Teaching and Research Interests
My teaching and research interests revolve around the ecology, conservation, and restoration of plant communities and landscapes in the southern Rocky Mountains. I teach introductory and advanced courses in biology and environmental studies and lead many field trips to wild places near and far. Research themes include how disturbance regimes, climate, and spatially-structured abiotic gradients interact to shape diversity, community composition, and landscape dynamics; human influences on ecological systems; and management for a future of certain change but of an uncertain direction and magnitude. Some recent and upcoming projects (most of which involve Western students through both class projects and our Thornton Undergraduate Research Program) include:
- a range-wide assessment of Rocky Mountain bristlecone pine stand conditions and health,
- tracking historic changes in aspen forests around Crested Butte (read our 2014 paper in Forest Ecology & Management here),
- restoration of streambanks in the Valles Caldera National Preserve,
- measuring the ecological effects of fuel reduction treatments in piñon-juniper woodlands,
- understanding and predicting responses of forest landscapes to shifting fire regimes in both the southwest and the northern Rockies, and
- assessing the dynamics of sagebrush steppe plant communities in the Gunnison Basin (short update here).
As an ecologist and just a guy likes to float a river with my family every now and then, I am deeply concerned about humanity's increasingly damaging impacts upon the biosphere. Quite a bit of my energy these days goes into practical strategies for building sustainable and resilient human and ecological communities within the microcosms of Western State Colorado University and Gunnison County. With ENVS students, we have developed a working sustainability plan for Western State Colorado University. Some notable recent achievements include a campus bicycle library, gardens and greenhouses in which students grow food for campus dining services, and a renewable energy fund that is allowing Western
reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by >50%.
Applied Environmental Studies, Ecology, Environmental Biology, Environmental Biology Lab, Environmental Monitoring, Forest Ecology, Natural History of the Gunnison Basin, Rocky Mountain Flora, Rocky Mountain Natural History, Science of Sustainability and Resilience, Watersheds of the World, and senior seminars in Biogeography, Ethnobotany, Fire Ecology, Forest Dynamics, and Landscape Ecology.
Coop, J.D., Barker, K.J., Knight, A.D., and J.S. Pecharich. 2014. Aspen (Populus tremuloides) stand dynamics and understory plant community changes over 46 years near Crested Butte, Colorado, USA. Forest Ecology and Management 318: 1-12. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2014.01.019
Coop, J.D. and A.W. Schoettle. 2011. Fire and high-elevation, five-needle pine (Pinus aristata and P. flexilis) ecosystems in the southern Rocky Mountains: what do we know? In: Keane, R.E.; Tomback, D.F.; Murray, M.P.; and Smith, C. M., eds. 2011. The future of high-elevation, five-needle white pines in Western North America: Proceedings of the High Five Symposium. 28-30 June 2010; Missoula, MT. Proceedings RMRS-P-63. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station.
Coop, J.D., Massatti, R.T., and A.W. Schoettle. 2010. Subalpine vegetation pattern three decades after stand-replacing fire: effects of landscape context and topography on plant community composition, tree regeneration, and diversity. Journal of Vegetation Science 21: 472-487.