Phone: (605) 688-4729
Mailing Address:
Natural Resource Management
Natural Resource Management-Box 2140B
Brookings, SD 57007

W Johnson (Carter)

Distinguished Professor

General Position Description:
Combined teaching and research. Current courses taught are Landscape Ecology, Restoration Ecology, and Honors College Colloquium courses.
Specialty Area:
Landscape Ecology
Areas of Study/Academic Interests:
Climate change, wetlands, riparian vegetation
Ph.D., North Dakota State University, Plant Ecology, 1971 B.S., Biology, Augustana College, 1968
Dr. W. Carter Johnson is Distinguished Professor of Ecology at South Dakota State University in Brookings. He received a B.S. in Biology from Augustana College (Sioux Falls) in 1968 and a Ph.D. in Botany (Plant Ecology) from North Dakota State University in 1971. Dr. Johnson began his professional career as Research Associate and Research Staff Member at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (1971-77), followed by 12 years in the Department of Biology at Virginia Tech. In 1989 he became Head of the Department of Horticulture, Forestry, Landscape, and Parks at South Dakota State University, a position held until 1995. Since then, he has maintained a combined teaching and research position at SDSU. His research interests include river regulation and riparian forest ecology, climate change and prairie wetlands, seed dispersal in fragmented landscapes, paleoecology (climate reconstruction using tree rings; Holocene seed dispersal and plant migration) and multifunctional agriculture and agroecological restoration. His research program is strongly multi-disciplinary and inter-institutional. Dr. Johnson has published approximately 125 peer-reviewed journal articles, books and book chapters.
Teaching Responsibilities:
Research/Scholarship Responsibilities:
Research Appointment--80%
Creative Activities:
Film making about various research projects; photography; writing papers for the lay person about science
Professional Memberships:
Ecological Society of America (Life Member); American Association for the Advancement of Science; American Institute of Biological Sciences; Society of Wetland Scientists; International Association of Landscape Ecology
Committee Activities:
National Research Council Committees; Graduate student committees (doctoral and master's)
RECENT GRANTS SINCE 1999— 1. Co-principal Investigator, AIntegrating the effects of land use and global climate change on hydrology and vegetation of northern Great Plains wetlands,@ U.S. Geological Survey (Biological Research Division, Patuxent, MD), 5 years beginning May 1999 ($675,000) 2. Principal Investigator (with Dennis Todey, SDSU and Bill Capehart, SDSM&T), AModeling climate-wetland interactions in the northern Great Plains@, EPSCoR Biocomplexity Studies Program ($100,000, 1 year beginning May 2004) 3. Principal Investigator, “Regenerating cottonwoods for bald eagles in South Dakota, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through S.D. Game, Fish and Parks Dept.”, ($67,000 for two years beginning January 1, 2005) 4. Co-principal Investigator (with Leo Schleicher), AResources conservation using native turfgrasses in the Northern Plains,@ International Arid Lands Consortium ($75,000 for three years beginning 2005) 5. Principal Investigator, ANon-linear responses of prairie pothole landscapes to climate change and land management,@ EPA Star Grant Program ($857,000 for three years beginning July 1, 2006) 6. Co-principal Investigator (with Arvid Boe, Tom Schumacher, David Clay, Vance Owens, and Scott Kronberg), “Lignocellulosic biomass production and environmental quality at South Dakota’s Prairie Farm.” SDSU Sun Grant Center ($400,000 for two years beginning March, 2009); Principal investigator, Incorporating Biodiversity into Switchgrass Monoclultures, Department of Energy through North Central Sun Grant Center, $590,000 (3 years--2011-2014);
SELECTED, PEER REVIEWED RIVER/WETLAND RELATED RESEARCH PAPERS AND BOOKS: (out of a TOTAL ABOUT 125.) -Dixon, M. D., C. J. Boever, V. L. Albers, C. L. Merkord, E. C. Munes, M. L. Scott, W. C. Johnson, and T. C. Cowman. 2015. Effects of a “natural” flood event on the riparian ecosystem of a regulated large-river system: the 2011 flood on the Missouri River, USA. Ecohydrology 8: 812-824. -Rashford, B. S., R. M. Adams, JunJie Wu, R. A. Voldseth, G. R. Guntenspergen, B. Werner, and W. C. Johnson. 2015. Combining economics and ecology to model climate impacts in the Prairie Pothole Region of North America. Ecological Economics DOI 10.1007/s10113-015-0768-3 -Volke, M. A., M. Scott, W. C. Johnson, and M. D. Dixon. 2015.The ecological significance of emerging deltas in regulated rivers. BioScience 65 (6): 598-611. -Johnson, W. C., B. Werner, and G. Guntenspergen. 2015. Non-linear responses of glaciated prairie wetlands to climate warming. Climatic Change DOI 10.1007/s10584-015-1534-8 -Zilverberg, C. J., K. Teoh, A. Boe, W.C. Johnson and V. Owens. 2015. Strategic use of native species on environmental gradients increases diversity and biomass relative to switchgrass monocultures. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 215: 110-121. -Spencer, C. N., M.D. VanEssen, E.R. Renuer, and W.C. Johnson. 2015. Prairie or woodland? Reconstructing past plant communities at Good Earth State Park via soil core and tree ring analysis. South Dakota Academy of Science (in press) -Johnson, W. C., M. A. Volke, M. L. Scott, and M. D. Dixon. 2014. The dammed Missouri: prospects for recovering Lewis and Clark’s river. Ecohydrology DOI: 10.1002/eco.1534. -Johnson, W. C., M. A. Volke, M. L. Scott, and M. D. Dixon. 2014. The dammed Missouri:; prospects for recovering Lewis and Clark’s river. National Wetlands Newsletter 26:18-23. (abridged from Ecohydrology paper; invited by editor to highlight my Environmental Law Institute wetland science award) -Hagy, H. S. C. Yaich, W. C. Johnson, C. R. Loesch, F. Reid, J. Simpson, S. Stephens, R. Tiner, B. Werner, and G. Yarris. 2014. Wetland issues affecting waterfowl conservation in North America. Wildfowl Special Issue 4:343-367. -Zilverberg, C. J., W. C. Johnson, V. Owens, A. Boe, T. Schumacher, K. Reitsma, C. O. Hong, C. Novotny, M. Volke, and B. Werner. 2014. Biomass yield from planted mixtures and monocultures of native prairie vegetation across a heterogeneous farm landscape. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 86:148-159. -Zilverberg, C. J., W. C. Johnson, A. Boe, V. Owens, D. W. Archer, C. Novotny, M. Volke, and B. Werner. 2014. Growing Spartina pectinata in previously farmed prairie wetlands for economic and ecological benefits. Wetlands DOI 10.1007/s13157-014-0548-8. -Dixon, M. D., C. J. Boever, V. L. Albers, C. L. Merkord, E. C. Munes, M. L. Scott, W. C. Johnson, and T. C. Cowman. 2014. Effects of a “natural” flood event on the riparian ecosystem of a regulated large-river system: the 2011 flood on the Missouri River, USA. Ecohydrology DOI -Zilverberg, C., W. C. Johnson, D. Archer, S. Kronberg, T. Schumacher, A. Boe, and C Novotny. 2014. Profitable prairie restoration: the EcoSun Prairie Farm experiment. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 69(1):22A-25A DOI:10.2489/jswc.69.1.22A -Werner, B., W. C. Johnson, and G. Guntenspergen. 2013. Evidence for 20th century climate warming and wetland drying in the North American Prairie Pothole Region. Ecology and Evolution Wiley Online Library DOI: 10.1002/ece3.731 -Johnson, W. Carter, M. Dixon, M. Scott. G. Larson, L. Rabbe, M. Volke, and B. Werner. 2012. Forty years of riparian vegetation change on the Missouri River floodplain. BioScience 62(2): 123-135. -Johnson, W. Carter (with 12 co-authors/panel members). 2011. Missouri River Planning: Recognizing and Incorporating Sediment Management. National Research Council of the National Academies. National Academy Press, Washington, DC 152 pp. -Johnson, W. C., B. Werner, G. Guntenspergen, R. Voldseth, B. Millett, D. Naugle, M. Tulbure, R. Carroll, J. Tracy, and C. Olawsky. 2010. Prairie wetland complexes as landscape functional in a changing climate. BioScience 60(2):128-140. (featured article) -Millett, B. V., W. C. Johnson, and G. R. Guntenspergen. 2009. Climate trends in the Prairie Pothole Region of North America. Climatic Change 93:243-267. -Voldseth, R. A., W. C. Johnson, T. Gilmanov, G. R. Guntenspergen, and B. V. Millett. 2007. Model estimates of land-use effects on water levels of northern prairie wetlands. Ecol. App. 17:527-540. -Werner, B., J. Tracy, W. C. Johnson, R. A. Voldseth, G. R. Guntenspergen, and B. Millett. Modeling the effects of tile drain placement on the hydrologic function of farmed prairie wetlands. Journal of the American Water Resources Association (in press) -Johnson, W. C. (with 13 other panel members). 2005. Endangered and Threatened Species in the Platte River Basin. National Research Council. National Academy Press, Washington, DC. 299 pp. -Johnson, W.C., B. Millett, T. Gilmanov, R. Voldseth, G. Guntenspergen, and D. Naugle. 2005. Vulnerability of northern prairie wetlands to climate change. BioScience 55 (10):863-872. -Johnson, W. C., S. E. Boettcher, K. Poiani, and G. Guntenspergen. 2004. Influence of weather extremes on the water levels of glaciated prairie wetlands. Wetlands 24:385-398. -Shapley, M.D., W.C. Johnson, D.R. Engstrom, and W.R. Osterkamp. 2004. Late-Holocene flooding and drought in the Northern Great Plains, USA, reconstructed from tree rings, lake sediments, and ancient shorelines. The Holocene 15:29-41. -Johnson, W.C. (with 12 other panel members). 2004. Managing the Columbia River: Instream Flows, Water Withdrawals, and Salmon Survival. National Research Council. National Academy Press, Washington, DC. 246 pp. -Johnson, W. C. 2002. Riparian vegetation diversity along regulated rivers: contribution of novel and relict habitats. Freshwater Biology (Special Issue) 47:749-760. -Johnson, W. C. (with 12 other panel members). 2002. The Missouri River Ecosystem: exploring the prospects for recovery. National Research Council. National Academy Press, Washington,DC 175 pp. -Osterkamp, W. R., W. C. Johnson, and M. D. Dixon. 2001. Biophysical gradients related to channel islands, middle Snake River, Idaho. Pp. 73-83 IN: Dorava, J. et al. (eds.). Geomorphic Processes and Riverine Habitat. American Geophysical Union Monograph, Washington, DC. 253 pp. -Johnson, W.C. 2000. Tree recruitment and survival in rivers: influence of hydrological processes. Hydrological Processes (Special Issue) 14:3051-3074. John Wiley and Sons, Ltd. -Johnson, W. C. and S.E. Boettcher. 2000. The pre-settlement Plate: wooded or prairie river? Great Plains Research 10:36-68. -Johnson, W. C. and S. E. Boettcher. 1999. Restoration of the Platte River: What is the target? Land and Water 43:20-23. -Dixon, M. D. and W. C. Johnson. 1999. Riparian vegetation along the middle Snake River: zonation, geographic trends, and historical changes. Great Basin Naturalist 59:18-34. -Johnson, W. C. 1998. Adjustment of riparian vegetation to river regulation in the Great Plains, USA. Wetlands 18:608-618. -Johnson, W. C. 1997. Equilibrium response of riparian vegetation to flow regulation in the Platte River, Nebraska. Regulated Rivers: Research and Management 13:403-415. -Johnson, W. C. 1994. Woodland expansion in the Platte River, Nebraska: patterns and causes. Ecological Monographs 64:45-84. (Awarded best paper of 1994 by U.S. Chapter of International Association of Landscape Ecology and W.S. Cooper Award by Ecological Society of America) -Johnson, W. Carter, R. L. Burgess, and W. R. Keammerer. 1976. Forest overstory vegetation on the Missouri River floodplain in North Dakota. Ecol. Monogr. 46:59-84.
Awards & Honors:
Since 1994: o Best paper of 1994 award by U.S. Chapter of International Association of Landscape Ecology (1995). o Recipient of W.S. Cooper Award from the Ecological Society of America for outstanding contributions to geobotany or physiographic ecology (1996). o Visiting Scholar, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada (Spring 1998). o Inaugural address, European IALE (International Association of Landscape Ecologists) Congress, “Key concepts in landscape ecology,” Preston, England (Fall 1998). o Member, editorial board for the journal Landscape Ecology (1997-2001 term). o Member, editorial board for the journal, Wetlands (1999-2002 term). o Appointed to Natl. Research Council’s “Committee on the Missouri River Ecosystem” (1999-2001). o Elected member, Board of Professional Certification, Ecological Society of America (2001-2004). o Appointed to National Research Council’s “Committee on Water Resources Management, Instream Flows, and Salmon Survival in the Columbia River” (2002-2004). o Appointed to National Research Council’s “Committee on Endangered and Threatened Species in the Platte River Basin” (2003-2004). o Distinguished Professor, South Dakota State University (2006). o Griffith Research Scholar, College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences, SDSU (2008). o Appointed to National Research Council’s “Committee on Missouri River Recovery and Associated Sediment Management Issues” (2008-2011). o Recipient of the David Fee Memorial Award (2012)
Former Positions Held:
Scientist--Oak Ridge National Laboratory, 1971-1977 Associate Professor--Virginia Tech, 1977-1989