Reinartz, James

Director Emeritus


Ph.D., Duke University, 1981
B.S., University of Wisconsin, 1975

Research Interests

I have broad research interests in plant ecology, wetland ecology, and evolutionary biology. Some of my current and recent research projects are described below.

Ecology of the Cedarburg Bog

In 1991 I completed the first complete systematic survey of the vegetation of the 2500-acre Cedarburg Bog. In 2006 the vegetation survey was repeated at the same 165 permanent sample locations. We are studying how the plant communities of the wetland have changed over this 15-year period. We also have an extensive collection of tamarack cores or sections and stem sections of the invasive shrub, glossy buckthorn, from these sample sites, which we are using to correlate the growth rates of this dominant native tree and invasive shrub with the environment and composition on the plant communities. A detailed GIS has been developed for the Bog and we have long term studies of the complex hydrology of the wetland, the basin geomorphology, and the effects of water level disturbance on parts of the system.

Ecology of tamarack in southeastern Wisconsin

This work is a multifaceted project aimed at conserving, restoring, and developing management practices for tamarack in southern Wisconsin. Conifer swamps were the most common presettlement wetland type in a major part of Wisconsin’s Southern Glacial Plains landscape, where beech–maple was the dominant upland forest. These Southern Tamarack Swamps are now categorized as uncommon and high-quality examples are rare. Tamarack has declined in southern Wisconsin, but remains an indicator of relatively undisturbed wetlands. Our project is mapping the occurrence of natural populations of tamarack in the Southern Glacial Plains, and comparing this modern distribution to presettlement. We are exploring landscape-level factors that lead to the persistence or loss of tamarack, by comparing wetlands that still support tamarack with a sample of wetlands from which tamarack has been extirpated.

We are also describing where, and under what conditions, tamarack is successfully reproducing naturally, and developing ‘Best Management Practices’ to sustain and encourage regeneration of natural populations. We are examining recruitment of tamaracks by describing early reproductive success under a range of conditions, and have established several experiments using a range of management or disturbance regimes to determine how best to provide conditions that promote seedling establishment.

Plant communities of the riparian zone of the Milwaukee River

A number of active organizations have a great deal of interest in conservation and restoration of the Milwaukee River corridor. Riparian areas (the terrestrial zone along the banks of the river) are dynamic landscapes that are crucial to the health of the natural river system. Understanding the current and presettlement conditions of the Milwaukee River riparian plant communities will help to inform conservation efforts in this corridor. We have identified and sampled all the major plant communities in the riparian areas of the Milwaukee and are classifying these into community types which will be evaluated for native plant diversity, Floristic Quality Index, and the prevalence of invasives. We will relate these community types to their position relative to the geomorphology of the river, their elevation, and both riverine and human-caused disturbance levels. Once we have classified the riparian plant communities of the Milwaukee, this information can be used to produce a vegetation map of the riparian zone.

The development of plant communities in newly created wetlands

My students and I have conducted several short-term and long-term studies of wetlands that have been restored or created on Conservation Reserve Program lands in Ozaukee County. Thousands of these small isolated wetland basins have been created over the past 20 years in the United States, about 350 in Ozaukee County alone. These wetlands provide a wonderful opportunity to study the process of colonization of the wetlands by plants and animals, and to compare the communities that result from natural colonization with those achieved with intentional introductions. This has been the focus of our research program.


I very much enjoy teaching, and teach a week-long intensive course on “The Vegetation of Wisconsin” and other short-courses on “The Ecology and Physiology of Plants in Winter”, and “Vegetation Sampling Methods”. I have also taught Biometry (statistics for biologists) and a wide variety of short-courses including, Wetland Ecology and Hydrology, Field Research in Plant Population Biology, Evolution in the Plant Kingdom, Root Ecology, Seedbank Ecology, Ecological Genetics, Evolutionary Ecology, and Surveying Techniques for Ecologists.

Selected Publications

Mills, J.E., J.A. Reinartz, G. A. Meyer and E. B. Young. 2009. Exotic shrub invasion in an undisturbed wetland has little community-level effect over a 15-year period. Biological Invasions 11:1803-1820.

Hovick, S. M. and J. A. Reinartz. 2007. Restoring forest in wetlands dominated by reed canarygrass: The effects of pre-planting treatments on early survival of planted stock. Wetlands 27: 24-39.

Redell, D., D. Shurilla, H. Guenther, S.R. Craven, J.A. Reinartz, and M. Rowe. 2006. Detecting directional movement at a hibernaculum with an infrared beam-break system. Bat Research News 47: 71-80.

Reinartz, J. A. 1997. Controlling glossy buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula) with winter treatments of herbicide on cut stumps. Natural Areas Journal 17: 38-41.

Reinartz, J. A. 1997. Restoring populations of rare plants. In: S. Packard, and C. F. Mutel (eds.) The Tallgrass Restoration Handbook for Prairies, Savannas and Woodlands. Island Press, Wash., DC, USA.

Reinartz, J. A. 1995. Planting state-listed endangered and threatened plants. Conservation Biology 9: 771-781.

Reinartz, J. A. and D. H. Les. 1994. Bottleneck-induced dissolution of self-incompatibility and breeding system consequences in Aster furcatus (Asteraceae). American Journal of Botany 81: 446-455.

Reinartz, J. A. and E. L. Warne. 1993. Development of vegetation in small created wetlands in southeastern Wisconsin. Wetlands 13: 153-164.

Les, D. H., J. A. Reinartz, and L. A. Leitner. 1992. Distribution and habitats of the forked aster (Aster furcatus: Asteraceae), a threatened Wisconsin plant. Michigan Botanist 31: 143-152.

Les, D. H., J. A. Reinartz and E. J. Esselman. 1991. Genetic consequences of rarity in Aster furcatus (Asteraceae), a threatened, self-incompatible plant. Evolution 45: 1641-1650.

Popp, J. W., P. E. Matthiae, C. M. Weise and J. A. Reinartz. 1989. Fluctuations of a Peromyscus leucopus population over a twenty-two year period. Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters 77: 97-100.

Popp, J. W. and J. A. Reinartz. 1988. Sexual dimorphism in biomass allocation and clonal growth of Xanthoxylum americanum. American Journal of Botany 75: 1732-1741.

Reinartz, J. A. and J. W. Popp. 1987. The structure of clones of prickly ash (Xanthoxylum americanum). American Journal of Botany 74: 415 428.

Reinartz, J. A. 1984. Life history variation of common mullein (Verbascum thapsus L.) I. Latitudinal differences in population dynamics and timing of reproduction. Journal of Ecology 72: 897 912.

Reinartz, J. A. 1984. Life history variation of common mullein (Verbascum thapsus L.) II. Plant size, biomass partitioning and morphology. Journal of Ecology 72: 913 926.

Reinartz, J. A. 1984. Life history variation of common mullein (Verbascum thapsus L.) III. Differences among sequential cohorts. Journal of Ecology 72: 927 936.