Dr. Sara Baer

Sara Baer
  • Professor, Senior Scientist
  • Director, Kansas Biological Survey
  • Research Interests: Plant, Soil, Ecosystem, and Restoration Ecology

Contact Info

Higuchi Hall, room #108B


Dr. Baer is considered an expert in grassland, soil and restoration ecology.  The Baer-lab studies above and belowground changes in structure (species and functional composition of plants and microbes) and function (primary productivity, nutrient cycling, and carbon sequestration) during ecological restoration in response to environmental heterogeneity, interannual variability in climate, and intraspecific variation in population sources of dominant species. Much of our research has focused on agroecosystems restored to tallgrass prairie. 

Selected Publications

  • Wojciechowski, A., J. M. Blair, S. L. Collins and S. G. Baer. In press. Heterogeneity promotes resilience in restored prairie: implications for the ‘environmental heterogeneity hypothesis’. Ecological Applications
  • Ren, Z., D. J. Gibson, S. G. Baer, L. C. Johnson, L. R. Wilson, and M. B. Galliart. 2023. The role of dominant prairie species ecotypes in plant diversity patterns of restored grasslands across a rainfall gradient in the US Great Plains. Applied Vegetation Science 26:e12725
  • Eckhoff, K., D. Scott, G. Manning, and S. G. Baer. 2023. Persistent decadal differences in plant communities assembled under contrasting climate conditions. Ecological Applications 10.1002/eap.2823.
  • Yu, K. L., J. van den Hoogen, Z. Q. Wang, C. Averill, D. Routh, G. R. Smith, R. E. Drenovsky, K. M. Scow, F. Mo, M. P. Waldrop, Y. H. Yang, W. Z. Tang, F. T. De Vries, R. D. Bardgett, P. Manning, F. Bastida, S. G. Baer, E. M. Bach, C. Garcia, Q. K. Wang, L. N. Ma, B. D. Chen, X. J. He, S. Teurlincx, A. Heijboer, J. A. Bradley, and T. W. Crowther. 2022. The biogeography of relative abundance of soil fungi versus bacteria in surface topsoil. Earth System Science Data 14:4339-4350. DOI10.5194/essd-14-4339-2022
  • Sarkar, S., A. Kamke, K. Ward, A. K. Rudick, S. G. Baer, Q. Ran, B. Feehan, S. Thapa, L. Anderson, M. Galliart, A. Jumpponen, L. Johnson, and S. T. M. Lee. 2022.  Bacterial but not fungal rhizosphere communities community composition differ among perennial grass ecotypes under abiotic environmental stress. Microbiome Spectrum 10 (DOI: 10.1128/spectrum.02391-21)
  • Johnson, L. C., M. B. Galliart, J. D. Alsdurf, B. R. Maricle, S. G. Baer, N. M. Bello, D. J. Gibson, and A. B. Smith. 2022. Reciprocal transplant gardens as gold standard to detect local adaptation in grassland species: New opportunities moving into the 21st century. Journal of Ecology 110:1054-1071. 
  • Harms, T. K., Groffman, P. M., L. Aluwihare, C. Craft, W. R. Wieder, S. E. Hobbie, S. G. Baer, J. M. Blair, S. Frey, C. K. Remucal, J. A. Rudgers, S. L. Collins, & LTER OM Working Group. 2022. Patterns and trends of organic matter processing and transport: Insights from the US Long-Term Ecological Research network. 2021.Climate Change Ecology 2 (2021) 100025 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecochg.2021.100025
  • Avolio, M. L., K. J. Komatsu, S. L. Collins, E. Grman, S. E.  Koerner, A. T. Tredennick, K. R. Wilcox, S. Baer, E. H. Boughton, A. Britton, B. Foster, L. Gough, M. Hovenden, F. Isbell, A. Jentsch, D. S. Johnson, A. K. Knapp, J. Kreyling, A. Langley, C. Lortie, R. McCulley, J. R. McLaren, P. B. Reich, E. Seabloom, M. D. Smith, K. N. Suding, K. B. Suttle, P. Tognetti. 2021.Determinants of community compositional change are equally affected by global change. Ecology Letters 021;00:1–13.
  • Zinnert, J., J. Nippert, J. Rudgers, S. Pennings, G. Gonzalez, M. Alber, S. G. Baer, J. M. Blair, A. Burd, S. L. Collins, C. Craft, D. Di Iorio, W. K. Dodds, P. Groffman, E. Herbert, C. Hladik, F. Li, M. Litvak, S. Newsome, J. O'Donnell, W. Pockman, J. Schalles, D. Young. 2021. State changes: insights from the U.S. Long Term Ecological Research Network. Ecosphere 12  Issue: 5  DOI:10.1002/ecs2.3433 Ecosphere Highly Cited Paper
  • Scott, D. A., E. M. Bach, C. C. Du Preez, J. Six and S. G. Baer. 2021. Mechanisms influencing physically sequestered soil carbon in temperate restored grasslands in South Africa and North America. Biogeochemistry 156: 131-153. doi.org/10.1007/s10533-021-00774-y
  • Pittinger, M. S., K. L. Maricle, S. G. Baer, L. C. Johnson, B. R. Maricle. 2020. No difference in herbivory preferences among ecotypes of big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii). Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 123: 151-164 doi.org/10.1660/062.123.0112
  • Wieder, W. R., D. Pierson, S. R. Earl, K. Lajtha, S. Baer, F. Ballantyne, A. A. Berhe, S. Billings, L. M. Brigham, S. S. Chacon, J. Fraterrigo, S. D. Frey, K. Georgiou, M. de Graaff, A. S. Grandy, M. D. Hartman, S. E. Hobbie, C. Johnson, J. Kaye, E. Snowman, M. E. Litvak, M. C. Mack, A. Malhotra, J. A. M. Moore, K. Nadelhoffer, C. Rasmussen, W. L. Silver, B. N. Sulman, X. Walker, and S. Weintraub. 2020a. SoDaH: the SOils DAta Harmonization database, an open-source synthesis of soil data from research networks, version 1.0. Earth System Science Data doi:10.5194/essd-2020-195.
  • Wieder, W. R., D. Pierson, S. R. Earl, K. Lajtha, S. Baer, F. Ballantyne, A. A. Berhe, S. Billings, L. M. Brigham, S. S. Chacon, J. Fraterrigo, S. D. Frey, K. Georgiou, M. de Graaff, A. S. Grandy, M. D. Hartman, S. E. Hobbie, C. Johnson, J. Kaye, E. Snowman, M. E. Litvak, M. C. Mack, A. Malhotra, J. A. M. Moore, K. Nadelhoffer, C. Rasmussen, W. L. Silver, B. N. Sulman, X. Walker, and S. Weintraub. 2020b. SOils DAta Harmonization database (SoDaH): an open-source synthesis of soil data from research networks ver 1. Environmental Data Initiative doi:10.6073/pasta/9733f6b6d2ffd12bf126dc36a763e0b4 (Accessed 2020-07-16).
  • Galliart, M., S. Sabates, H. Tetreault, A. DeLaCruz, J. Bryant, Johnny; J. Alsdurf, M. Knapp, N. Bello, S. G. Baer, B. Maricle, D. Gibson, J. Poland, P. St. Amand, N. Unruh, O. Parrish, and L. Johnson, Loretta. 2020. Adaptive genetic potential and plasticity of trait variation in the foundation prairie grass Andropogon gerardii across the US Great Plains’ climate gradient: Implications for climate change and restoration. Evolutionary Applications.
  • Avolio, M. L., K. R. Wilcox, K. J. Komatsu, N. Lemoine, W. D. Bowman, S. L. Collins, A. Knapp, S. E. Koerner, M. D. Smith, S. G. Baer, K. L. Gross, F. Isbell, J. McLaren, P. B. Reich, K. N. Suding, K. B. Suttle, D. Tilman, Z. Xu, and Q. Yu. 2020. Temporal variability in production is not consistently affected by global change drivers across herbaceous-dominated ecosystems. Oecologia 194(4), 735-744
  • Scott, D. A., K. D. Eckhoff, and S. G. Baer. 2020 Plant diversity decreases potential nitrous oxide emissions from restored agricultural soil. Pedobiologia (Journal of Soil Ecology) Art. No. 150670.
  • Baer, S. G., T. J. Adams, D. A. Scott, J. M. Blair, and S. L. Collins. 2020. Soil heterogeneity increases plant diversity after twenty years of manipulation during grassland restoration. Ecological Applications 30(1), 2020, e02014
  • Baer, S. G., Gibson, D.J., and Johnson, L.C.. 2019. Restoring grassland in the context of climate change. Pp. 310-322.   In: Gibson, D.J. and Newman, J., (eds). Grasslands and Climate Change Oxford University Press.
  • Scott, D. A., Rosenzweig, S. T., Baer, S. G., and Blair, J. M. 2019. Changes in Potential Nitrous Oxide Efflux during Grassland Restoration. Journal of Environmental Quality 48(6): 1913-1917. doi:10.2134/jeq2019.05.0187
  • Warne, R. W., Baer, S. G., and Boyles, J. G. 2019. Community Physiological Ecology. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 34(6): 510-518. doi:10.1016/j.tree.2019.02.002
  • Scott, D. A., and Baer, S. G. 2019. Diversity patterns from sequentially restored grasslands support the 'environmental heterogeneity hypothesis'. Oikos 128(8): 1116-1122. doi:10.1111/oik.05877
  • Khalil, M. I., Gibson, D. J., and Baer, S. G. 2019. Functional response of subordinate species to intraspecific trait variability within dominant species. Journal of Ecology 107(5): 2040-2053. doi:10.1111/1365-2745.13249
  • Komatsu, K. J., Avolio, M. L., Lemoine, N. P., Isbell, F., Grman, E., Houseman, G. R., Koerner, S. E., Johnson, D. S., Wilcox, K. R., Alatalo, J. M., Anderson, J. P., Aerts, R., Baer, S. G., Baldwin, A. H., Bates, J., Beierkuhnlein, C., Beloter, R. T., Blair, J., Bloor, J. M. G., Bohlen, P. J., Bork, E. W., Boughton, E. H., Bowman, W. D., Britton, A. J., Cahill, J. F., Jr., Chaneton, E., Chiariello, N. R., Cheng, J., Collins, S. L., Cornelissen, J. H. C., Du, G., Eskelinen, A., Firn, J., Foster, B., Gough, L., Gross, K., Hallett, L. M., Han, X., Harmens, H., Hovenden, M. J., Jagerbrand, A., Jentsch, A., Kern, C., Klanderud, K., Knapp, A. K., Kreyling, J., Li, W., Luo, Y., McCulley, R. L., McLaren, J. R., Megonigal, J. P., Morgan, J. W., Onipchenko, V., Pennings, S. C., Prevey, J. S., Price, J. N., Reich, P. B., Robinson, C. H., Russell, F. L., Sala, O. E., Seabloom, E. W., Smith, M. D., Soudzilovskaia, N. A., Souza, L., Suding, K., Suttle, K. B., Svejcar, T., Tilman, D., Tognetti, P., Turkington, R., White, S., Xu, Z., Yahdjian, L., Yu, Q., Zhang, P., and Zhang, Y. 2019. Global change effects on plant communities are magnified by time and the number of global change factors imposed. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 116(36): 17867-17873. doi:10.1073/pnas.1819027116
  • Willand, J. E., and Baer, S. G. 2019. Resource Availability and the Potential for Bison Introduction in a Landscape Mosaic. American Midland Naturalist 181(2): 195-206. doi:10.1674/0003-0031-181.2.195
  • Smith, A. B., J. Alsdurf, M. Knapp, S. G. Baer, and L. C. Johnson. 2017. Phenotypic distribution models corroborate species distribution models: A shift in the role and prevalence of a dominant prairie grass in response to climate change. Submitted to Global Change Biology 23(10): 4365-4375.
  • Klopf, R. P., S. G. Baer, E. M. Bach, and J. Six. 2017. Restoration and management for high plant diversity enhances belowground ecosystem recovery from disturbance. Ecological Applications Communications 27(2): 355-362.
  • Walia, M. K., S. G. Baer, and R. L. Cook. 2017. Deep soil carbon after 44 years of tillage and fertilizer management in southern Illinois compared to forest and restored prairie soils. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 72(4): 405-415.
  • Scott, D. A., S. G. Baer, and J. M. Blair. 2017. Recovery and relative influence of root, microbial, and structural properties of soil on physically sequestered carbon stocks in restored grassland. Soil Science Society of America Journal Online: doi:10.2136/sssaj2016.05.0158
  • Gibson, D. J, J. M. Donatelli, A. AbuGhazaleh, S. G. Baer, and L. C. Johnson. 2016. Ecotypic variation in forage nutrient value of a dominant prairie grass across a precipitation gradient. Grassland Science 62: 233–242.
  • Baer, S. G. 2016. Nutrients as determinants and endpoints in ecological restoration. Pages 333-364. In M. A. Palmer, J. Zedler, and D. Falk (editors). Foundations of Restoration Ecology, 2nd edition. Island Press: Washington D.C.
  • Khalil, M. I., D. J. Gibson, and S. G. Baer. 2016. Population source of dominant species differentially affect community phylogenetic structure in a grassland restoration. Journal of Applied Ecology Published online doi: 10.1111/1365-2664.12743
  • Birgé, H. E., R. A Bevansa , D. G. Angelerb , C. R. Allen, S. G. Baer, and D. H. Wall. 2016. Adaptive management for soil ecosystem services. Journal of Environmental Management 183: 371-378.
  • Weathers, K. C., P. M. Groffman P. M., E. Van Dolah, E. Bernhardt, N. Grimm, K. McMahon, J. Schimel, M. Paolisso, R. Maranger, S. Baer, K. Brauman, and E. Hinkley. 2016. Frontiers in ecosystem ecology from an interdisciplinary perspective: the future is boundless and bright. Ecosystems 19: 753-770.
  • Wilson, L. D. J. Gibson, S. G. Baer, L. C. Johnson. 2016. Plant community response to regional sources of dominant grasses in grasslands restored across a longitudinal gradient. Ecosphere Volume 7(4) Article e01329
  • Baer, S. G., J. M. Blair, and S. L. Collins. 2016. Environmental heterogeneity has a weak effect on diversity during community assembly in tallgrass prairie. Ecological Monographs 86: 94-106.
  • Rosenzweig, S., M. Carson, S. G. Baer, and J. M. Blair. 2016. Changes in soil properties, microbial biomass, and fluxes of C and N in soil following post-agricultural grassland restoration. Journal of Applied Soil Ecology 100:186–194.
  • Johnson, L., J. Olsen, H. Tetreault, N. M. Bello, A. de LaCruz, A. Landau, J. Bryant, T. Morgan, M. Knapp, S. G. Baer, and B. R. Maricle. 2015. Intraspecific variation of a dominant grass and local adaptation in reciprocal garden communities along a US Great Plains’ precipitation gradient: Implications for grassland restoration with climate change. Evolutionary Applications 8:705-723.
  • Mendola, M. M., S. G. Baer, L. C. Johnson and B. R. Maricle. 2015. The role of ecotypic variation and the environment on biomass and nitrogen in a dominant prairie grass. Ecology 96:2433–2445.
  • Wodika, B. R. and S. G. Baer. 2015. If we build it will they colonize? A test of the field of dreams paradigm with soil macroinvertebrate communities. Applied Soil Ecology 91: 80-89.
  • Baer, S. G., E. M. Bach, C. K. Meyer, C. DuPreez, and J. Six. 2015. Restoration of cultivated soil in the Free State (South Africa) and comparison to Nebraska (United States) provides a global perspective of belowground ecosystem recovery in response to grassland restoration. Ecosystems 18: 390-403.
  • Willand, J. E., S. G. Baer, and D. J. Gibson. 2015. Propagule abundance and richness are equivalent or higher in communities restoredwith local ecotypes relative to cultivars of dominant species Journal of Vegetation Science 26: 421-430.