Illinois State alum Jonathan Bauer, M.S. ’07, currently a postdoctoral researcher at Indiana University, will be giving a presentation on his research. His presentation, “Plant-Microbial Interactions in Secondary Succession and Their Application to Ecological Restoration” will be held at 4 p.m. Thursday September 17, in 210 Moulton Hall.


Plant interactions with soil microbial communities are essential to plant species coexistence and the maintenance of ecosystem function. Given the importance of these interactions, there have been several calls to better incorporate soil microbial communities into the practice of ecological restoration. Beyond their potential to increase diversity and function in restored ecosystems, it is also possible that plant-microbial interactions act as drivers of secondary succession. If so, understanding these interactions will allow us to better predict the successional trajectories of restored ecosystems and to develop innovations in restoration practice that will accelerate the recovery of disturbed ecosystems.

My work in the tallgrass prairie has shown that plant-microbial interactions are an important component of the life-history trade-offs underlying shifts in species abundance with succession. Further, between site variations in the composition of soil microbial communities can have important effects on the composition of plant communities. These results suggest that plant-microbe interactions can be incorporated into ecological restoration to improve restoration outcomes, and preliminary results from experimental restorations indicate better establishment of late-successional plant species when inoculated with appropriate microbial mutualists.