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.



hemi-spherical canopy photo Monitoring prairie restoration

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 Prospect Cemetery Prairie Nature Preserve

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.