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Jacqueline P. Ott

Jackie Ott

Research Ecologist

8221 Mt Rushmore Road
Rapid City, SD 57702-8741
Contact Jacqueline P. Ott

Current Research

My research focuses on grassland ecology, especially the vegetative reproduction of perennial grasses via the belowground bud bank. My current research includes examining the effects of fire and drought on bud production and outgrowth of dominant grasses and forbs in the Great Plains. I am also involved with writing an assessment on the potential ecological effects of oil and gas development for the Little Missouri National Grassland in North Dakota and calibrating PhenoMap, which is a management tool designed to assess the phenology of the National Grasslands in the western United States.

Research Interests

In perennial grasslands, most aboveground stem recruitment comes from belowground buds. For example, >99% of stems in tallgrass prairie originate from belowground buds rather than seeds. Therefore, the response of perennial grassland vegetation to drivers, such as grazing, fire, and climate, is mediated by the bud bank. Despite the fundamental importance of bud banks in grassland dynamics worldwide, there is minimal knowledge of basic bud bank population dynamics and structure, comparisons between native and invasive species, and bud bank responses to disturbance. I seek to increase our basic understanding of belowground bud banks in perennial grasslands in an effort to increase our mechanistic understanding of grassland response to fire, grazing, climate change, invasion by exotic perennial grasses, and nutrient enrichment.

Past Research

My past research has included: 1) determining the bud bank and tiller dynamics of multiple perennial grass species in mixed-grass and tallgrass prairie, 2) evaluating the impact of flowering on vegetative bud production in Andropogon gerardii, 3) assessing bud production and root characteristics of dominant grass species in the savannas of southern Africa, and 4) determining the herbivory response of the African savanna tree Colophospermum mopane at the juvenile stage.

Why This Research is Important

Bud bank research is vital to understanding grassland resistance and resiliency to drivers, such as grazing, fire, and climate. Because most stems in perennial grasslands come from buds, fundamental bud bank knowledge can provide insight into changes in annual net primary production, differences between C3 and C4 grass abundance, and spatial distribution of populations within a community. Managing for the bud bank can help focus our management practices to better promote grassland resiliency and enhance grassland restoration techniques by including both buds and seeds.


  • 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
  • Awards

    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


    Klimesova, Jitka; Martínkova, Jana; Pausas, Juli G.; de Moraes, Moemy Gomes; Herben, Tomas; Yu, Fei-Hai; Puntieri, Javier; Vesk, Peter A.; de Bello, Francesco; Janecek, Stepan; Altman, Jan; Appezzato-da-Gloria, Beatriz; Bartuskova, Alena; Crivellaro, Alan; Dolezal, Jiri; Ott, Jacqueline P.; Paula, Susana; Schnablova, Renata; Schweingruber, Fritz H.; Ottaviani, Gianluigi, 2019. Handbook of standardized protocols for collecting plant modularity traits
    Ott, Jacqueline P.; Klimesova, Jitka; Hartnett, David C., 2019. The ecology and significance of below-ground bud banks in plants
    Butler, Jack L.; Ott, Jacqueline P.; Hartway, Cynthia R.; Dickerson, Brian E., 2018. Biological assessment of oil and gas development on the Little Missouri National Grassland
    Ott, Jacqueline P.; Butler, Jack L.; Rong, Yuping; Xu, Lan., 2017. Greater bud outgrowth of Bromus inermis than Pascopyrum smithii under multiple environmental conditions
    Finch, Deborah M.; Pendleton, Rosemary L.; Reeves, Matt C.; Ott, Jeffrey E.; Kilkenny, Francis F.; Butler, Jack L.; Ott, Jacqueline P.; Pinto, Jeremiah R.; Ford, Paulette L.; Runyon, Justin B.; Rumble, Mark A.; Kitchen, Stanley G., 2016. Rangeland drought: Effects, restoration, and adaptation [Chap. 8]
    Historical and projected energy consumption for the United States according to energy source (EIA 2018).
    Major United States energy sources - fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas), biofuels (ethanol), and wind - are concentrated in grassland ecosystems of the Great Plains. We aim to provide syntheses of potential ecological effects of energy development and production on grassland systems and identify opportunities to mitigate these effects during the planning, construction, and production phases by using informed methodology and improved technology. 
    RMRS scientists and university collaborators collect buds from the Buffalo Gap National Grassland for a growth chamber experiment.
    Scientists found that the invasive smooth brome out-performed the native western wheatgrass under a variety of temperature and moisture conditions. Their results help understand the competitive ability of smooth brome and have important implications for predicting vegetation dynamics under climate change.
    Belowground plant structures support aboveground regeneration in ecosystems around the world.  More research is needed to document and understand the anatomy, physiology, demography and ecological role of belowground plant organs.  By working with a global network of scientists we aim to provide research, syntheses and protocols on belowground plant traits.
    With increasing temperatures due to climate change and the inherent interannual variability in precipitation of most grasslands, droughts will likely increase in frequency and intensity across the Great Plains. Precipitation legacies from previous years can impact current year productivity in arid grasslands by shifting tiller and bud bank densities of the dominant grasses. Belowground bud survival during drought and the ability of buds to break dormancy following drought are key to maintaining a resilient grassland in both arid and mesic grasslands.
    Post-fire resiliency of plant communities in northern mixed-grass prairie and eastern sagebrush steppe depends largely on plant regeneration from aboveground and belowground buds. Canopy and stem regeneration occurs more quickly via the bud bank than via seedling recruitment. To better predict plant community responses to fire, we need an enhanced understanding of the immediate and long-term bud responses of key forb, grass, and shrub species to fire.