Dr. Jonathan Coop

Dr. Jonathan Coop
Assistant Professor in Biology and Environment & Sustainability
B.A., Biology, University of California–Santa Cruz, 1995
Ph.D., Botany, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 2005
(970) 943-2565
Office Location: 
Kelly Hall 105
Environment & Sustainability Department
Master in Environmental Management Department
Natural & Environmental Sciences Department
Academic Program: 
Pre-medicine, Cell & Molecular Biology
Environment & Sustainability
Environmental Biology & Ecology
Environmental Science (Minor)
Master in Environmental Management (MEM)
MEM Integrative Land Management Track
Pre-Nursing, Pre-Allied Health
Wildlife Biology

View Dr. Coop's Curriculum Vitae.

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 to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by >50%.

Courses Taught

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.

Recent Publications

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.

Coop, J.D. and A.W. Schoettle.  2009. Post-wildfire regeneration of Rocky Mountain bristlecone (Pinus aristata) and limber pine (Pinus flexilis). Forest Ecology & Management 257: 893-903.

Coop, J.D. and T.J. Givnish.  2008.  Constraints on tree seedling establishment in montane grasslands of the Valles Caldera, New Mexico.  Ecology 89: 1101-1111.

Coop, J.D. and T.J. Givnish.  2007.  Spatial and temporal patterns of recent forest encroachment in montane grasslands of the Valles Caldera, New Mexico, U.S.A.  Journal of Biogeography  34: 914-927.

Coop, J.D. and T.J. Givnish.  2007.  Gradient analysis of reversed treelines and grasslands of the Valles Caldera, Jemez Mountains, New Mexico.  Journal of Vegetation Science 18: 43-54.

Coop, J.D., C.D. Hibner, A.J. Miller, and G.H. Clark.  2005.  Black bears forage on army cutworm moth aggregations in the Jemez Mountains, New Mexico. The Southwestern Naturalist 50: 278-281.

Other Media

"Can We Grow Now?" (article about our research on Rocky Mountain bristlecone pine regeneration for middle-school science students)  Natural Inquirer Wildland Fire Edition.  2010 

Montane Grasslands of the Valles Caldera.  ESA Bulletin Photo Gallery.  April 2008. 

NASA Telemark Satellite Image of the Day: outer space viewed from the earth

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