, C. Burns, S. Eby, N. govender, N. Hagenah, K. Matchett, K. Thompson, K. Wilcox, S. Collins, K. Kirkman, A. Knapp, M. Smith. 2014. Plant community response to loss of large herbivores differs between North American and South African savanna grasslands. Ecology 95:808–816. [download]
Eby, S., D. E. Burkepile, R. W. Fynn, C. E. Burns, N. Govender, N. Hagenah, S. E. Koerner, K. J. Matchett, D. I. Thompson, K. R. Wilcox, and others. 2014. Loss of a large grazer impacts savanna grassland plant communities similarly in North America and South Africa. Oecologia 175:293-303.
Kirkman, K., S. Collins, M. Smith, A. Knapp, D. Burkepile, C. Burns, R. Fynn, N. Hagenah, S. Koerner, K. Matchett, D. Thompson, K. Wilcox, P. Wragg. 2014. Responses to fire differ between South African and North American grassland communities. Journal of Vegetation Science 25: 793-804.