Jon Bakker's Research Interests
Restoration of Pacific Northwest Prairies
Unbeknownst to many, the Pacific Northwest used to contain ~ 180,000 acres of prairie. Most of these areas have been lost due to tree encroachment and development. We are working with the National Park Service and the US Fish and Wildlife Service to develop ways of restoring diverse prairie vegetation. Doing so will also improve habitat for a number of endangered species in the Northwest.

I am also collaborating with Janneke Hille Ris Lambers (UW Biology) and others in a coordinated global research network (NutNet - The Nutrient Network) investigating the effects of resources and herbivory on ecosystem processes in grasslands.

Restoration of Oak Savannas
Oregon white oak (Quercus garryana) is the only oak native to the Pacific Northwest, where it occurs on both sides of the Cascades and in a range of ecosystems. Oak savannas have significant conservation value but are at risk from urban development and encroachment by Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii). In collaboration with The Nature Conservancy, we are working to characterize current stand conditions, establish oak seedlings in an old agricultural field, and evaluate the effects of silvicultural release treatments that remove Douglas-fir ingrowth while preserving large, old oaks and Douglas-firs.

Fire in the Shrub Steppe
Thousands of hectares of high quality shrub steppe burned in large fires in 2000 and 2007 in the Arid Lands Ecology (ALE) Reserve on the Hanford Reach National Monument. We are resampling permanent vegetation monitoring plots to address key questions regarding the interactions of native vegetation, invasive species, rehabilitation actions, and repeated fires. The results of this study will inform immediate management decisions regarding present and future post-fire habitat rehabilitation measures on the ALE Reserve, the National Monument and other shrub steppe sites, and will provide a critical understanding of the long-term dynamics of these significant shrub steppe systems. This project is a collaboration with Dr. Peter Dunwiddie (UW), Dr. Sonia Hall (The Nature Conservancy) and Dr. Mike Gregg (US Fish and Wildlife Service), and is funded by the Joint Fire Science Program.  More details are available here.

Long-Term Vegetation Dynamics
Long-term datasets are invaluable and under-utilized. Often, people do not even know of their existence or value! In collaboration with colleagues from Northern Arizona University, I am using a rare dataset (1909-present) to examine vegetation dynamics in southwestern ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) forests. These forests have undergone dramatic changes in the last century, but data quantifying these changes are rare. Understanding vegetation dynamics over the last century will also improve our ability to predict dynamics into the future.

We are also using these data to validate the regional variant of FVS, a forest growth model.  This project is a collaboration with Dr. Eric Turnblom (UW), and is funded by the USDA NRI.

Statistical Methods for Community Ecology
Conventional parametric statistics are applicable in many situations, but are often poorly suited to community ecology.  I teach a course examining more appropriate techniques, and am exploring some of these techniques in more detail, including:
  • Indicator Species Analysis
  • Permutational MANOVA
  • Bayesian statistics