US Forest Service Research & Development
Contact Information
  • US Forest Service Research & Development
  • 1400 Independence Ave., SW
  • Washington, D.C. 20250-0003
  • 800-832-1355
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Jackie Ott

Jacqueline P. Ott

Research Ecologist
8221 Mt Rushmore Road
Rapid City
South Dakota
United States

Phone: 605-716-2210
Contact Jacqueline P. Ott

Current Research

My research addresses basic and applied questions in grassland and shrubland ecology and can be broadly summarized under five topics.

Fire Ecology
• Examining post-fire regeneration in mixed-grass prairie and sagebrush steppe across a gradient of annual brome invasion
• Measuring the effect of fuel load on soil heating and subsequent vegetation responses in grassland and shrubland systems
• Evaluating the effect of post-fire drought on vegetation recovery in mixed-grass prairie
• Identifying societal perspectives on prescribed fire use across western North Dakota

• Examining drought effects on bud production, size, dormancy, and mortality of perennial grass species
• Investigating seasonal and long-term extreme drought effects on mixed-grass prairie
• Developing and Validating PhenoMap: A web application monitoring phenology (“greenness”) across the United States
• Validating the South Dakota Drought Tool which provides managers forage production predictions throughout the growing season

Invasive species
• Comparing the effects of precipitation frequency and grazing on growth and competition of the invasive perennial grass Smooth Brome (Bromus inermis)
    and the native perennial grass Western Wheatgrass (Pascopyrum smithii)
• Using plant traits to identify characteristics of noxious weeds according to ecoregion

Human impacts
• Assessing the status of plant and wildlife communities on the Badlands Bombing Range

Belowground plant traits
• Developing methods to measure belowground plant traits
• Documenting belowground plant traits across precipitation and temperature gradients in the Great Plains

Research Interests

Grasslands and shrublands were historically shaped by three major drivers: climate, grazing, and fire. In addition to these historic drivers, our society has found many uses for grasslands and shrublands, such as energy development and livestock grazing, as well as introduced new threats, such as invasive species, that can greatly alter these landscapes. My research interests center around the response of grasslands and shrublands to these drivers and anthropogenic uses and effects.

In order to provide science-based knowledge to managers, I seek to understand both the pattern of grassland and shrubland response and the underlying mechanism driving their response to these major grassland drivers. Looking at the less studied belowground mechanisms (bud banks, nutrient availability, soil heating) can provide a deeper understanding of aboveground responses. Therefore, I aim to work at the nexus of basic and applied ecology to provide fundamental and applied information and tools for scientists and managers.

Past Research

My past research has included:

  • Determining the bud bank and tiller dynamics of multiple perennial grass species in mixed-grass and tallgrass prairie
  • Assessing belowground traits of dominant grass species in southern African savannas
  • Determining the herbivory response of the African savanna tree Colophospermum mopane
  • Summarizing potential effects and mitigation opportunities during energy development on the Great Plains and specifically for the Little Missouri National Grassland in North Dakota

Why This Research is Important

Managers require science-based knowledge and tools to aid in their decision-making. Research identifying and evaluating how grasslands and shrublands will respond to major ecosystem drivers is critical to enabling managers to make informed decisions. Research understanding the mechanisms driving these responses will provide managers the tools to think through how grasslands and shrublands will respond to a new situation than has been previously studied or experienced.


  • Kansas State University, Ph.D. Biology (Plant Ecology) 2014
  • Kansas State University, Certificate Applied Statistics 2011
  • Kansas State University, M.S. Biology (Plant Ecology) 2009
  • Concordia University- Nebraska, B.S. Biology 2006

Professional Experience

  • Research Ecologist, RMRS
    2016 - Current
  • Post-doctoral Ecologist/ Research Associate, South Dakota State University/RMRS
    2014 - 2016

Professional Organizations

  • International Association of Vegetation Science, Member (2018 - Current)
  • USFS National Grassland Council, Member, Education & Outreach Chair (2017 - Current)
  • Society of Range Management, Member (2015 - Current)
  • Ecological Society of America, Member (2009 - Current)
  • Botanical Society of America, Member (2008 - Current)

Awards & Recognition

  • RMRS Early Career Scientist Publication, 2020
    Recognizes an outstanding publication by a RMRS early career scientist
  • Regional Forester's Honor Award for Excellence in Science and Technology, 2016
    Awarded in USFS Region 1 to a team of managers and scientists
  • Chris Edler Award for Outstanding Research on Konza Prairie Biological Station, 2013
    Awarded annually to a graduate student within the Division of Biology at Kansas State University
  • Presidential Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, 2012
    Awarded annually to one graduate student at Kansas State University
  • John C. Frazier Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Research in Plant Science, 2008
    Awarded annually within the Division of Biology at Kansas State University


Citations of non US Forest Service Publications

  • Ott J.P., Hartnett D.C. 2015. Bud bank and tiller dynamics of co-occurring C3 caespitose grasses in mixed-grass prairie. American Journal of Botany 102: 1462-1471.

    Ott J.P., Hartnett D.C. 2015. Vegetative reproduction and bud bank dynamics of the perennial grass Andropogon gerardii in mixed-grass and tallgrass prairie. American Midland Naturalist 174:14-32.

    Ott, J.P. and D.C. Hartnett. 2015. Bud bank dynamics and clonal growth strategy in the rhizomatous grass, Pascopyrum smithii. Plant Ecology 3: 395-405.

    Ott, J.P. 2014. Ecological implications of grass bud bank and tiller dynamics in mixed-grass prairie.  PhD dissertation, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, USA.

    Hartnett, D.C., G.W.T. Wilson, J.P. Ott, and M. Setshogo. 2013. Variation in root system traits among African savanna grasses: implications for drought tolerance. Austral Ecology 38:383-392.

    Dalgleish, H.J., J.P. Ott, D.C. Hartnett, and M. Setshogo. 2012. Inter-specific variation in bud banks and flowering effort among semi-arid African savanna grasses. South African Journal of Botany 83: 127-133.

    Ott, J.P. and D.C. Hartnett. 2012a. Contrasting bud bank dynamics of two co-occurring perennial grasses in tallgrass prairie: implications for grassland dynamics. Plant Ecology 213(9): 1437-1448.

    Ott, J.P. and D.C. Hartnett. 2012b. Higher-order bud production increases tillering capacity in the perennial caespitose grass Scribner’s Panicum (Dichanthelium oligosanthes). Botany 90 (9): 884-890.

    Hartnett, D.C., J.P. Ott, K. Sebes, and M.K. Ditlhogo. 2012. Coping with herbivory at the juvenile stage: responses to defoliation and browsing in the African savanna tree Colophospermum mopane. Journal of Tropical Ecology 28: 161-169.

    Ott, J.P. and D.C. Hartnett. 2011. Bud production and dynamics of flowering and vegetative tillers in Andropogon gerardii (Poaceae): The role of developmental constraints. American Journal of Botany 98(8): 1293-1298.

    Ott, J.P. 2009. Bud bank morphology, dynamics, and production in perennial grasses. MS thesis, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS, USA.





Research Highlights


Climate Change and Grazing Alter Invasive and Native Perennial Grass Stem Recruitment

Scientists found that smooth brome, an invasive perennial grass, out-performed the native western wheatgrass under a variety of temperature and ...


Last updated on : 09/22/2020