John Harrington

Position title: Professor Emeritus


Photograph of John Harrington outdoors

Research Interests: conservation, restoration ecology, natural resource management, urban landscape, prairies, green infrastructure


Retired in 2020, Prof Harrington taught and led research in conservation planning, ecological restoration and management, and urban ecology. Research targets Midwest prairie and savanna systems as well as changing vegetation patterns in urbanizing regions. My most recent efforts have focused on the use of browsers in the management of shrubs in oak savanna systems understanding fire’s role and the spatial distribution of prairie remnants. Within urban landscapes I have been studying the changes in tree canopy composition and means for enhancing green infrastructure, including greenroofs and food production.

Campus Affiliations included: Agroecology, Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, Gaylord Nelson Institute of Environmental Studies, RLA

Continuing Research Activities

Co-PI-Tallgrass Prairie and Oak Savanna Fire Science Consortium.

Integrated Livestock Grazing and Conservation: Managed goat grazing and interseeding in oak savanna and woodlands.


Restoration Ecology

On-going.  Spatial patterns and the changes in underlying heterogeneity of remnant prairies in Southern Wisconsin.

Howell, Evelyn A., John A. Harrington, and Stephen B. Glass. 2012. Introduction to Restoration Ecology. Island Press.

2013 – 2016.  McIntire-Stennis.  Managed Silvopasture in Wisconsin Farm Woodlots. Steve Ventura (PI) and John Harrington (Co-PI).

2001 – 2014.  Opportunities for Livestock Production and Conservation: Managed Goat and Cattle Grazing in Open Oak Systems.

2011-present. Joint Fire Science Program, USA.Gov. Eastern Tallgrass Prairie and Oak Savanna Fire Science Consortium. Co-PI. with Paul Zedler, Hannah Spaul, Paul Charland.

Sutton, R., J. Harrington, L. Skabelund, P. MacDonagh, R. Coffman and G. Koch. 2012. Prairie-based green roofs: literature, templates and analogs. Journal of Green Building 7:143-172. Doi:

Harrington, John A. and Emily Kathol. 2009. Responses of Shrub Midstory and Herbaceous Layers to Managed Grazing and Fire in a North American Savanna (Oak Woodland) and Prairie Landscape. Restoration Ecology. Vol. 17, No. 2, pp. 234–244.

Harrington, John and Amy Staffen. 2008. Mapping and Spatial Analysis of Prairie Remnants and Development of a GIS Model for Predicting Remnant Locations in Southwest Wisconsin.  Report to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and The Prairie Enthusiasts.

Harrington, John. 2008. Vegetation Patterns and Land Cover Change for the Cross Plains Ice Age National Scientific Reserve, 1937-2007. Ice Age National Scenic Trail Office, National Park Service. March 2008. 78 pp.

Wells, Ana, Nick Balster, Stephanie Ban Wychen and John Harrington. 2008. Differences in belowground heterogeneity between anthropogenic sediments and native soils inform restoration of a dewatered reservoir in southwestern Wisconsin. Restoration Ecology 16: 678-688.

2006-2007.  Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Mapping and Spatial Analysis of Prairie Remnants and Development of a GIS Model for Predicting Remnant Locations in Southwest Wisconsin. with Sarah Carter and Richard Henderson.

Egan, Dave and John Harrington, editors. 2006. The Conservation Legacy Lives On…Proceedings of the 19th North American Prairie Conference. Madison.

Harrington, John and Aaron Stephenson. 2005. Vegetation Survey and Analysis of the Wilkie/McNutt Properties, Ice Age National Scientific Reserve. National Park Service, Ice Age Trail Office, Madison, WI.

Ecological Design

2013 – 2014. SIRE (Sustainability Innovation in Research and Education). Water, Sustainability, and Green Infrastructure: A Model 21st Century Campus by 2025. LaGro, Jr., James (PI), William Likos, Steven Loheide II, John Harrington, Christina Remucal, Matthew Ginder-Vogel.

2013 – 2014. SIRE (Sustainability Innovation in Research and Education). Carbon Positive Approaches to Integrating Campuses and Nature. Harrington, John (PI), Christine Scott, and James LaGro.

Smith, Vincent and John Harrington. 2013. Community food production as food security. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development.

Sutton, R., J. Harrington, L. Skabelund, P. MacDonagh, R. Coffman and G. Koch. 2012. Prairie- based green roofs: literature, templates and analogs. Journal of Green Building 7:143-172. doi: http://


Courses Taught

  • Plants and Ecology in Design
  • Urban Ecology Design Seminar
  • Restoration Ecology
  • Vegetation Management of Natural Systems
  • Field Course: Wisconsin’s Native Plant Communities
  • Restoration Ecology Seminar (Fire Ecology of the Tallgrass Prairie and Oak Ecosystems; Ecology of the Tallgrass Prairie and Oak Savanna)
  • Cloud Forest Studio (Monteverde, Costa Rica)

Restoration Ecology

Present Students:

Nolden, Cherrie. Integrated goat production and conservation: ecological, economic, and social opportunities for farmers and land managers in Upper Midwest open oak systems; MS Agroecology

Weissgerber, Andrea. Factors in the Distribution and population change of White lady slipper (Cypripedium candidum) in Wisconsin, MS Landscape Architecture

Past Students:

Kao, Emily. 2017. Success and succession: vegetation response after the Condit Dam removal.

Faust, Marie. 2015. Pilot study: the pollination potential of wild growing Cypripedium candidum. Undergraduate research.

Kokkinos, Jason. 2014. The effects of initial seeding rate on the persistence of biodiversity and community composition in dry-mesic prairies over a 12-year period. MS Landscape Architecture

Baumann, Katherine. 2013. Rotational goat browsing as a restoration tool for reducing midstory shrub density in oak savanna. MS Landscape Architecture

Ela, Julia M. 2012.Opportunities for livestock grazing and conservation: managed goat browsing in midwestern oak openings. MS Landscape Architecture

Wells, Alexandra. 2009. A Predictive Model for Tallgrass Prairie Remnant Distribution in the Southwest Grasslands Area of Wisconsin, USA. MS Landscape Architecture.

Read, Carrie E. 2008.Spatial patterns and the underlying heterogeneity of remnant prairies in southern Wisconsin. MS Landscape Architecture.

Kearley, Ruth. 2007. A comparison of leafhopper, butterfly and skipper species richness on prairie restoration and remnants in south central Wisconsin. MS Land Resources.

Craig, Jill. 2006. A comparative study of the composition of plant communities along west-to-east and south-to-north gradients and across Coarse to regional scales within the tallgrass prairies of the Midwest. MS Landscape Architecture.

Martin, Amy. 2006. The ecological implications of varying seeding density in dry-mesic prairie restorations. MS Land Resources.

White, Annie Seeger. 2005. Favorability and avoidance of spatial landscape Components in wolf den site selection. MS Landscape Architecture

Cromer, Carolyn. 2003. The effects of Microstegium vimineum on species diversity and its interaction with light and plants. MS Land Resources.

Gettig, Roger. 2003. Response of linear prairie remnants to seven years of annual spring burning. MS Landscape Architecture

Kathol, Emily. 2003. The effectiveness of managed grazing and prescribed burning in restoring the structure and composition of a degraded Wisconsin oak savanna. MS Land Resources.

Stackpole, Sarah. 2003. The effects of prescribed burning and thinning on groundlayer vegetation in a dry-mesic and dry oak forest is southern Wisconsin. MS Land Resources.

Little, Amanda. 2002. Resource quality and beaver spatiotemporal dynamics. MS Landscape Architecture.

Baum, Jill. 2001. Determining wetland management alternatives: the natural history of Picnic Point Marsh. MS Land Resources.

Beifuss, Katherine. 2001. Habitat use and movement of the adult regal fritillary butterfly in southwestern Wisconsin. MS Land Resources.

Blue, Jacob. 2000. The results of subcanopy reduction in an oak-hickory woodland on soil properties and regeneration of groundlayer flora. MS Landscape Architecture.

McDaniel, Amy D. 2000. Mowing, burning and interseeding as management strategies for roadside prairie plantings. MS Landscape Architecture.

Ostrander, Madeline. 2000. A case study of the Flandreau Santee Sioux tribe and the Big Sioux River, South Dakota. MS Land Resources

Baggot, Erin. 1999. The effect of municipal and paper mill sludge amendments on the establishment and productivity of prairie species in iron mine tailings: a case study of the Jackson County Iron Company Mine in Wisconsin. MS Landscape Architecture

Linder, Scott. 1999. Attitudes and behaviors of homeowners living on a prairie and the implications of edges on prairie species composition. MS Landscape Architecture.

West, Paul G. 1996. Impacts of summer fire on vegetation in a Wisconsin prairie remnant and pasture.

Leach, Mark K. 1990. Persistence and change in southern Wisconsin prairie remnants. MS Landscape Architecture.

Kearns, Susan K. 1989. Salvaging prairie forbs and grasses: an evaluation of transplanting methods including root-pruning, top-pruning, and sod transplant. MS Landscape Architecture.

Ecological Design

Present Students:

Thomson, Christine Scott, present, Carbon positive approaches to integrating campuses + nature

Nelson, Matt. Estimating rooftop solar photovoltaic potential in an Upper Midwest City: St. Paul, MN.

Dziennik, Michael. Expanding green roof plant selections to regionalized palettes.

Past Students:

Freeze, Elizabeth. 2016. Children’s perceptions: urban vacant land as opportunity? A case study in Twin Towers, Dayton, Ohio. MS Landscape Architecture.

Redmond, Jamie. 2015. Thesis title: A study of ecological and social benefits of restoration on an urban tributary stream. MA Landscape Architecture.

Slocum, Evan. 2012. Changing planting trends and species composition of the Madison area urban forest. MS Landscape Architecture

Smith, Vincent. 2011. Growing our own: the socioeconomic value of community food production. PhD, Environment and Resources, NIES.

Wegner, Mark. 2010. Relating urban forest canopy development to municipal expansion. MS Landscape Architecture.

Lisi, Robert. 2004. Urban stormwater management using porous hardscapes. MS Landscape Architecture.

Flanders, Debra. 2000. Instruction and practice: philosophies of plant selection and use.

Sutton, Richard. 1997. Scale in Aesthetic Assessment of Landscapes. PhD Land Resources.

Meikle, Tim. The effect of salinity in the germination and growth of Wisconsin roadside prairie species. MS Land Resources.