Contact Us


Department of Geography
phone: (208) 885-6216
McClure Hall 203
875 Perimeter Drive, MS 3021
Moscow, ID 83844-3021


Michael Jennings, Ph.D.

Office: 323 Mines Building
Phone: 208-885-6061
Email: jennings@uidaho.edu

Associate Research Professor

Campus Locations: Moscow, Idaho
With UI Since 1992

  • Research/Focus Areas
    • Biotic responses to climate change
    • Conservation biology
    • Community ecology
    • Biogeography
    • Habitat classification
    • Vegetation science
    • Spatial modeling
    • Natural resources planning and policy
  • Biography
    Growing up in Haiti, Paraguay, and Brazil, the grinding poverty and environmental degradation were always up close and personal. Slums, diseased bodies, and triumphs of the human spirit were as much a part of everyday life as spectacular coral reefs, deep jungles, and decimated rainforests.

    Today Michael Jennings spends his time as a scientist and teacher, working, sometimes desperately, to achieve a sustainable planet. One of his early jobs was deploying and testing sonar for the first time to track juvenile salmon as they migrated through the dams on the Columbia River on their way to sea.

    He went on to study land use planning and later earned a Ph.D. in environmental science and ecology.

    Michael learned a lot about the power and the passion that communities could have for conserving local nature while studying rivers in New Jersey (of all places) for Wild and Scenic designation with the National Park Service. But it was during his years as an ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, leading an effort to map the distribution of each animal species and habitat type of the U.S., that he fully grasped how quickly and how seriously our web of life is unraveling.

    As a senior scientist for global trends with The Nature Conservancy, Michael developed models, maps, and data of the diversity of life across all of Earth’s land. Among other things, he calculated and mapped phylogenetic diversity of terrestrial vertebrates of the world, developed the first worldwide assessment of landscape fragmentation, and modeled human accessibility into wild lands of the world.

    Michael has written more than fifty scientific papers, monographs, and books on biodiversity and conservation. His projects include: what landscapes will look and function like in the near future as today’s climates are disrupted; global biodiversity status and trends; endangered ecosystems; and, the ecology and classification of plant and animal communities.
  • Selected Publications
    • Scientific foundations of the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems (2013), D.A. Keith, J.P. Rodríguez, M. Jennings and others, PLoS ONE 8(5): e62111.
    • Climate disruption: Are we beyond the worst case scenario? (2013), M. Jennings, Global Policy 4(1):32-42.
    • VegBank: A permanent, open-access archive for vegetation plot data (2012), R.K. Peet, M.T. Lee, M.D. Jennings, and D. Faber-Langendoen, Biodiversity & Ecology 4:233-242.
    • Towards Red List criteria for threatened ecosystems (2010), J.P. Rodríguez, K.M. Rodríguez-Clark, M. Jennings, D.A. Keith, and others, Conservation Biology 25 (1):  21–29.
    • Field notes from the future: Environmental conditions at four localities in 2100 (in press) M. Jennings, In: After climate change and culture-shift: Imagining a world, Jim Norwine, ed., Springer, New York.
    • The atlas of global conservation (2010), J. Hoekstra, J. Molnar, M. Jennings, C. Revenga, M. Spalding, T. Boucher, J. Robertson, T.J. Hiebel, University of California Press.
    • Standards for associations and alliances of the U.S. National Vegetation Classification (2009), M. Jennings, D. Faber-Langendoen, O. Loucks, R. Peet, D. Roberts, Ecological Monographs 79(2): 173–199.
    • Reconciling social and biological needs in an endangered ecosystem: the Palouse as a model for bioregional planning (2009), S. Donovan, C. Looney, T. Hanson, Y. Sánchez de León, J.D. Wulfhorst, S. Eigenbrode, M. Jennings, J. Johnson-Maynard, N. Bosque- Pérez, Ecology and Society 14(1):9
    • A comparative measure of biodiversity based on species composition (2008), M. Jennings, Hoekstra, J., Higgins, J., and Boucher, T., Biodiversity and Conservation 17(4): 833-840.
    • Latitudinal patterns of range size and species richness of New World woody plants (2007), M.D. Weiser, B.J. Enquist, B. Boyle, T.J. Killeen, P.M. Jørgensen, G. Fonseca, M.D. Jennings, A.J. Kerkhoff, T.E.J. Lacher, A. Monteagudo, M.P. Núñez Vargas, O.L. Phillips, N.G. Swenson, and R.V. Martínez, Global Ecology and Biogeography 16(5): 679-688.
    • Diversity and productivity of plant communities across the Inland Northwest, USA (2005), M.D. Jennings, J. Williams, and M. Stromberg, 2005, Oecologia 143(4):607-618.
    • Biodiversity needs the help of global change managers, not museum-keepers (2005), P.L. Ibisch, M.D. Jennings, and S. Kreft, Nature 438:156.
  • Outreach Projects

    Location: Near Harvard, Idaho, USA.

    Description: Water Howellia is one of the oddest plants on Earth. It flowers once underwater and then produces a completely different flower above the water. It only exists at six locations in the world, one of which is along the Palouse River in North Idaho, and is an endangered species. Fortunately the Palouse Land Trust holds a conservation easement on the property where this population lives and Michael manages the affairs of the plant and the easement, with support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Palouse-Clearwater Environmental Institute.

    Start date: January 2009.
    End date: ongoing.

  • Awards and Honors

    Silver Medal, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “For leading a hugely successful interagency production and application of the first continental satellite-derived land cover database for environmental quality issues,” 2001.

Michael's Links

"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." --Albert Einstein

Related Programs