Arizona Geological Society

Stephen Jackson, USGS, Looking forward from the past: Ecological impacts of climate change through the lens of history

  • 03 Dec 2013
  • 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM
  • Sheraton, 5151 E Grant Rd., Tucson AZ 85712


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Sponsored by: Envirotech Drilling LLC

Abstract:  Forecasting the ecological consequences of climatic change represents a major interdisciplinary challenge for the earth and environmental sciences.  Systematic monitoring and observational records of climate-driven ecological changes rarely span more than the past few decades or centuries.  Looking backward into recent earth history expands our experience, providing a broad array of case studies in which diverse ecological systems have responded to climatic changes of different kinds, rates, and magnitudes.  The geohistorical record identifies threats, opportunities, and challenges for resource managers and conservation planners confronting ongoing and future climate change.  All species today are survivors of large-scale and often abrupt climatic changes of the past glacial/interglacial cycle.  Although those climatic changes left casualties in the form of species extinctions and near-extinctions, most species living today have natural capacities for coping with climate change.  Identifying those capacities will allow conservation managers to leverage them for more effective and efficient conservation efforts in a rapidly changing world.  Meeting the challenges of global change will require unprecedented communication and engagement between the research community and diverse stakeholders.


Bio: Stephen Jackson is the Director for the U.S. Department of the Interior Southwest Climate Science Center, headquartered at The University of Arizona. Previously Jackson was a professor of botany and founding director of the doctoral program in ecology at the University of Wyoming. Before joining the University of Wyoming in 1995, he held faculty positions at Indiana University, Idaho State University, and Northern Arizona University. He is past president (2010-2012) of the American Quaternary Association and is on the governing board of the Ecological Society of America and the editorial boards for Ecosystems, Frontiers in Ecology & Environment, and Trends in Ecology and Evolution. His 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. Jackson received his Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from Indiana University and his B.A. and M.S. in botany and geology at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. (Excerpted from USGS press release dated 8/27/2012)

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