Jeff Dukes and his research group seek to address environmental challenges through ecological research and outreach. Their research currently focuses on three themes: understanding how ecosystems respond to climate and atmospheric change, understanding and minimizing the impacts of invasive species on ecosystems, and exploring the ecological consequences of switching our energy supply from fossil fuels to biofuels. Dukes has a particular interest in understanding how changes in climate and the atmosphere will affect the success and impact of invasive species.
Dukes directs the Boston-Area Climate Experiment (BACE), which characterizes ecosystem responses to gradients of climate change. Will the processes and properties of communities and ecosystems respond linearly to changes in temperature, or are there important threshold temperatures that could be reached? To what extent does an ecosystem's response to warming depend on precipitation patterns? The BACE tests these questions in a New England old-field ecosystem. Researchers are measuring responses of several variables, including growth of wildflowers, grasses, and tree seedlings.
Dukes also leads the INTERFACE research coordination network, which brings together experimentalists and modelers from around the world to advance global environmental change research. The network seeks to facilitate the incorporation of realistic biological responses into Earth system models (ESMs), and the design of field experiments and computer simulations that are best suited to improving the performance of ESMs.
A collaborative project with researchers at UMass Boston examines how plants control the composition of microbial communities surrounding roots, and how these microbial communities mediate competition among plants.
Dukes's past research has shown that some terrestrial ecosystems may slow climate change less than previously assumed, that some biodiversity losses may affect the success and impact of invasive species, that about 100 tons of ancient plant matter were required to produce a gallon of gasoline, and that replacing fossil fuels with modern plant matter would demand more than a quarter of all plant growth on land.
Jeff Dukes has appointments in Purdue's Departments of Forestry and Natural Resources and Biological Sciences, and is involved in the Purdue Climate Change Research Center. He moved to Purdue in August 2008 from the Department of Biology at the University of Massachusetts Boston, where he now holds an adjunct appointment. For more information, and for publications, visit Prof. Dukes's personal web page, or web pages for the Dukes lab and the Boston-Area Climate Experiment. If you are interested in joining the Dukes lab, please contact Prof. Dukes by email. Prospective graduate students can apply through the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, the Department of Biological Sciences, the Ecological Sciences and Engineering (ESE) Program, and other avenues. Some of these avenues offer excellent competitive fellowships.