Jonathan Knott

Jonathan Knott Profile Picture
Home Department:
Forestry & Natural Resources

Mentor / Lab:
Dr. Songlin Fei, Natural Resources Spatial Analysis Lab

Specific Research Area / Project:
Species to community level responses to climate change in eastern US forests

Undergraduate Institution:
Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI
Lab / Personal work-related websites:
Lab Website


Research Profile:

Forests across the US are facing major threats including expanding urban development, invasive species, and climate change. In particular, climate change alters forests across spatial scales, from local-scale processes such as photosynthesis and population dynamics, to larger regional-, national-, and global-scale changes such as shifts in communities (groups of species that commonly co-occur). While the impacts of climate change on forests have been studied in a variety of ways across many of these scales, I am focusing on two main impacts of climate change: (1) at the population- and species-level, how climate change impacts phenology (the timing of biological events such as leaf growth in the spring and leaf coloration in the fall) in northern red oak trees; and (2) at the community-level, how climate change impacts the geographic distribution of forest communities.

Although patterns in phenology and community composition have been studied for the last century, new analytical techniques developed over the last decade and the availability of large datasets have allowed me to study these systems through a new data-driven viewpoint of ecology. Even with these new statistical models, at the timescale of my projects (years to decades, shorter than the lifespan of most trees) the resulting changes in phenology and community composition are often quite small. However, even small changes can serve as a warning sign of impending threats to our valuable forest ecosystems.

Jonathan Knott Research Picture

About Me:

I grew up in West Michigan, an area rich in forests, lakes, and opportunities for exploring nature. For as long as I can remember, my family would go camping, hunting, fishing, canoeing, and other outdoor activities. I always thought it would be exciting to work in the great outdoors, but I also had interests in science and cooking. Luckily, I decided against culinary school and ended up in a general biology program at Calvin College, where I pursued the pre-med program. After a few long talks with my undergrad advisors and a summer research project measuring and analyzing changes in the forest at Calvin’s nature preserve, I decided med school was not for me and that graduate school in forest ecology would be quite interesting. Additionally, that summer trudging through swampy, mosquito-infested, 90°F forest plots made me realize that there is a lot more to forests besides just the few acres of land that I was working on.

I stumbled across the Ecological Sciences and Engineering (ESE) webpage during my search for graduate schools, and after reading the description of the program it rose to the top of my list. Through ESE I was able to connect with my now advisor, Dr. Songlin Fei, and he had some interesting projects for me to work on if I joined his lab. The focus of his lab is to analyze large-scale patterns of forest dynamics, including climate change, invasive species, biodiversity, and others. This fit exactly what I was looking for—a much broader view of what was going on beyond what you can see when you’re walking through the woods, to quite literally “see the forest for the trees.” As for outdoor activities and cooking, I still spend my free time fishing in the Wildcat Creek, hiking at various parks, and cooking food for friends and family.

Awards:

  • Fischer Forestry Fund Graduate Scholarship (Department of Forestry and Natural Resources graduate scholarship), Spring 2018
  • US Regional Association of the International Association for Landscape Ecology (US-IALE) Student Travel Award, Spring 2018
  • Charles H. Michler Scholarship for Outstanding Graduate Student Researcher in Forest Biology (Department of Forestry and Natural Resources graduate scholarship), Spring 2017
  • Purdue Climate Change Research Center (PCCRC) Student Travel Award, Spring 2016

Publications:

  • McCallen E*, Knott J*, Nunez-mir G, Taylor B, Jo I, Fei S. (In press). Trends in Ecology: Shifts of ecological research themes in the last four decades. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment *Co-first authorship
  • Buteyn N, Oh YI, Knott J, Stephens P, Konyndyk J, Tenney J, Wilstermann A, Fynewever H, Koetje D. (In press). Exploring Nutraceuticals to Enhance Scientific Literacy: Aligning with Vision and Change. The American Biology Teacher
  • Guo Q, Fei S, Shen Z, Iannone BV III, Knott J, Chown SL. (2018). A global analysis of elevational distribution of non-native versus native plants. Journal of Biogeography. 45:793–803.
  • Fei S, Desprez JM, Potter KM, Jo I, Knott J, Oswalt CM. (2017). Divergence of species responses to climate change. Science advances, 3(5), e1603055.

Presentations:

  • Central Hardwood Forest Conference, Bloomington, IN (May 2018). Oral Presentation. “Assessing Impacts of Climate Change on Phenology in a Common Garden.” Co-authors: Benjamin Taylor and Songlin Fei
  • Forestry and Natural Resources Research Symposium, Purdue University (Apr 2018). Poster Session (Honorable Mention). “Assessing Impacts of Climate Change on Phenology Using a Common Garden Study.” Co-authors: Songlin Fei, Benjamin Taylor
  • US Regional Association of the International Association for Landscape Ecology (US-IALE) Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL (Apr 2018). Oral Presentation. “Red oak phenology in a common garden.” Co-authors: Benjamin Taylor, Songlin Fei
  • Biology Department Seminar Series, Calvin College (Mar 2018). Invited Speaker. “Species and community responses to climate change in eastern US forests.”
  • Quantitative Ecology Group meeting, Purdue University (Jan 2018). Oral Presentation. “Decomposing forest communities using a topic modelling approach”
  • Purdue GIS Day, Purdue University (Nov 2017). Poster Session (1st Place). “Assessing Impacts of Climate Change on Phenology Using a Common Garden Study.” Co-authors: Songlin Fei
  • Ecological Sciences and Engineering Annual Symposium, Purdue University (Sep 2017). 3 Minute Thesis competition (People’s Choice Award). “Assessing impacts of climate change on forest communities”
  • Office of Interdisciplinary Graduate Programs Spring Reception, Purdue University (May 2017). Poster Session. “What’s Trending in Ecology? An Automated Content Analysis of the Top Concepts in Ecology.” Co-authors: Gabriela Nunez-mir, Emily McCallen, Insu Jo, Benjamin Taylor, Songlin Fei, Luciano Pataro
  • International Biogeography Society Meeting, Tucson, AZ (Jan 2017). Poster Session. “Assessing Impacts of Climate Change on Phenology Using a Common Garden Study.” Co-authors: Songlin Fei
  • Ecological Sciences and Engineering Annual Symposium, Purdue University (Sep 2016). 3 Minute Thesis competition (1st Place), “Assessing the Impacts of Climate Change on Red Oak Phenology.”
  • Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting, Ft. Lauderdale, FL (Aug 2016). Poster Session. “Assessing Impacts of Climate Change on Phenology Using a Common Garden Study.” Co-authors: Songlin Fei
  • Office of Interdisciplinary Graduate Programs Spring Reception, Purdue University (May 2016). Poster Session. “Assessing Human Health in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil Using the World Urban Database (WUDAPT) Framework.” Co-authors: Janelle Cronin, Renee Obringer, Leah Sandler, Rachel Scarlett

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