Jeremy Jackson (scientist)

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Jeremy Jackson
Jeremy Jackson doing the presentation at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. on June 6, 2010
Born Jeremy Bradford Cook Jackson
(1942-11-13) November 13, 1942 (age 75)
Louisville, Kentucky
Nationality American
Alma mater Ph.D. Yale University, 1971
George Washington University
Spouse(s) Nancy Knowlton (m. 1983)
Children 3

Benchley Award for Science (2009)
Harvard Museum of Natural History Roger Tory Peterson Medal (2008)
Edward T. LaRoe Memorial Award for Outstanding Contributions to Conservation Biology (2007)
International Award for Research in Ecology and conservation Biology of the

BBVA Foundation, Madrid (2007)
Scientific career
Fields Marine biologist, paleontologist
Institutions University of California, San Diego
Smithsonian Institution

Jeremy Bradford Cook Jackson (born November 13, 1942) is an American marine ecologist, paleontologist and a professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California as well as a Senior Scientist Emeritus at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in the Republic of Panama.[1] He has published over 150 scientific publications – 18 of which are in Science – and has written seven books.


Jackson was born in Louisville, Kentucky but had moved to New York City by the age of one. He grew up in Miami, Florida and Washington, D.C.. He completed his bachelor in zoology at George Washington University. He received his Ph.D. in geology from Yale University in 1971. Jeremy Jackson is married to Nancy Knowlton. They met in the Caribbean and married in 1983.[2] They have one daughter, Rebecca. Jackson also has a son, Stephen, from a previous marriage.


Dr. Jackson started his career as a marine biologist studying the distribution of bryozoans and their behavior. His work on the evolution and quantitative genetics of marine bryozoans provided some of the strongest evidence to date for the controversial "punctuated equilibrium" model of evolutionary change. In addition to the bryozoan work, Jackson produced influential studies on the Pleistocene record of coral reef communities and was a central figure in a Smithsonian Institution project investigating the evolution of ecosystems in Panama and the surrounding regions.

Jackson also studied the impact of Hurricane Allen on reefs in Jamaica. The resulting paper (Woodley et al., 1981, Science) confidently predicted recovery of the reef. A few years later, Jackson led a study concerning the impact of an oil spill on benthic life in the nearshore regions affected. Again, the situation did not exactly correspond to expectations: corals affected by the spill died, but so did others, outside the stressed region. These were two crucial experiences. The reason for lack of recovery inside impacted regions, and deterioration outside such regions, Jackson decided, was human activities.

Concerned about the increasing effect of human impacts on marine ecosystems, Jackson created what is now known as "historical ecology" of marine ecosystems. Using historical and ecological sources, Jackson demonstrated that the abundance of green turtles in the pre-Columbian Caribbean used to be in the order of tens of millions, orders of magnitude greater than present abundance. After that first attempt at understanding what pristine marine ecosystems looked like, Jackson assembled an international team of ecologists, anthropologists, archeologists and historians, to reconstruct marine ecosystem dynamics for the last several hundred years. The first result of this interdisciplinary working group was a seminal paper led by Jackson (Science 2001) showing that fishing predated any other major disturbance to marine ecosystems in the Holocene. The article engendered much discussion, and an unusual number of comments and replies were published in Science, regarding this work. The paper was chosen as the most important contribution of the year 2001 by Discover Magazine. It is, so far, the most cited paper coming out of the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) in Santa Barbara, and one of the most cited papers in marine ecology.

Dr. Jackson is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science and recipient of numerous international prizes and awards. He is known for his outstanding communication skills.


Jackson has written and lectured about the "brave new ocean" where clear and productive coastal seas turn into oxygen-starved dead zones, and thriving food webs degrade to seas of slime and disease. He is also a proponent of the shifting baselines concept and spoke at the Shifting Baselines Ocean Media Project's Hollywood Ocean Night in 2004. He was also featured in the film The 11th Hour.[3] Jackson served as a National Board Member of the World Wildlife Fund U.S. and a scientific advisor to the Yale Institute of Biospheric Studies.


Select publications

  • Jackson JBC (2008) Evolution and extinction in the brave new ocean. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 105 (Suppl. 1):11458-11465
  • Knowlton N & Jackson JBC (2008) Shifting baselines, local impacts, and climate change on coral reefs. PloS Biology 6:215-220
  • Worm B, Barbier EB, Baumont N, Duffy JE, Foke C, Halpern BS, Jackson JBC, Lotze HK, Micheli F, Palumbi SR, Sala E, Selkoe KA, Stochowicz JJ & Watson R (2006) Impacts of biodiversity loss on ocean ecosystem services. Science 314:787-790
  • McClenachan L, Jackson JBC & Newman MJH (2006) Conservation implications of historic sea turtle nesting loss. Frontiers in Ecology and Environment 4:290-296
  • Jackson JBC & Erwin DH (2006) What can we learn about ecology and evolution from the fossil record? Trends in Ecology and Evolution 21:322-328
  • Newman MJH, Paredes GA, Sala E & Jackson JBC (2006) Structure of Caribbean coral reef communities across a large gradient of fish biomass. Ecology Letters 9:1216-1227
  • Lotze HK, Lenihan HS, Bourque BJ, Bradbury RH, Cooke RG, Kay MC, Kidewell SM, Kirby MX, Peterson CH & Jackson JBC (2006) Depletion, degradation, and recovery potential of estuaries and coastal seas. Science 312:1806-1809
  • Jackson JBC, Ogden JC, Pandolfi JM, Baron N, Bradbury RH, Guzman HM, Hughes TP, Kappel CV, Micheli F, Possingham HP, Sala E (2005) Reassessing U. S. coral reefs. Science 308:1741-1742
  • Eldredge N, Thompson JN, Brakefield PM, Gavrilets S, Jablonski D, Jackson JBC, Lenski RE, Lieberman BS, McPeek, MA, & Miller, W (2005) The dynamics of evolutionary stasis. Paleobiology 31 (Supplement S):133-145
  • Pandolfi JM, Jackson JBC., Baron N, Bradbury RH, Guzman H., Hughes TP, Micheli F, Ogden J, Possingham H, Kappel CV, & Sala E (2005) Are US coral reefs on the slippery slope to slime? Science 307:1725-1726.
  • Jackson JBC et al. (2001) Historical overfishing and the recent collapse of coastal ecosystems. Science 293:629-638
  • Jackson, Jeremy B. C. and Johnson, Kenneth G. 2001. Measuring past biodiversity. Science 293:2401-2403.
  • Jackson JBC (1997) Reefs since Columbus. Coral Reefs 16:S23-S32
  • Jackson JBC (1977) Competition on marine hard substrata: the adaptive significance of solitary and colonial strategies. American Naturalist 111:743-767
  • Jackson JBC & Buss LW (1975) Allelopathy and spatial competition among coral reef invertebrates. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 72:5160-5163


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