Vegetation Ecology

John Taft’s research focuses on vegetation ecology of oak woodland and grassland habitats with an emphasis on factors that influence structure, composition, and diversity.  Projects span a range of topics from plant-soil interactions, edge effects in small and isolated prairie remnants, development and testing of habitat-quality indices useful in habitat restoration and natural areas surveys, interactions between overstory and ground layer vegetation and fire effects in fire-dependent oak woodland ecosystems, and ecology of montane grassland ecosystems.

Example of a hemi-spherical canopy photo used to measure canopy cover in shrub-encroached prairie in Lake County, Illinois.

Monitoring prairie restoration following shrub removal in Lake County, Illinois.

Gibbons Creek Barrens in Pope County, Illinois, a long-term research project examining effects of prescribed fire on community structure. This image illustrates effects of four prescribed burns.

Prospect Cemetery Prairie Nature Preserve, a site of long-term research examining edge effects in small, isolated prairie remnants.