Meet the Editors: Alan Knapp

Alan Knapp in South Africa
Alan Knapp in South Africa

Ahead of this year’s British Ecological Society Annual Meeting in Birmingham, we wanted to give you the chance to get to know some of the people behind the decision letters. Today, we have Senior Editor Alan Knapp, Professor at Colorado State University (@alan_knapp). Alan is also a Faculty Associate at the Konza Prairie LTER.

Alan will be at the AGU Fall Meeting in Washington, DC.


What can you tell us about the first paper you published?

I published my first paper* as an undergraduate. The research reported therein started as a small-scale independent project for a class, and my advisor encouraged me to expand the research in scope. I was interested in knowing if the high temperatures required to open serotinous pine cones negatively affected the seeds inside. My co-author and advisor handled the proofs of this paper, since I had graduated and left campus, and my excitement at seeing the paper in print was abated somewhat when I realized that my first name was misspelled!

*Knapp, A.K. and J.E. Anderson. 1980. Effect of heat on germination of seeds from serotinous lodgepole pine cones. American Midland Naturalist 104:370-372.


Are you a good cook? What’s your signature dish?

No. I do grill simple cuts of meats outdoors, but indoors I can only follow the most simple and basic of recipes.

How many BES annual meetings have you attended? Which one was the best?

I have only been to one – in Lille, France. So clearly it was the best!

AK Cone_flowersWhat’s your favourite species and why?

I have always liked Echinacea angustifolia, a North America grassland forb that is quite picturesque when it rises about the grasses in early summer.

Who inspired you most as a student?

My undergraduate advisor Jay E. Anderson. He found everything interesting and introduced me to the world of measuring leaf-level photosynthesis and transpiration on intact plants.

When was the last time you had a paper rejected?

I am pretty sure, at least as a co-author, that I have papers rejected in most years. I don’t keep track – which is a good thing I think!

If you could wake up tomorrow with a new skill, what would it be?

I would love to have an aptitude (and ear) for being multi-lingual.

What’s your favourite sports team and why?

I am a fan of both US college football and basketball. I still follow teams from the schools I attended, and Kansas State University, where I was first employed.

Franschhoek (Credit: Olga Ernst)
Franschhoek (Credit: Olga Ernst)

If you could recommend one place for people to travel to on holiday, where would it be and why?

This is a tie. Franschhoek, South Africa. Beautiful setting, great restaurants and lots of wineries. And anywhere in the Marlborough region on the South Island of New Zealand. For the same reasons as Franschhoek.

What was the first album you owned?

Led Zeppelin IV

If any fictional character could join your lab, who would it be and why?

I could put any superhero to good use.


Alan is a professor of Biology and Senior Ecologist for the Graduate Degree Program in Ecology at Colorado State University. Previously, he served as the principal investigator of the NSF-funded Konza Prairie LTER site in Kansas and as a University Distinguished Professor at Kansas State University. His research has assessed both direct and interactive effects of fire, grazing and climate in grasslands. Current research interests focus on understanding how climatic variability drives ecosystem dynamics, and on interactions between projected global change phenomenon and plant ecophysiological, organismal and community responses. Alan’s website is here.

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