JB in Haleakala

Jackie (Jonathan M.) Brown

Professor of Biology
Grinnell College
Department of Biology
Grinnell, IA 50112-0806

Phone: 641-269-3096
FAX: 641-269-4285
Email: brownj(at)grinnell.edu (type @ for "(at)")

 Last updated 30 November 2010
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Author: Jackie Brown

JB inspecting a Haleakala silversword for herbivorous flies. June 2002.

I'm a member of the faculty at Grinnell College in the Department of Biology, where I teach courses in ecology and evolutionary biology

My research centers on the ecological context of speciation in insects, using ecological, behavioral and molecular systematic approaches.   Some of my publications can be easily downloaded, or consult my complete c.v (pdf).  

I am formerly the director of the Conard Environmental Research Area (CERA), Grinnell's biological field station, and a founding member of Grinnell College's Center for Prairie Studies

There are links at the bottom of the page relating to my professional and personal interests.


Tut100 -- Evolution and Society

Evolution is perhaps both the most influential and the most controversial development in science in the last 200 years. The ideas Charles Darwin laid out in his landmark work, On the Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection, have had a tumultuous history because they appear to confront culturally-embedded beliefs about the nature of humanity, as well as our relationship to other organisms. In this tutorial, we will consider what Darwin actually wrote about evolution and humanity, and compare that to how his ideas have been used, criticized, and adapted by others over the past 140 years. In particular, we will critically examine the influence of evolutionary ideas on four issues of enduring social importance: religious belief, race, gender and ethics.  Next offered: Unknown

BIO150 Introduction to Biological Inquiry -- Prairie Restoration

As a way to explore how biologists ask questions and develop answers to them, this class will focus on the biology of the prairie, considering both its history in North America and contemporary studies of prairie restoration. It will be taught in "workshop" format at Grinnell College's Conard Environmental Research Area (CERA), where we will use the prairie and savanna restorations there as our laboratory. You will be required to formulate research questions based on your reading of the literature, design experimental or observational studies to test your hypotheses, and report on their findings in written and oral forms.    Students in this course contribute to the web journal Tillers, which contains articles describing their investigations. Next offered Fall 2012.

BIO 252 -- Organisms, Evolution and Ecology

Investigations of the evolutionary causes and ecological consequences of organismal structure and function, including studies of why organisms acquire and expend energy, acquire and transport materials, regulate internal conditions, transmit information, reproduce, develop, grow, and move. Three lectures and one scheduled lab each week. Prerequisites: Biology 251, Mathematics 124 or 131.  Offered every Spring (but not this year by me).

Bio 240 -- Animal Behavior

Investigations of the causes, functions, and origins of animal behavior. We will use an evolutionary perspective to understand and integrate common behavioraladaptations, e.g., obtaining food, avoiding predators, living in groups, communicating, mating, and caring for offspring. Laboratory projects emphasize design, analysis, and communication of quantitative tests of hypotheses carried out in the lab and field. Three lectures and one scheduled
lab per week. Prerequisites: Bio 150. Next offered Spring 2011.

BIO 301:  History of Biological Thought

This seminar course will consider the history of ideas in the biological sciences. By examining primary and secondary texts, we'll address the hypothesis that biological theories emerge and change in a complex environment of empirical knowledge ("facts") and social/political conditions. The course will begin with a broad overview of the discipline by considering the growth of three fields: evolutionary biology, genetics and development. We will then examine developments of particular fields by reading a contemporary history of that field alongside excerpts from important primary texts. Possible topics include histories of biomedicine,  race, ecology, and genetics.  Next offered: Spring 2012.

BIO 373 -- Mechanisms of Evolution

This course examines the mechanisms of evolutionary change at both the micro- and macro-evolutionary scales. Topics include the maintenance of genetic variation, population structure and speciation, molecular evolution, systematic methods, biogeography, and macroevolution. 3 lecture/discussion and 1 lab meeting per week. Prerequisites: BIO 236 or permission of the instructor.  Next offered: Spring 2011


The study of biodiversity has historically been conducted within two disciplines, with community ecologists addressing the mechanisms that maintain diversity and evolutionary biologists addressing speciation and adaptation. The goal of my research has been to explore the intersection of these ecological and evolutionary frameworks. I express this goal in two fundamental questions:


A better understanding of diversity thus requires the application of both evolutionary and ecological methods. My research has focused on host- or habitat-association as a central factor in mediating the interaction between ecological and evolutionary processes in natural communities of arthropods, including North American moths, flies, and  damselflies and endemic Hawaiian flies. 

Publications (*Undergraduate research students) --
Please contact me if you don't have access to these journals

Mittelbach, G.G., D. Schemske, H.V. Cornell, A.P. Allen,. J. M. Brown, M.Bush, S.P. Harrison, A. Hurlbert, N. Knowlton, H. A. Lessios, C.M. McCain, A.R. McCune, L.A. McDade, M.A. McPeek, T.J. Near, T.D. Price, R.E. Ricklefs, K. Roy, D.F. Sax, D. Schluter, J.M. Sobel, M. Turelli.  2007.  Evolution and the latitudinal diversity gradient: Speciation, extinction, and biogeography.  Ecology Letters.

McPeek, M.A. and J.M. Brown.  2007. Clade age and not diversification rate explains species richness among animal taxa.  American Naturalist. 

Heard, S.B, J.O. Stireman, J.D. Nason, G.H. Cox, C. Kolacz, and J.M. Brown.  2006. On the elusiveness of enemy-free space:  Spatial, temporal, and host-plant-related variation in parasitoid attack rates on three gallmakers of goldenrods. Oecologia 150:421-434.        
Brown, J.M., M. Todd-Thompson*, A. McCord*, A. O’Brien*, and B. O’Fallon* 2006.  Phylogeny, host association, and wing pattern variation in the endemic Hawaiian tephritids (Tephritidae: Tephritini).  Instrumenta Biodiversitatis VII:1-16. 

Brown, J.M., and I. Cooper*. 2006. Evolution of wing pigmentation patterns in a tephritid gallmaker: divergence and hybridization.  Pp. 253-261 in Galling Arthropods and Their Associates – Ecology and Evolution, K. Ozaki, J. Yukawa, T. Ohgushi, and P.W. Price, eds.  Springer-Verlag, Tokyo. 

Turgeon, J. R. Stoks, R.A. Thum, J.M. Brown, and M.A. McPeek.  2005.  Simultaneous quaternary radiations of three damselfly clades across the Holarctic.  American Naturalist. 165:E78-107.

 McGranahan, D.A.*, S. Kuiper, and J.M. Brown. 2005. Temporal patterns in use of an Iowa woodlot during the autumn bird migration.  American Midland Naturalist 153:61-70.

Cooper*, I., E. Roeder*, and J.M. Brown. 2003. Arthropod response to burning and mowing in a reconstructed prairie.  Ecological Restoration 21:204-5.

Brown, J.M, M.A. McPeek, and M. May.  2000. A phylogenetic perspective on habitat shifts and diversity in the North American Enallagma damselflies. Systematic Biology 49:697-712.

McPeek, M.A. and J.M. Brown. 2000.  Building a regional species pool: Diversification of the Enallagma damselflies in eastern North American waters. Ecology 81: 904–920.

Drown*, D.M., and  J.M. Brown.  1998.  Molecular phylogeny of North American oak-galling Cynipini (Hymenoptera: Cynipidae) supports need for generic revision. Pp. 241-246.  The Biology of Gall-Inducing Arthropods (Csoka, G., W.J. Mattson, G.N. Stone and P.W. Price eds.). Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-199. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Research Station.

Faust*, L., and J.M. Brown.  1998.  Sexual selection via female choice in the gall-making fly Eurosta solidaginis Fitch (Diptera: Tephritidae). The Biology of Gall-Inducing Arthropods (Csoka, G., W.J. Mattson, G.N. Stone and P.W. Price eds.). Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-199. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Research Station.

Brown, J.M., J. Leebens-Mack, O. Pellmyr, J.N. Thompson, and R.G. Harrison. 1997. Phylogeography and host association in a pollinating seed parasite, Greya politella  (Lepidoptera: Prodoxidae). Molecular Ecology 6:215-224.

Pellmyr, O., J.N. Thompson, J. M. Brown and R.G. Harrison . 1996.  Evolution of pollination and mutualism in the yucca moth lineage.  American Naturalist 148:827-847.

Hess, M.D. W.G. Abrahamson and J.M. Brown. 1996.  Intraspecific larval competition in the herbivorous ball-gallmaker, Eurosta solidaginis (Diptera: Tephritidae). American Midland Naturalist 136:121-133.

McPeek, M.A., A. K. Schrot, and J. M. Brown.  1996.  Adaptation to predators in a new community: swimming performance and predator avoidance in damselflies.  Ecology 77:617-629.

Brown, J.M, W.G. Abrahamson and P.A. Way*. 1996.  mtDNA phylogeography of host races of the goldenrod ball gallmaker (Diptera: Tephritidae: Eurosta solidaginis).  Evolution 50:777-786.

Brown, J.M., W.G. Abrahamson, R. Packer*, and P.A. Way*.  1995. The role of enemy escape in a gallmaker host-plant shift.  Oecologia 104:52-60.

Brown, J.M., O. Pellmyr, J.N. Thompson, and R.G. Harrison. 1994. mtDNA phylogeny of the Prodoxidae (Lepidoptera: Incurvarioidea) indicates a rapid ecological diversification of the yucca moths.  Annals of the Entomological Society of America 87:795-802.

Brown, J.M., O. Pellmyr, J.N. Thompson, and R.G. Harrison. 1994.  Phylogeny of Greya (Lepidoptera:Prodoxidae) based on nucleotide sequence variation in cytochrome oxidase I and II: congruence with morphological data. Molecular Biology and Evolution 11:128-141.

Abrahamson, W.G. J.M. Brown, S.K. Roth, D.V. Sumerford, J.D. Horner, M.D. Hess, S.T. How, T.P. Craig, R.A. Packer*, and J.K. Itami. 1994.  Gallmaker speciation: an assessment of the roles of host-plant characters and phenology, gallmaker competition, and natural enemies.  In P. Price, W. Mattson, and Y. Baranchikov, eds. Gall-forming Insects.  USDA Forest Service, North Central Experiment Station. General Technical Report.  pp.  208-222.

Brown, J.M. and D.S. Wilson. 1994. Poecilochirus carabi:  Behavioral and life-history adaptations to different hosts and the consequences of geographical shifts in host communities.  pp. 1-22 in M. Houck, ed., Mites -- Ecological and Evolutionary Analyses of Life History Patterns. Chapman and Hall, New York.

Brown, J.M. and D.S. Wilson.  1992.  Local specialization on sympatric hosts: phoretic mites on carrion beetles. Ecology 73:463-478.


The best way to learn about ecology is to TAKE A FIELD COURSE!

Sources of grants for research:

Thinking of going to graduate school?  Here is some advice from Grinnell alums.

Professional societies I belong to:

Society for the Study of Evolution
Society for Conservation Biology
Society for Ecological Restoration
National Center for Science Education

Some other organizations I support:

The Nature Conservancy
Audubon Society
Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation
1000 Friends of Iowa

Current or past collaborators:

George Roderick
Don Price
Mark McPeek
Rick Harrison
Olle Pellmyr
John Thompson
David Sloan Wilson

Former research students (send me your links!):

Aksel Casson - University of Washington (Archaeology)
William Eichman -- ??
Josh Rehmann -- ??
Shira Peltan -- Northwestern Univ.  (Microbiology)
Zoe McKiness -- Harvard then USDA (Microbiology)
Lisa Faust -- Lincoln Park Zoo (Conservation Genetics)
Brendan O'Fallon -- University of Utah (Mathematical Biology)
Tor Janson -- Kansas State University (Landscape Architecture)
Devin Drown -- Washington State University (Ecology/Evolutionary Biology)
Idelle Cooper -- Indiana University -- Bloomington (Ecology/Evolutionary Biology)
Elizabeth Roeder Magden -- University of Colorado (Vet School)
Abby Laatsch -- Marine Biological Lab
Aleia McCord -- Swarthmore
Megan Todd-Thompson -- U. Tennessee -- Knoxville
Devan McGranahan -- Iowa State University
Anna Larimer -- Indiana University -- Bloomington (Ecology/Evolutionary Biology)
Chris Mitros -- University of Iowa (Medical School)
Hanghang Wang -- Dartmouth College (Medical School)
Jonathan Homans - somewhere in Alaska
Derrick Mitchell -- ??
Emma Meade -- Grinnell College

Personal interests:

I practice the Japanese martial art of aikido with the following dojos at Grinnell Aikido, University of Iowa AikikaiAikido of Hilo -- each these has links to info about this art

Jackie Brown's Plan (for Grinnellplans users)

Global Anti-Golf Movement -- read it and weep

The Daily Show -- the most I've laughed since Monty Python

Pubcrawler  -- think Global, drink local

Favorite Musicians:

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