Department of Biology
Home People Faculty Etterson


Ph.D. 2000, University of Minnesota

B.S. 1994, University of Minnesota

B.A. 1986, School for International Training


Office: 153B SSB
Phone: 218-726-7408
Websites: and


My research focusses on evolution of populations in response to anthropogenic stressors, especially climate change, and appropriate management practices to ameliorate negative impacts of environmental perturbation. I have evaluated the role of evolution for biotic response to climate change by predicting evolution using quantitative genetic approaches, imposing evolution through artificial selection in ambient and water-stressed conditions, and preparing a baseline collection of seeds that can be used to study evolution using the resurrection approach for the next 50 years. In addition, I conducted several studies to evaluate the effectiveness and potential risks of assisted migration, a climate change management strategy.


Selected Publications

Authors were undergraduates*, graduate students**, postdoctoral researcher***

  • Special Issue of the American Journal of Botany. January 2016 “Evolutionary insights from studies of geographic variation: Establishing a baseline and looking to the future"
  • 2016 Etterson, J.R., S. Franks, S. Mazer, H. Schneider***, N. Soper Gorden***, J. Weber***, R.G. Shaw, K. Winkler**, A. Weis. Project Baseline, an unprecedented resource to study evolution across space and time. American Journal of Botany
  • 2016 Soper Gorden, N.***, K. Winkler**, M. Jahnke**, E. Marshall*, J. Horky*, C. Huddelson*, and J.R. Etterson. Geographic patterns of seed mass are associated with climate factors, but relationships vary between species. American Journal of Botany
  • 2016 Etterson, J.R., R.H Toczydlowski*, K.J Winkler**, J.A. Kirschbaum**, T.S. McAulay** Solidago altissima differs with respect to ploidy frequency and clinal variation across the prairie-forest biome border in Minnesota. American Journal of Botany 103:1-11

  Other representative publications

  • 2012 Shaw, R.G. and J.R. Etterson. 2012. Tansley Review Rapid climate change and the rate of adaptation: in-sight from experimental quantitative genetics. New Phytologist 195:752–765
  • 2012 Schwartz, M.W. et al. Managed Relocation: Integrating the Scientific, Regulatory, and Ethical Challenges. Bioscience 62:732-743
  • 2007 Galloway, L.F., J.R. Etterson. 2007. Transgenerational plasticity is adaptive in the wild. Science 318:1134-1136
  • 2005 Davis, M.B., R.G. Shaw and J.R. Etterson. Evolutionary responses to climate change. Ecology. 86:1704–1714
  • 2001 Etterson, J.R. and R.G. Shaw. 2001. Constraint to adaptive evolution in response to global warming. Science 294:151-154



  • 4801 Evolution
  • 4818 Biotic Response to Climate Change
  • 5240 Ecological Genetics
  • 8012 Integrated Evolutionary Processes


Current Graduate Research

  • 2014 Katie Winkler. Integrated Bioscience (IBS) PhD coadvised with B. Gross. Geo-graphic variation and conservation in rare artic disjunct species in MN
  • 2014 Jordan Mead. IBS MS. Assisted migration of white pine into northern forests of MN
  • 2013 Laura Kavajecz. IBS MS. Adaptive forestry in the northern forests of MN: A test of assisted migration


Recent Undergraduate and High School Student Research

  • 2015 Sara Jean Truman. Clinal variation in floral defense traits. NSF Research Assistantships for High School Students
  • 2015 Andrew Boser. Natural selection on populations of an arctic disjunct plant species along the North Shore of Lake Superior. BURST
  • 2015 Kirk Hietpas. The effects of non-native earthworm invasion in disturbed vs intact Northern Minnesota forests. BURST
  • 2015 Josh Horky. Population genetics of an endangered hemiparasitic plant species in MN. REU
  • 2014 Peter Maddus. Floral and indirect defense traits along a latitudinal gradient. UROP
  • 2014 Peter Maddus. Latitudinal patterns in floral attractive and defense traits, and their potential to mediate pollinator interactions. REU
  • 2014 Dan Thiel. Measuring light availability in restored forest sites: clear cuts, gaps, and shelter woods. BURST
  • 2014 Jessica Le. The lost art of herbarium specimen preparation. BURST
  • 2014 Colton Hudelson. Geographic variation in seed size in a dominant grass of the Great Plains of North America. DR
  • 2014 Andy Olefson. Pollen tube growth following self- and cross-pollinations in Linum sulcatum (grooved flax). DR
  • 2013 Erin Machacek. Interaction between climate change, polyploidy and pollination. UROP
  • 2013 Nicholas Altobelli. Automating the measurements of trichome density in Solidago altissima. UROP
  • 2013 Lindsey Kramer. How does climate change influence disease susceptibility? A study in a polyploidy plant species. UROP
  • 2012 Kristin Reed. The role of stem trichomes in resistance of Solidago altissima to Uroleucon sp. and powdery mildew from the Erysiphaeceae family. UROP
  • 2012 Jolene Prochazk. Does exposure to environments of differing water availability lead to physical changes of Solidago altissima?
  • UROP
  • 2011 Jolene Prochazak. Do diploid and polyploid cytotypes of Solidago altissima expe-rience different patterns of natural selection? REU
  • 2011 Brad Waldorf. Differences in tolerance to chronic drought between diploid and polyploid Solidago altissima. UROP
  • 2011 Rachel Toczydlowski. Geographic range of inbreeding and outbreeding depression in diploid and polyploid Solidago altissima sampled from climate gradients in Minnesota. UROP
  • 2011 Brad Waldorf. Ploidy and plasticity: How does stem hairiness respond to drought? DR
  • 2011 Mike Benson. The importance to fitness of floral versus vegetative propagation in Solidago altissima. DR
  • 2010 Lisa Wiesen. UMD Medical School. Disease dynamics in Solidago altissima selected for earlier flowering. B&P
  • 2010 Jolene Prochazak. Phenotypic selection on flowering time across a climate gradient in Minnesota. University of Minnesota Duluth Medical School. B&P
  • 2010 Jessalyn Toldo. Temporal and spatial patterns of male reproductive success in different ploidy levels of Solidago altissima exposed to drought. UROP
  • 2010 Ryan Hillesheim. Flowering plasticity in diploid and polyploid Solidago altissima. DRamericana, the American bellflower.



I enjoy camping, hiking, canoeing, botanizing, and birding with my husband, Matt Etterson, daughter, Abby, and son, Zak.

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