Two central questions in ecology are:
- What determines the abundance and diversity of organisms at a particular location?
- Does diversity matter to how ecosystems function?
The Prather lab uses observational and manipulative field experiments coupled with analytical chemistry, molecular biology techniques and theoretical models to answer these questions in a range of ecosystems from tropical rainforests to rare coastal tallgrass prairies. We are particularly fascinated by the small, underappreciated, and species invertebrates. Currently, we have two major projects that aim to understand:
1) What structures invertebrate communities? Particularly, what role do micronutrients play in structuring insect communities in coastal tallgrass prairie?
2) How these communities affect ecosystem functioning? Particularly, does the diversity of grasshoppers affect grassland ecosystem functioning?
Dr. Prather is interested in a wide variety of other questions as well. Here are some other ongoing projects in the Prather lab: