Dr. Jeremy Johnson, a faculty member in the department of environmental studies at Prescott College, is also a biogeography and landscape genetics researcher and educator. As Johnson stated, “I am a forest ecologist and geneticist with a broad range of teaching and research interests, who aims to understand the spatial and temporal patterns of how forests respond to the multiple threats associated with global environmental change. In particular, I study movement patterns of plants through seed dispersal, local adaptation patterns and natural genetic resistance to invasive forest diseases. My goal is to secure the long-term survival of forests through effective conservation measures and measures by training the next generation of ecologists and naturalists.” He has published various articles, given presentations, and received awards and scholarships for his work.
His latest publication was a collaborative paper with Richard Sniezko, and Doug Savin with the USDA Forest Service Dorena Genetic Resource Center called “Assessing the durability, stability, and usability of genetic resistance to a non‐native fungal pathogen in two pine species.” This article elaborates on the experiment of non-native pests and pathogens having negative impacts on forest health globally, especially where there is a high degree of susceptibility resulting from a lack of co-evolution alongside the disease or pest. Despite the lack of co-evolution with these pests and pathogens, at least some forest species will have natural genetic resistance. In general, non-co-evolved resistance arises when a trait that evolved for a different function provides some resistance to a novel pest or pathogen; known as exaptation. By determining the type(s), frequency, and geographic distribution of resistance and its long-term durability across the geographic range of a tree species we can better manage for restoration and reforestation of threatened forest species.
As a result of this article, Dr. Johnson has been invited to speak at the 15th Biennial Conference of Science & Management on the Colorado Plateau & Southwest Region, which takes place at Northern Arizona University from September 9-12, 2019. The 15th Biennial Conference of Science & Management on the Colorado Plateau & Southwest Region brings together resource managers and research scientists to discuss findings and management needs associated with the lands, resources, and cultures of the Colorado Plateau and the larger southwestern United States. Dr. Johnson said that “at this conference, I will discuss the results of our new publication that used long-term field plantings to determine the durability of quantitative disease resistance relative to major gene resistance in three white pine species. We examine the durability and stability of resistance levels, previously identified in seedling screening trials, of Pinus monticola (western white pine), P. lambertiana (sugar pine) and P. strobiformis (southwestern white pine) to the non-native invasive fungal pathogen (Cronartium ribicola) responsible for the disease white pine blister rust, using 10 to 20-year-old white pine blister rust trials. We found that resistance varies for each host species and in different environments. Major gene resistance was of limited durability due to evolved virulence in the pathogen while quantitative disease resistance provided increased survival and improved durability in the long-term”
In addition, he will be attending the biennial business meeting of the Colorado Plateau Cooperative Ecosystems Science Unit (CPCESU). He will be the representative of Prescott College to the unit. CPCESU is a cooperative network, transcending political and institutional boundaries, which creates innovative opportunities for research, education, and technical assistance in support of the management and stewardship by partner agencies of the Colorado Plateau’s natural, cultural, and social resources.