William Jewell Department of Biology  

Dr. Paul Klawinski, professor of biology and department chair
Students are involved in the first four of his five primary research areas:

        • Examining the effects of hurricanes on arthropods, amphibians and reptiles using long-term monitoring and a large-scale, experimental simulation of hurricane damage in 30x30 meter plots in the Luquillo Experimental Forest.
        • Effects of introduced plant species on arthropods and their associated introduced predators (coqui frogs) in lowland moist tropical forests in Hawaii.
        • Studies of the resistance and resilience of communities after land use changes by including former pastures as study sites in the annual Puerto Rico Spider Survey.
        • Examining the role of biodiversity in providing ecosystem services by experimentally manipulating the decomposer community and measuring the effect of different functional groups on decomposition.
        • Examining the biogeography of the Greater and Lesser Antilles using the extant distribution of spiders on these islands. 


Dr. Jennifer Schafer, assistant professor of biology 
My research focuses on the effects of disturbance on plant structure and function, plant population dynamics, community composition, and ecosystem processes. I am particularly interested in the effects of fire and anthropogenic disturbances on plants and ecosystems. Many fire-prone ecosystems have experienced fire suppression or increases in fire frequency, and changes in disturbance regimes may alter community structure and ecosystem function and threaten species persistence. Research on the effects of disturbance is necessary to understand how plants persist in disturbance prone ecosystems, to make predictions about the consequences of changing disturbance regimes, and to inform conservation and management decisions.

        Specific Research Interests

        • Plant Structure and Function
          • Effects of fire frequency and intensity on inter- and intra-specific variation in relative bark thickness and stem survival after fire
          • Seasonal variation in bark moisture content
          • Factors that affect resprouting ability (e.g., pre-disturbance plant size)
          • Effects of resprouting and the change in plant structure (i.e., height and leaf area) on plant water relations and photosynthesis
        • Plant Population Dynamics
          • Effects of natural (e.g., fire) and anthropogenic (e.g., roads) disturbances on recruitment, survival, and reproduction of rare and endemic plants
          • Effects of smoke and heat on seed germination
        • Community Composition
          • Effects of fire regime on plant species richness and diversity and community structure
          • Feedbacks between plant community structure and fire frequency
        • Ecosystem Processes
          • Effects of fire on soil nutrient (e.g., nitrogen and phosphorus) availability
          • Interactive effects of fire and species composition on nutrient limitation of primary productivity

Current Research Opportunities

  • Prairie Restoration at Smithville Lake (in Missouri)
  • Population dynamics and nutrient relations of Chapmannia floridana (Florida Alicia), a perennial plant that is endemic to Florida
    William Jewell College · 500 College Hill · Liberty, MO 64068


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