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Steve Jackson studies the effects of environmental change on forests, woodlands, and wetlands. A native of southern Illinois, he studied botany and geology at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale (B.A., M.S.), and received a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Indiana University in 1983. He was a National Science Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellow in Environmental Biology in residence at Brown University, and has held faculty positions at Indiana University, Idaho State University, Northern Arizona University, and the University of Wyoming, where he was founding Director of the doctoral Program in Ecology (2004-2011) and is now Professor Emeritus. Jackson was Vice-Chair of the National Research Council Committee on Geologic Records of Biosphere Dynamics (2004-2005), President of the American Quaternary Association (2010-2012), and is currently on the Governing Board of the Ecological Society of America. He serves on the editorial boards for Ecology Letters, Frontiers in Ecology & Environment, and Trends in Ecology and Evolution, and has previously been on editorial boards for Ecology, Ecological Monographs, Ecosystems, Journal of Vegetation Science, Diversity & Distributions, Wetlands, and New Phytologist. Jackson is a 2006 Fellow of the Aldo Leopold Leadership Program, a 2009 Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and in 2012 was a Visiting Research Fellow at Merton College, University of Oxford and a Scholar in Residence at the Ucross Foundation.
In September 2012 Jackson became founding Director of the Department of the Interior Southwest Climate Science Center, a partnership between the U.S. Geological Survey and a six-university consortium led by the University of Arizona. He is also Professor of Geosciences at the University of Arizona.
Jackson’s research employs tree-rings, fossil rodent-middens, and sediments from lakes and bogs to investigate how past climatic changes and human activities have affected species distributions, biodiversity, and ecosystem properties. His study sites range from wilderness areas in the Rocky Mountain and upper Great Lakes regions to agricultural landscapes in the Southeast and urban/industrial settings in the Midwest. His research provides baselines for gauging ongoing and future changes in ecological systems, and delivers case studies that reveal the complex dynamics of ecological response to environmental change and variability. His work has revealed the emergence of novel ecosystems under climate change, the interactions between climate variability and demographic processes in shaping ecosystem structure and species ranges, the dynamics of colonization and extinction in response to environmental change, and the ecological legacies of past climate changes and human activities. Jackson’s work has implications for conservation policy and management, and he has published several papers in various outlets, including Science and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, on ecological restoration and biodiversity conservation in a rapidly changing world. He has long been concerned with bridging gaps between the science-producing and decision-making communities, and in his new role as Director of the Southwest Climate Science Center he seeks to develop more effective dialogue and exchange aimed at effective climate-change adaptation.
Program Director: Ray Callaway
Project Administrator: Todd Kipfer
University of Montana
Missoula, MT 59812
Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education
2500 Broadway Street
Helena, MT 59620