Professor, Department of Biology, Colorado State University
Current research interests reflect Alan Knapp’s initial training as a Plant Physiological Ecologist and a two-decade association with large-scale ecosystem research through the NSF Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) program. Thus, traditional leaf-level gas exchange, plant water relations and energy balance studies have been a staple of his research for many years, with a focus on the elucidation of ecophysiological mechanisms that drive ecological processes and reflect evolutionary change. This approach has been broadened by involvement with the Konza Prairie (http://www.konza.ksu.edu/) LTER program. These interactions have provided his groups lab with a strong appreciation for collaborative, interdisciplinary research across broad spatial and temporal scales. Indeed, they now prefer to label themselves as Plant Ecologists that are comfortable working at scales varying from the leaf to the landscape. Collaborative, interdisciplinary research is appealing and important because it provides scientists the opportunity to make key contributions within the specific framework of a single discipline (a traditional approach), as well as the tools to synthesize across disciplines and tackle issues that the single lab approach cannot. This synthetic approach to Ecology will become more important in the future, and it best describes his group’s current and future research interests.