Professor Geology, Environmental Policy and Decision Making
Kena Fox-Dobbs is an environmental scientist interested in how human activities, such as the encroachment of cities on natural habitats, change natural patterns across ecosystems. She uses biogeochemical techniques to investigate questions relating to the ecology of fossil animals and plants. Her work also examines issues that may help predict the effect of climate change on plants and small mammals. Fox-Dobbs received funding from the National Science Foundation for a project titled “Evolutionary and ecological responses of small mammal communities to habitat and climate change over the last 5 million years.” The work in the southwest Kansas grasslands will test models of faunal change in response to changes in the animal, plant, chemical, and physical environment over five million years, including the time of the Ice Age. Other projects have included a study of the grazing habits of African male gazelles and estimating how termites affect nutrient cycling in a Kenyan savannah. Articles include the co-written “Termites create spatial structure and govern ecosystem function by affecting N2 fixation in an East African savanna,” in Ecology, (2010) and “Cooperation and individuality among man-eating lions,” in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences(2009), which was covered by the Discovery Channel. Fox-Dobbs’ students have researched price points and marketing strategies for grass-fed beef, and the adaptation of raccoons and possums to the availability of human food. She teaches in the areas of environmental science, fossil records, dinosaurs, and biogeochemical approaches to environmental science.