Jason Kaye, Ph.D.

Jason Kaye, Ph.D.

  • Distinguished Professor of Soil Biogeochemistry
  • Chair of Ecology Intercollege Graduate Degree Program
407 Agricultural Sciences and Industries Building
University Park, PA 16802

Areas of Expertise

  • Ecosystem ecology
  • Nitrogen cycle
  • Carbon cycle
  • Forest ecosystems
  • Sustainable agriculture


  • Ph.D., Ecology, Colorado State University, 2000
  • M.S., Forestry, Northern Arizona University, 1997
  • B.A., Chemistry, University of Virginia, 1993

Responsibilities and Interests

We use ecosystem ecology as a lens to study the changing biogeochemical cycles of plants and soils. We are particularly interested in the nitrogen cycle.

In forests, a lack of nitrogen often limits plant growth and there are fascinating basic science questions regarding interactions among plants, microorganisms, soils, and hydrology.  In agroecosystems, fertilizers alleviate nitrogen limitations, which helps feed the growing human population, but also generates water and greenhouse gas pollution. There are pressing applied questions regarding our ability sustain yields while reducing nitrogen pollution. 

I teach undergraduate and graduate classes in ecosystem ecology, environmental sustainability, and biogeochemistry. I am currently Chair of the Intercollege Graduate Degree Program in Ecology.


  • 75% Research
  • 25% Teaching


Selected Publications

Email jpk12 at psu dot edu for reprints; the lab web page has a full publication list as does google scholar

  1. Hodges, C., J. Regan, B. Forsythe, D. Oakley, J. Kaye, and S. Brantley. 2023. Using fixed-potential electrodes to quantify iron and manganese redox cycling in upland soils. Biogeochemistry 162:25–42. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10533-022-01012-9.

  2. King, W., S. Richards, L. Kaminsky, B. Bradley, J. Kaye, and T. Bell. 2023. Leveraging microbiome rediversification for the ecological rescue of soil function. Environmental Microbiome 18, 7. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40793-023-00462-4

  3. Kopp, M., Kaye, J., Smeglin, Y.H., Adams, T., Primka, E.J., Bradley, B., Shi, Y. and Eissenstat, D. 2022. Topography Mediates the Response of Soil CO2 Efflux to Precipitation Over Days, Seasons, and Years. Ecosystems. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10021-022-00786-1

  4. White, C.M., D.M. Finney, A.R. Kemanian, J.P. Kaye. 2021. Modeling the contributions of nitrogen mineralization to yield of corn. Agronomy Journal 113: 490-503. https://doi.org/10.1002/agj2.20474

  5. Isbell,S., B. Bradley,A. Morris, J. Wallace, and J.P. Kaye. 2021. Nitrogen dynamics in grain cropping systems integrating multiple ecologically-based management strategies. Ecosphere. 12(2):e03380. 10.1002/ecs2. 3380

  6. McConnell, CA, JP Kaye, and AR Kemanian. 2020. Review and Synthesis: Ironing out wrinkles in the soil phosphorus cycling paradigm. Biogeosciences 17: 5309–5333. https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-17-5309-2020

  7. Baraibar, B. EG Murrell, BA Bradley, ME Barbercheck, DA Mortensen, JP Kaye, CM White. 2020. Cover crop mixture expression is influenced by nitrogen availability and growing degree days. PLOS ONE 15(7): e0235868. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0235868

  8. Kaye, JP, SL Brantley, J Zan Williams, and the CZO Team. 2019. Ideas and perspectives: Proposed best practices for collaboration at cross-disciplinary observatories. Biogeosciences 16: 4661-4669.

  9. Hodges, C., H. Kim, S. L. Brantley, J. Kaye. 2019. Soil CO2 and O2 concentrations illuminate the relative importance of weathering and respiration to seasonal soil gas fluctuations. 2019. Soil Science Society of America Journal. 83:1167–1180. doi: 10.2136/sssaj2019.02.0049

  10. Kaye, J.P, D. Finney, C. White, B. Bradley, M. Schipanski, M. Alonso-Ayuso, M. Hunter, M. Burgess, and C. Mejia. 2019. Managing nitrogen through cover crop species selection in the U.S. mid-Atlantic. Plos One 14(4): e0215448. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0215448

  11. Murrell, E.G., M.E. Schipanski, D.M. Finney, M.C. Hunter, M. Burgess, J.C. LaChance, B. Baraibar, C.M. White, D.A. Mortensen, and J.P. Kaye. 2017. Achieving diverse cover crop mixtures: Effects of planting date and seeding rate.  Agronomy Journal 109:259-271.  doi:10.2134/agronj2016.03.0174

  12. Kaye, J.P., and M. Quemada. 2017.  Using cover crops to mitigate and adapt to climate change: A review.  Agronomy for Sustainable Development 37:4.  DOI 10.1007/s13593-016-0410-x

  13. Hoagland, B., T.A. Russo, X. Gu, L. Hill, J. Kaye, B. Forsythe, and S. L. Brantley. 2017. Hyporheic zone influences on concentration-discharge relationships in a headwater sandstone stream. Water Resour. Res. 53: 4643–4667. doi:10.1002/2016WR019717.

  14. Hasenmueller, E, X. Gu, J. Weitzman, T. Adams, G. Stinchcomb, D. Eissenstat, P. Drohan, S. Brantley, and J. Kaye. 2017. Weathering of rock to regolith: The activity of deep roots in bedrock fractures. Geoderma 300:11-31.

  15. Finney, D.M. and J.P. Kaye. 2016. Functional diversity in cover crop polycultures increases multifunctionality of an agricultural system. Journal of Applied Ecology. doi: 10.1111/1365-2664.12765

  16. White, C.M., A. Kemanian, D.M. Finney, and J.P. Kaye. 2016. A Model-Data Fusion Approach for Predicting Cover Crop Nitrogen Supply to Corn. Agronomy Journal. 108:2527-2540. doi:10.2134/agronj2016.05.0288

  17. Weitzman, J.N, and J.P. Kaye. 2016.  Variability in nitrogen and carbon cycling across forest, urban and agricultural land uses. Ecosystems doi: 10.1007/s10021-016-0007-x

  18. Lewis, D., M. Castellano, and J.P. Kaye. 2014. Forest succession, soil carbon accumulation, and rapid nitrogen storage poorly-remineralized soil organic matter. Ecology 95:2687–2693.

  19. Schipanski, M., M. Barbercheck, M.R. Douglas, D.M. Finney, K. Haider, J.P. Kaye, A.R. Kemanian, D.A. Mortensen, M.R. Ryan, J. Tooker, and C.M. White.  2014. A conceptual framework for evaluating ecosystem services provided by cover crops in agroecosystems.  Agricultural Systems 125:12-22.
  20. McDaniel, M.D., J.P. Kaye, M.W. Kaye, and M.A. Bruns. 2014. Climate change interactions affect soil CO2 efflux and microbial functioning in a post-harvest forest. Oecologia 174:1437-1448.

  21. Collins, S.L., S.R. Carpenter, S.M. Swinton, D. Orstein, D.L. Childers, T.L. Gragson, N.B. Grimm, J.M. Grove, S.L. Harlan, J.P. Kaye, A.K. Knapp, G.P. Kofinas, J.J. Magnuson, W.H. McDowell, J.M. Melack, L.A. Ogden, G.P. Robertson, M.D. Smith, A.C. Whitmer. 2011. An integrated conceptual framework for long-term social-ecological research. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 9:351-357.
  22. Adviento-Borbe, M.A.A., J.P. Kaye, M. A. Bruns, M.D. McDaniel, M. McCoy, S. Harkcom. 2010. Soil greenhouse gas and ammonia emissions in a long-term maize-based cropping systems experiment.  Soil Science Society of America Journal 74:1623-1634.

  23. Kaye, J.P., Romanya, J., and R. Vallejo. 2010. Plant and soil carbon accumulation following fire in Mediterranean woodlands in Spain. Oecologia 164: 533-543.

  24. Castellano, M.J. and J.P. Kaye.  2009.  Global within-site variance in soil solution nitrogen and hydraulic conductivity are correlated with clay content.  Ecosystems. 12:1343-1351.

  25. Kaye, J.P., P. Groffman, N.B. Grimm, L. Baker, and R. Pouyat. 2006. A distinct urban biogeochemistry? Trends in Ecology and Evolution 21:192-199.
  26. Binkley, D., G. Ice, J.P. Kaye, and C. Williams. 2004. Nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations in forest streams of the United States.  Journal of the American Water Resources Association 40:1277-1291.

  27. Burke, I.C., J.P. Kaye, S.P. Bird, S.A. Hall, R.L. McCulley, and G.L. Sommerville. 2003. Evaluating and testing models of terrestrial biogeochemistry: The role of temperature in controlling decomposition.  Pp. 225-253. In: Canham, C.D., J.J. Cole, and W.K. Lauenroth, editors.  Models in Ecosystem Science.  Princeton (NJ): Princeton University Press.

  28. Kaye, J.P., D. Binkley, and C. Rhoades. 2003. Stable soil nitrogen accumulation and flexible organic matter stoichiometry during primary floodplain succession.  Biogeochemistry 63:1-22.

  29. Kaye, J.P., S.C. Resh, M.W. Kaye, and R. Chimner. 2000. Nutrient and carbon dynamics in a replacement series of Eucalyptus and Albizia trees.  Ecology 81:3267-3273.
  30. Boone, R.D., K.J. Nadelhoffer, J.D. Canary, and J.P. Kaye. 1998. Roots exert a strong influence on the temperature sensitivity of soil respiration. Nature (London) 396:570-572.
  31. Kaye, J.P. and S.C. Hart. 1998. Ecological restoration alters nitrogen transformations in a ponderosa pine-bunchgrass ecosystem. Ecological Applications 8:1052-1060.
  32. Kaye, J.P. and S.C. Hart 1997. Competition for nitrogen between plants and soil microorganisms. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 12:139-143.