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Dr. Jane M. Lucas

Community Ecologist | PhD, University of Oklahoma

microbial ecology, ecology of antibiotics, agricultural ecosystems and soil health, global change ecology, ecology of microbiomes, plant-insect-microbe interactions, bioinformatics, multi-omics techniques

External site:

845 677-7600

Jane Lucas studies microbial communities, which exist in nearly every environment and play a key role in nutrient cycling. These tiny and abundant microorganisms help fertilize plants and recycle organic debris, with important implications for agriculture and ecosystem health. Lucas is working to uncover the hidden complexity of microbial life, primarily in soils, from tropical forests to farmlands around the world. A central question: How are people impacting the composition and function of microbial communities?

Lucas’ current research is investigating how livestock practices shape antibiotic resistance. Antibiotics given to livestock inject biologically active compounds into the environment – with unknown consequences. Using field studies and new molecular tools, Lucas is examining how livestock antibiotics affect soil microbes, soil carbon storage, nitrogen cycling, and the rise of antibiotic resistance.

The ‘One Health’ approach is central to Lucas’ work. This is the idea that agriculture, the environment, and public health are inextricably linked. Lucas aims to work with farmers and government agencies to encourage sustainable agricultural practices that support healthy ecosystems and meet global food demands.

Before coming to Cary, Lucas completed a USDA Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Idaho. She received her PhD in ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Oklahoma, where she studied how nutrient availability and antibiotics influence tropical soil communities. Past work has looked at how antifungal and antibacterial compounds affect decomposition in soils, and how activities of a tropical ant impact microorganisms and nutrient cycling in its environment.

McBride, SG, ED Osburn, Jane M. Lucas, JS Simpson, T Brown, JE Barrett, and MS Strickland. 2022. “Volatile And Dissolved Organic Carbon Sources Have Distinct Effects On Microbial Activity, Nitrogen Content, And Bacterial Communities In Soil”. Microbial Ecology. doi:10.1007/s00248-022-01967-0.
Osburn, ED, PJ Hoch, Jane M. Lucas, SG McBride, and MS Strickland. 2022. “Evaluating The Roles Of Microbial Functional Breadth And Home-Field Advantage In Leaf Litter Decomposition”. Functional Ecology. doi:10.1111/1365-2435.14026.
Lucas, Jane M., BS Sone, D Whitmore, and MS Strickland. (DEC) 2021. “Antibiotics And Temperature Interact To Disrupt Soil Communities And Nutrient Cycling”. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 163. doi:10.1016/j.soilbio.2021.108437.
Joseph, N, Jane M. Lucas, N Viswanath, R Findlay, J Sprinkle, MS Strickland, E Winford, and AS Kolok. (APR 15) 2021. “Investigation Of Relationships Between Fecal Contamination, Cattle Grazing, Human Recreation, And Microbial Source Tracking Markers In A Mixed-Land-Use Rangeland Watershed”. Water Research 194.
Lucas, Jane M., J Jonas, AN Laws, DH Branson, SC Pennings, CM Prather, and MS Strickland. (JAN) 2021. “Functional And Taxonomic Diversity Of Grasshoppers Differentially Shape Above- And Below-Ground Communities And Their Function”. Functional Ecology 35 (1): 167-180, .
Lucas, Jane M., SG McBride, and MS Strickland. (APR) 2020. “Trophic Level Mediates Soil Microbial Community Composition And Function”. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 143.
Wepking, C, B Badgley, JE Barrett, KF Knowlton, Jane M. Lucas, KJ Minick, PP Ray, SE Shawver, and MS Strickland. (DEC) 2019. “Prolonged Exposure To Manure From Livestock-Administered Antibiotics Decreases Ecosystem Carbon-Use Efficiency And Alters Nitrogen Cycling”. Ecology Letters 22 (12): 2067-2076, .
Danielsson, R, Jane M. Lucas, J Dahlberg, M Ramin, S Agenas, AR Bayat, I Tapio, T Hammer, and T Roslin. (OCT) 2019. “Compound- And Context-Dependent Effects Of Antibiotics On Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Livestock”. Royal Society Open Science 6 (10).
Lucas, Jane M., AA Madden, CA Penick, MJ Epps, PR Marting, JL Stevens, DJ Fergus, RR Dunn, and EK Meineke. (JUL 31) 2019. “Azteca Ants Maintain Unique Microbiomes Across Functionally Distinct Nest Chambers”. Proceedings Of The Royal Society B-Biological Sciences 286 (1908).
Gora, Evan M., and Jane M. Lucas. 2019. “Dispersal And Nutrient Limitations Of Decomposition Above The Forest Floor: Evidence From Experimental Manipulations Of Epiphytes And Macronutrients”. Functional Ecology 33. Wiley Online Library: 2417-2429. doi:10.1111/1365-2435.13440.
Gora, Evan M., Jane M. Lucas, and Stephen P. Yanoviak. 2019. “Microbial Composition And Wood Decomposition Rates Vary With Microclimate From The Ground To The Canopy In A Tropical Forest”. Ecosystems 22: 1206-1219.
Lucas, Jane M., Evan M. Gora, Annika Salzberg, and Michael Kaspari. 2019. “Antibiotics As Chemical Warfare Across Multiple Taxonomic Domains And Trophic Levels In Brown Food Webs”. Proceedings Of The Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 286: 20191536. doi:doi:10.1098/rspb.2019.1536.
Lucas, Jane M., NA Clay, and M Kaspari. (OCT) 2018. “Nutrient Transfer Supports A Beneficial Relationship Between The Canopy Ant, Azteca Trigona, And Its Host Tree”. Ecological Entomology 43 (5): 621-628, .
Lucas, Jane M., Evan M. Gora, and Alfonso Alonso. 2017. “A View Of The Global Conservation Job Market And How To Succeed In It”. Conservation Biology 31: 1223-1231. doi:10.1111/cobi.12949.
Lucas, Jane M., B Bill, B Stevenson, and M Kaspari. (FEB) 2017. “The Microbiome Of The Ant-Built Home: The Microbial Communities Of A Tropical Arboreal Ant And Its Nest”. Ecosphere 8 (2).
Kaspari, M, NA Clay, Jane M. Lucas, S Revzen, A Kay, and SP Yanoviak. (APR) 2016. “Thermal Adaptation And Phosphorus Shape Thermal Performance In An Assemblage Of Rainforest Ants”. Ecology 97 (4): 1038-1047, .
Clay, NA, Jane M. Lucas, M Kaspari, and AD Kay. (NOV) 2013. “Manna From Heaven: Refuse From An Arboreal Ant Links Aboveground And Belowground Processes In A Lowland Tropical Forest”. Ecosphere 4 (11).
Kaspari, M, D Donoso, Jane M. Lucas, T Zumbusch, and AD Kay. (NOV) 2012. “Using Nutritional Ecology To Predict Community Structure: A Field Test In Neotropical Ants”. Ecosphere 3 (11).
LUBCHENCO, J, BA MENGE, SD GARRITY, PJ LUBCHENCO, LR ASHKENAS, SD GAINES, R EMLET, Jane M. Lucas, and S STRAUSS. 1984. “Structure, Persistence, And Role Of Consumers In A Tropical Rocky Intertidal Community (Taboguilla Island, Bay Of Panama)”. Journal Of Experimental Marine Biology And Ecology 78 (1-2): 23-73, .