- Adjunct Assistant Professor, Plant Biology and Conservation, Northwestern University
- Adjunct Assistant Professor, Landscape Architecture, Illinois Institute of Technology
- Restoration ecology
- Community ecology
- Wetland ecology
- Invasion biology
Ecological restoration, "the process of assisting the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged, or destroyed" (Society for Ecological Restoration International), is a vital conservation strategy that is difficult to do well. I am interested in what factors constrain the recovery of degraded habitats, and the extent to which different restoration approaches can overcome those constraints.
For example, invasive plant species can profoundly alter the habitats they invade, decreasing local diversity of plants and animals and changing aspects of the physical and chemical environment, nutrient cycling, and other processes. Restoration is not just a matter of removing the invasive species itself, but of dealing with the legacy invasion leaves behind.
My students and I conduct research to better understand the process of ecological change, the factors that influence restoration effectiveness, and the ability of restored sites to perform key functions and services such as biodiversity support and nutrient cycling.
Ongoing research includes projects on:
- Ecology, genetics, and management of the invasive wetland grass Phragmites australis (with Jeremie Fant, Eric Lonsdorf, and others)
- Influence of wetland management and plant-community composition on habitat use by secretive marsh birds (with Wes Glisson and collaborators from the Wisconsin DNR)
- Effects of vegetation change and restoration on wetland denitrification (Paul Hartzog dissertation)
- Community phylogenetics of remnant and restored tallgrass prairies (with collaborators at the Garden and the Morton Arboretum)
- Responses of native-bee communities to grassland restoration (Becky Tonietto dissertation)
- Restoration of degraded plant communities in the Colorado Plateau (with Andrea Kramer, Jeremie Fant, and Krissa Skogen)
Google Scholar page: http://scholar.google.com/citations?user=RUraDw0AAAAJ
Larkin, DJ, JF Steffen, RM Gentile, and CR Zirbel. 2013. Ecosystem changes following restoration of a buckthorn-invaded woodland. Restoration Ecology. doi: 10.1111/rec.12016
Steffen, JF, J Palinscar, FM Funk, and DJ Larkin. 2012. Activity and diversity of Collembola (Insecta) and mites (Acari) in the litter of a degraded Midwestern oak woodland. The Great Lakes Entomologist 45:1–18.
Larkin, DJ, SC Lishawa, and NC Tuchman. 2012. Appropriation of nitrogen by the invasive cattail Typha x glauca. Aquatic Botany 100:62–66.
Larkin, DJ. 2012. Lengths and correlates of lag phases in upper-Midwest plant invasions. Biological Invasions 14:827–838.
Larkin, DJ, MJ Freyman, SC Lishawa, P Geddes, and NC Tuchman. 2012. Mechanisms of dominance by the invasive hybrid cattail Typha x glauca. Biological Invasions 14:65–77.
Tonietto, R, J Fant, J Ascher, K Ellis, and D Larkin. 2011. A comparison of bee communities of Chicago green roofs, parks and prairies. Landscape and Urban Planning 103:102–108.
Larkin, DJ, JM West, and JB Zedler. 2009. Created pools increase food availability for fishes in a restored salt marsh. Ecological Engineering 35:65–74.
Larkin, DJ, SP Madon, JM West, and JB Zedler. 2008. Topographic heterogeneity influences fish use of an experimentally restored tidal marsh. Ecological Applications 18:483.