Jason Kaye, Ph.D.

  • Professor of Soil Biogeochemistry
  • Chair of Ecology Intercollege Graduate Degree Program
Jason Kaye, Ph.D.
416 Agricultural Sciences and Industries Building
University Park, PA 16802
Work Phone: 814-863-1614

Areas of Expertise

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


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

Responsibilities and Interests:

We use ecosystem ecology as a lens to study the changing biogeochemical cycles of terrestrial ecosystems. 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

  1. 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.

  2. Sullivan, P. L., Y. Goddéris, Y. Shi, X. Gu, J. Schott, E.A. Hasenmueller, J.P. Kaye, C. Duffy, H. Lin, and S. Brantley. 2019. Exploring the effect of aspect to inform future earthcasts of climate‐driven changes in weathering of shale. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 124. https://

  3. Murrell E.G., Ray S., Lemmon M.E., Luthe D.S., Kaye J.P. 2019. Cover crop species affect mycorrhizae-mediated nutrient uptake and pest resistance in maize. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems.

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. Hasenmueller, E., L. Jin, G. Stinchcomb, H. Lin, S. Brantley, J.P. Kaye. 2015.  Topographic controls on the depth distribution of soil CO2 in a small temperate watershed. Applied Geochemistry 63:58-69.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.
  12. Castellano, M., D. Lewis, and J.P. Kaye. 2013. Response of soil nitrogen retention to the interactive effects of soil texture, hydrology, and organic matter.  JGR-Biogeosciences  118:280-290.
  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. Kaye, J.P., Majumdar, A., Gries, C., Hope, D., Grimm, N., Zhu, W., Baker, L. 2008. Hierarchical Bayesian scaling of soil properties across urban, agricultural, and desert ecosystems. Ecological Applications 18:132-145.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. Kaye, J.P., J.E. Barrett, and I.C. Burke. 2002.  Stable carbon and nitrogen pools in grassland soils of variable texture and carbon content.  Ecosystems 5: 461-471.

  23. 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.

  24. 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.
  25. Kaye, J.P. and S.C. Hart. 1998. Ecological restoration alters nitrogen transformations in a ponderosa pine-bunchgrass ecosystem. Ecological Applications 8:1052-1060.
  26. Kaye, J.P. and S.C. Hart 1997. Competition for nitrogen between plants and soil microorganisms. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 12:139-143.