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Welcome to the grassland ecology and resilience lab!

Our goal is to better understand how plant communities respond to changing climate and land management, with an emphasis on fire. We are particularly interested in resilience, which is a system's ability to maintain its identity, functions, and feedbacks, despite changes in disturbances and other environmental drivers. Our work is rooted in tallgrass prairie of the central Great Plains, but often includes cross-site syntheses. As a group, we use the full suite of approaches in modern science: observational studies, experimental manipulations, theoretical models, and next-generation simulation models.

Research in the lab aims to address both pressing conservation issues and advancing ecological theory.  Some of the questions we are working on are:

-  What types of climate extremes are more likely to exceed ecological resilience?

-  Do ecosystems have tipping points, where small changes in management, like fire or grazing, have large ecological consequences?

-  And can we identify climate and management tipping points before we cross them?

-  How does the reintroduction of extirpated animals and disturbances (e.g. fire) affect the resilience to projected changes in climate?


Zak Ratajczak

Email: zarata at

Post: 116 Ackert Hall, Manhattan, KS 66506-4901 USA

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