My research interests lie in understanding the fundamental drivers of community assembly, diversity ecosystem function relationships, and the coupling of this knowledge with concepts in and approaches to restoration ecology. To do this I use both large-scale observational and experimental studies to ask how ecological interactions, including global environmental changes, large grazers, small mammals, and functional traits, alter the assembly of plant communities and how theses plant assemblages provide ecosystem functions.
My current research in the Orrock lab focuses on how invasive shrubs and consumers, small mammals and deer, modify tree establishment and understory plant diversity in Midwestern forests spanning a rural-to-urban gradient.
My previous research has focused on how the reintroduction of bison affect oak savanna plant communities and testing trait-based community assembly theory using tallgrass prairie restoration.
Email: crzirbel (at) wisc.edu