Grassland Ecologists.. in the lab!

We are interested in species changes at the community level, but we’re also interested in different, smaller scales. Looking at how transcription changes can help identify unique expressed signatures of different species and how they respond to different environments.

Below, graduate students Francis Chaves and Ava Hoffman prepare samples in liquid nitrogen for RNA sequencing. We hope to see that different genotypes of Andropogon gerardii have differences in plasticity over a soil water content gradient.


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Shortgrass Steppe

Although most of the Smith Lab works at Konza, we sometimes visit the Shortgrass Steppe site in Eastern Colorado. Early season rainfall brings out the color at EDGE!IMG_1148

Oxalis stricta


Oxalis stricta (yellow wood sorrel) enjoys the early season sun before its grass neighbors grow tall.

Field Season

The semester is over, which means the lab is gearing up for field season! We are starting new projects and performing spring measurements on our many existing experiments. This year, Sally Koerner will be starting the CHANGE experiment, and the entire lab is launching EDGE, a huge collaborative effort across grasslands in the U.S. We’re also returning to RaMPs – our rainfall manipulation plots – but this time, imposing an extreme drought. Here’s to a productive (pun possibly intended) field season!


ESA 2014

Sally Koerner, Qiang Yu, Francis Chaves, John Dietrich, and Ava Hoffman have been accepted to present at Ecological Society of America’s 99th annual meeting in Sacramento, CA.