Kimberly Komatsu

Kimberly Komatsu

Komatsu, Kimberly

Associate Professor, Florence Schaeffer Distinguished Scholar

323 Sullivan Building


Community Ecology, Plant Community Dynamics, Plant-Insect Interactions, Legume-Rhizobia Mutualisms, Global Change


Ph.D., Yale University


We investigate how ecosystem responses to global change drivers are mediated by biotic processes. Specifically, we study how ecosystem function is influenced by mutualisms, competition, consumers, and alterations in abiotic resource availability. Projects in our lab examine a diverse suite of global change drivers, such as nutrient deposition and runoff, consumer loss, altered climatic regimes, and species invasions, and span a broad range of ecosystems including grasslands, forests, and agroecosystems. We use tools such as observational data collection, long-term field experiments, and data synthesis to address critical questions related to global change in these natural and working landscapes.


Hruska, A, Cawood, A, Pagenkopp Lohan, KM, Ogburn, MB, Komatsu, KJ. 2022. Going remote: Recommendations for normalizing virtual internships to promote diversity and inclusivity. Ecosphere. 13 (3): e3961.

Shamon, H and 31 others (including KJ Komatsu). 2022. The potential of bison restoration as an ecological approach to future tribal food sovereignty on the Northern Great Plains. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution

Canty, SWJ, Nowakowski, AJ, Connette, GM, Deichmann, JL, Songer, M, Chiaravalloti, R, Dodge, M, Feistner, ATC, Fergus, C, Hall, JS, Komatsu, KJ, Linares-Palomino, R, McField, M, Ogburn, MB, Velez-Zuazo, X, Akre, TS. 2022. Mapping a conservation research network to the Sustainable Development Goals. Conservation Science and Practice. e12731.

O’Connor, MI, Mori, AK, Gonzalez, A, Dee, LE, Loreau, M, Avolio, M, Byrnes, JEK, Cheung, W, Cowles, J, Clark, AT, Hautier, Y, Hector, A, Komatsu, KJ, Newbold, T, Outhwaite, CL, Reich, PB, Seabloom, E, Williams, L, Wright, A, Isbell, F. 2021. Grand challenges in biodiversity-ecosystem function research in the era of science-policy platforms require explicit considerations of feedbacks. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 288 (1960): e20210783.

Avolio, MA, Komatsu, KJ and 26 others. 2021. Determinants of community compositional change are equally affected by global change. Ecology Letters. 24 (9): 1892-1904.

Gray, J, Komatsu, KJ, Smith, MD. 2021. Defining codominance in plant communities. New Phytologist. 230 (5): 1716-1730.

Wilcox, KR, Komatsu, KJ, Avolio ML, and the C2E Consortium. 2020. Improving collaborations between empiricists and modelers to advance grassland community dynamics in ecosystem models. New Phytologist. 228 (5): 1467-1471.

Avolio, MA, Wilcox, KR, Komatsu, KJ, Lemoine, N, Bowman, WD, Collins, SL, Knapp, A, Koerner, SE, Smith, MD, Baer, S, Gross, KL, Isbell, F, McLaren, J, Reich, P, Suding, KN, Suttle, KB, Tilman, D, Xu, Z, Yu, Q. 2020. Temporal variability in production is not consistently affected by global change drivers across herbaceous-dominated ecosystems. Oecologia. 194 (4): 735-744.

Komatsu, KJ, Simms, EL. 2020. Invasive legume management strategies differentially impact mutualist abundance and benefit to native and invasive hosts. Restoration Ecology. 28 (2): 378-386.

Bloodworth, KJ, Ritchie, ME, Komatsu, KJ. 2020. Effects of white-tailed deer exclusion on the plant community composition of an upland tallgrass prairie ecosystem. Journal of Vegetation Science. 31 (5): 899-907. https://doi-org/10.1111/jvs.12910

Taylor, BN, Simms, EL, Komatsu, KJ. 2020. More Than a Functional Group: Diversity within the Legume–Rhizobia Mutualism and Its Relationship with Ecosystem Function. Diversity. 12 (2): 50. (in Special Issue: Symbioses and the Biodiversity-Ecosystem Function Relationship)

Smith, MD, Koerner, SE, Knapp, AK, Avolio, MA, Chaves, FA, Denton, EM, Dietrich, J, Gibson, DJ, Gray, J, Hoffman, AM, Hoover, DL, Komatsu, KJ, Silletti, A, Wilcox, KR, Yu, Q, Blair, M. 2020. Mass ratio effects underlie ecosystem responses to environmental change. Journal of Ecology. 108 (3): 855-864.

Avolio, ML, Carroll, IT, Collins, SL, Houseman, GR, Hallett, LM, Isbell, F, Koerner, SE, Komatsu, KJ, Smith, MD, Wilcox, KR. 2019. A comprehensive approach to analyzing community dynamics using rank abundance curves. Ecosphere. 10 (10): e02881.

Komatsu, KJ and 75 others. 2019. Global change effects on plant communities are magnified by time and the number of global change factors imposed. Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences. 116 (36): 17867-17873.

Avolio, ML, Forrestel, EJ, Chang, CC, La Pierre, KJ, Burghardt, KT, Smith, MD. 2019. Tansley review: Demystifying dominant species. New Phytologist. 223 (3): 1106-1126.

Langley, JA, Chapman, SK, La Pierre, KJ, Avolio, ML, Bowman, WD, Johnson, DS, Isbell, F, Wilcox, KR, Foster, BL, Hovenden, MJ, Knapp, AK, Koerner, SE, Lortie, CJ, Megonigal, JP, Newton, PCD, Reich, PB, Smith, MD, Suttle, KB, Tilman, D. 2018. Ambient changes exceed treatment effects on plant species abundance in global change experiments. Global Change Biology. 24 (12): 5668-5679.

Collins, SL, Avolio, ML, Gries, C, Hallett, LM, Koerner, SE, La Pierre, KJ, Rypel, AL, Sokol, ER, Fey, SB, Flynn, DFB, Jones, SK, Ladwig, LM, Ripplinger, J, Jones, MB. 2018. Temporal heterogeneity increases with spatial heterogeneity in ecological communities. Ecology. 99 (4): 858-865.

La Pierre, KJ, Simms, EL, Tariq, M, Zafar, M, Porter, SS. 2018. Invasive legumes can associate with many mutualists of native legumes, but usually do not. Ecology and Evolution7 (20): 8599-8611.

Wilcox, KR and 44 others (including KJ La Pierre). 2017. Asynchrony among local communities stabilizes ecosystem function of metacommunities. Ecology Letters. 20 (12): 1534-1545.

La Pierre, KJ, Blumenthal, DM, Brown, CS, Klein, JA, Smith, MD. 2016. Drivers of variation in ANPP and plant community composition differ across a broad precipitation gradient. Ecosystems. 19 (3): 521-533.

La Pierre, KJ, Smith, MD. 2016Soil nutrient additions increase invertebrate herbivore abundances, but not herbivory across three grassland systems. Oecologia180 (2): 485-497.

Koerner, SK, Avolio, ML, La Pierre, KJ, Wilcox, KR, Smith, MD, Collins, SL. 2016. Nutrient additions cause divergence of tallgrass prairie plant communities resulting in loss of ecosystem stability. Journal of Ecology. 104: 1478-1487.

Avolio, ML, La Pierre, KJ, Houseman, GR, Koerner, SE, Grman, E, Isbell, F, Johnson, DS, Wilcox, KR. 2015. A framework for quantifying the magnitude and variability of community responses to global change drivers. Ecosphere. 6 (12): 1-14.

La Pierre, KJ, Smith, MD. 2015. Functional trait expression of grassland species shift with short- and long-term nutrient additions. Plant Ecology. 216 (2): 307-318.

La Pierre, KJ, Joern, A, Smith, MD. 2015. Invertebrate, not small vertebrate, herbivory interacts with nutrient availability to impact tallgrass prairie community composition and forb biomass. Oikos. 124 (7): 842-850.

Yu, Q, Wilcox, KR, La Pierre, KJ, Knapp, AK, Han, X, Smith, MD. 2015. Stoichiometric homeostasis predicts plant species dominance, temporal stability and responses to global change. Ecology. 96 (9): 2328-2335.

Smith, MD, La Pierre, KJ, Collins, SL, Knapp, AK, Gross, KL, Barrett, JE, Frey, SD, Gough, L, Miller, RJ, Morris, JT, Rustad, LE, Yarie, J. 2015. Global environmental change and the nature of aboveground net primary productivity responses: Insights from long-term experiments. Oecologia. 177 (4): 935-947.

Avolio, ML, Koerner, SE, La Pierre, KJ, Wilcox, KR, Wilson, GWT, Smith, MD, Collins, SL. 2014. Changes in plant community composition, not diversity, during a decade of nitrogen and phosphorus additions drive aboveground productivity in a tallgrass prairie. Journal of Ecology. 102 (6): 1649-1660.

Robinson, TMP, La Pierre, KJ, Vadeboncoeur, MA, Byrne, KM, Thomey, ML, Colby, SE. 2012. Seasonal, not annual precipitation drives community productivity across ecosystems. Oikos. 122:727-738.

La Pierre, KJ, Yuan, S, Chang, CC, Avolio, MA, Hallett, LM, Schreck, T, Smith, MD. 2011. Explaining temporal variation in aboveground productivity in a mesic grassland: the role of climate and flowering. Journal of Ecology. 99 (5): 1250-1262.

La Pierre, KJ, Harpole, WS, Suding, KN. 2010. Strong feeding preference of an exotic generalist herbivore for an exotic forb: a case of invasional antagonism. Biological Invasions12 (9): 3025-3031.

Complete list of publications in google scholar


  • Principles of Ecology (BIO 301)
  • Insect Apocalypse (BIO 449)