Carter Johnson

Carter Johnson


Distinguished Professor Emeritus

Mailing Address

University Station
Brookings, SD 57007


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 100 peer-reviewed journal articles, books and book chapters.


Ph.D., North Dakota State University, Plant Ecology, 1971 B.S., Biology, Augustana College, 1968

Academic Interests/Expertise

Climate change, wetlands, riparian vegetation

Committee Activities

National Research Council Committees; Graduate student committees (doctoral and master's)

Specialty Area

  • Landscape Ecology

Awards and 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); Recipient of the David Fee Memorial Award (2012)


RECENT GRANTS SINCE 1999-- 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) 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) 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) 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) 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) 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);

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

Creative Activities

Film making about various research projects; photography; writing papers for the lay person about science