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John W. (Jack) Williams

Professor of Geography, Director of Nelson Center for Climatic Research

Photo of John W. (Jack) Williams


PhD Brown University
1999 MSc Brown University
1996 BA Oberlin College, 1993

Research Areas

Paleoecology, Paleoclimatology, Vegetation Dynamics, Global Climate Change, Quaternary Environments.

Courses Taught

Geography/NIES 120: Global Physical Environments
Geography/Geology 331: Climatic Environments of the Past
Geography/AOS/NIES 332: The Global Warming Debate
Geography/Geology 523: Quaternary Vegetation Dynamics


Center for Climatic Research (Director)

Selected Publications

* indicates student or postdoc in lab
Blois J. L.*, Williams J. W., Fitzpatrick M. C., Jackson S. T., and Ferrier S. (2013) Can space substitute for time in predicting climate-change effects on biodiversity? Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1220228110

Ordonez A.* and Williams J. W. (2013) Climatic and biotic velocities for woody  taxa distributions over the last 16,000 years in eastern North America. Ecology Letters. doi:10.1111/ele.12110.

Veloz S.*, Williams J. W., He F., Liu Z., and Otto-Bliesner B. (2012) No-analog climates and shifting realized niches during the late Quaternary:  Implications for species distribution models. Global Change Biology DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2011.02635.x.

Goring S. J.*, Williams J. W., Blois J. L., Jackson S. T., Paciorek C. J., Booth R. K., Marlon J. R., Blaauw M., and Christen J. A. (2012) Deposition times in the northeastern United States during the Holocene:  establishing valid priors for Bayesian age models. Quaternary Science Reviews 48: 54-60.

Blois, J. L.*, Williams, J. W., Grimm, E. C., Jackson, S. T., and Graham, R. W. (2011) A methodological framework for improved paleovegetation mapping from late-Quaternary pollen records. Quaternary Science Reviews 30: 1926-1939.

Williams, J. W., Blois, J. L.*, and Shuman, B. N. (2011) Extrinsic and intrinsic forcing of abrupt ecological change:  Case studies from the late Quaternary, Journal of Ecology 99: 667-677.

Williams, J. W., Tarasov, P. A., Brewer, S., and Notaro, M. (2011) Late-Quaternary variations in tree cover at the northern forest-tundra ecotone. Journal of Geophysical Research – Biogeosciences 116: G01017.

Williams, J.W., Shuman, B., Bartlein, P.J., Diffenbaugh, N.S. and Webb, T., III (2010) Rapid, time-transgressive, and variable responses to early-Holocene midcontinental drying in North America.  Geology 38: 135-138.

Gill, J. L.*, Williams, J. W., Jackson, S. T., Lininger, K.*, and Robinson, G. S. (2009). Pleistocene megafaunal collapse preceded novel plant communities and enhanced fire regimes. Science 326: 1100-1103.

Williams, J. W. and Jackson, S. T. (2007) Novel Climates, No-Analog Plant Communities, and Ecological Surprises:  Past and Future.  Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment  5: 475-482

Williams, J. W., Jackson, S. T., Kutzbach, J. E. (2007) Projected distributions of novel and disappearing climates by 2100AD.

Jackson, S. T. and Williams, J. W. (2004) Modern analogs in Quaternary paleoecology:  Here today, gone yesterday, gone tomorrow? Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences 32: 495-537.

Williams, J. W., Shuman, B. N., Webb, T., III, Bartlein, P. J., Leduc, P. (2004) Late Quaternary vegetation dynamics in North America:  Scaling from taxa to biomes.  Ecological Monographs 74: 309-334. (Editor’s Choice in Science, May 21, 2004)

Williams, J. W. and Jackson, S. T. (2003) Palynological and AVHRR observations of modern vegetational gradients in eastern North America.  The Holocene 13: 485-497.

Williams, J. W. (2003)  Needleleaved and broadleaved tree cover distributions in North America since the Last Glacial Maximum.  Global and Planetary Change 35:  1-23.

Williams, J. W., Shuman, B. N., Webb III, T. (2001) Dissimilarity analyses of late-Quaternary vegetation and climate in eastern North America.  Ecology.  82:  3346-3362.

Awards and Honors

Aldo Leopold Leadership Program Fellow (2011)
Bullard Fellow, Harvard University (2010-2011)
Honored Instructor Award, University Housing (2010)
Pickard Mid-Career Award, Department of Geography (2009)
Phillip Certain College of Letters & Science Dean’s Distinguished Faculty Award (2008)
Reid Bryson Distinguished Professor of the Climate, People, and Environment Program (2008-2012)
William Skinner Cooper Award, Ecological Society of America (2004)

Graduate Students

Simon Goring (postdoc) Sam Munoz (PhD) Yue Wang (MSc) Kevin Burke (MSc)

Contact Information

Website: http://www.geography.wisc.edu/faculty/williams/lab/

Mailing Address:
550 North Park St
Department of Geography
University of Wisconsin
Madison, WI 53706

Phone: 608-265-5537

Fax: 608-265-3991