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Jeffrey E. Ott


Research Biologist

322 E. Front Street Suite 401
Boise, ID 83702-7373
Contact Jeffrey E. Ott

Current Research

I study effects of fire and invasive species on plant communities, post-fire seeding techniques, and ecological genetics of native plants, primarily in semi-arid ecosystems of the Intermountain West. My research includes studies aimed at understanding how climate and other environmental factors influence plant distributions across landscapes and regions.

Research Interests

My research interests include several areas of basic and applied ecology, including disturbance ecology, restoration ecology, invasive species management, ecological genetics, vegetation description & analysis, and floristic biogeography.


  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Ph.D., Biology, 2010
  • Brigham Young University, M.S., Botany, 2001
  • Brigham Young University, B.S., Conservation Biology, 1998
  • Featured Publications


    Ott, Jeffrey E.; Kilkenny, Francis F.; Summers, Daniel D.; Thompson, Tyler W., 2019. Long-term vegetation recovery and invasive annual suppression in native and introduced postfire seeding treatments
    Baughman, Owen W.; Agneray, Alison C.; Forister, Matthew L.; Kilkenny, Francis F.; Espeland, Erin K.; Fiegener, Rob; Horning, Matthew E.; Johnson, Richard C.; Kaye, Thomas N.; Ott, Jeffrey E.; St. Clair, John Bradley; Leger, Elizabeth A., 2019. Strong patterns of intraspecific variation and local adaptation in Great Basin plants revealed through a review of 75 years of experiments
    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]
    Ott, Jeffrey E.; McArthur, E. Durant; Sanderson, Stewart, 2011. Vegetation dynamics at a Mojave Desert restoration site, 1992 to 2007
    Sanderson, Stewart; Ott, Jeffrey E.; McArthur, E. Durant; Harper, Kimball T., 2006. RCLUS, a new program for clustering associated species: A demonstration using a Mojave Desert plant community dataset
    Ott, Jeffrey E.; McArthur, E. Durant; Roundy, Bruce A., 2003. Vegetation of chained and non-chained seedings after wildfire in Utah
    Background This study shows that postfire seeding can have lasting effects on successional patterns in Great Basin plant communities. While the abundance and dominance of particular species are likely to change over time, the initial seed-mix can have a strong influence on later plant community composition. This emphasizes the importance of designing seed mixes that take into account probable long-term successional trajectories and of implementing long-term monitoring of postfire seedings whenever possible. Studies like this one can help in predicting future succession in postfire seedings.
    Rangeland drills to re-establish native plants
    Sagebrush ecosystems of the Great Basin are rapidly being converted to annual grasslands dominated by invasive weeds such as cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum L.) which thrives following wildfire and competes with native plants. Restoring diverse plant communities containing perennial grasses, shrubs and forbs is an important priority in this region. Scientists in Boise have partnered with public and private agencies to evaluate the effectiveness of seeding techniques designed to re-establish native plants following fire.
    There is widespread interest in understanding the effectiveness of fuel treatments in mitigating the trajectory of wildfire suppression costs and how their effectiveness and longevity can be extended over large areas and landscapes. To date, there have been several studies that used a modeling approach to evaluate fuel treatment effectiveness at the landscape scale. However, empirical studies at this scale are rare because landscape-scale fuel treatment strategies have not been fully implemented or wildfires have not burned through implemented landscape fuel treatments. A thorough evaluation of what is currently available in the literature and lessons learned from forest and rangeland managers has not yet been conducted.
    RMRS scientists have teamed up with managers and researchers at Bridger-Teton National Forest and Colorado State University to compare herbicide treatments to reduce cheatgrass seedlings, allowing restoration of Native Sagebrush Grassland Plant Communities. ​
    Previous research funded by the Great Basin Native Plant Project found that bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata) populations differed in traits important for adaptation to precipitation and temperature (St. Clair et al. 2013). Forest Service scientists hypothesize that in the long-term, populations from local seed zones will better establish, survive, and reproduce than those from non-local seed zones. This study examines the efficacy of seed zones for bluebunch wheatgrass to ensure successful establishment and allow for long-term adaptation by maintaining genetic diversity.