Bonnie F. Jacobs

Emeritus Professor





Ph.D., Arizona
  • Palynology
  • Paleobotany
  • Paleoclimate
  • Paleoecology

Courses Taught

GEOL 1315 - Intro to Environmental Science 
GEOL 7350 - Biogeography
GEOL/BIOL 3307 - Ecology
GEOL 5368/7370 - Paleoecology
GEOL 1301 - Earth Systems

Related Links

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Research Statement

Climate is the main determinant of plant geography and leaf morphology. Therefore, fossil plants can be used to understand past climate, which is essential for the testing of climate models used to create scenarios of future climate change. Moreover, the foundation of nearly every ecosystem on Earth is plants, which supply energy derived from the sun to all other life, resulting in a close ecological link between flora and fauna, and knowledge of the former sheds light on the food resources and habitat of the latter. Equally as important, fossil plants provide tangible evidence of how and where our current flora evolved.
My research centers on paleobotany, the study of fossil plants, ranging in size from microscopic cells to macroscopic leaves, fruits, seeds and wood. Within paleobotany, I am pursuing several research questions, all united by a broad research interest in past climate and paleoecology. Paleoclimate and climate change are directly relevant to environments of human evolution, and tied closely to the evolution of plants and biomes. Research projects have included field work in Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and in the U. S., Texas, and New Mexico.

Selected Publications

2019: *Friðgeir Grímsson, Graham, S.A., Coiro, M., Jacobs, B.F., Xafis, A., Neumann, F. H., Scott, L., Sakala, J., Currano, E. D., Zetter, R. Origin and divergence of Afro-Indian Picrodendraceae: linking pollen morphology, dispersal modes, fossil records, molecular dating and paleogeography. Grana 58(4): 227-275.

2019: Rasmussen, D., Friscia, A., Gutierrez, M., Kappelman, J., Miller, E., Muteti, S., Reynoso, D., Rossie, J., Spell, T., Tabor, N., Gierlowski-Kordesch, E., Jacobs, B., Kyongo, B., Macharwas, M., Muchemi, F. A primitive Old World monkey from the earliest Miocene of Kenya and the evolution of cercopithecoid bilophodonty. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

2018 Grímsson, Friðgeir, Jacobs, Bonnie, van Valkenburg, Johan L.C.H., Wieringa, Jan J., Xafis, Alexandros, Tabor, Neil, Pan Aaron D., Zetter, Reinhard. Sclerosperma fossils from the late Oligocene of Chilga, north-western Ethiopia, Grana, DOI: 10.1080/00173134.2018.1510977.

2018 Grímsson, Friðgeir, van Valkenburg, Johan L.C.H., Wieringa, Jan J., Xafis, Alexandros, Jacobs, Bonnie, Zetter, Reinhard. Pollen morphology of the African Sclerosperma (Arecaceae), Grana, DOI: 10.1080/00173134.2018.1519033.

2017 Tesfamichael, T., Jacobs, B.F., Tabor, N., Michel, L., Currano, E., Feseha, M., Barclay, R., Kappelman, J., and Schmitz, M. Settling the issue of "decoupling" between atmospheric carbon dioxide and global temperature: [CO2]atm reconstructions across the warming Paleogene-Neogene divide. Geology 45 (11): 999-1002. doi:10.1130/G39048.1.

2017 Bush, R., Wallace, J., Currano, E.D., Jacobs, B.F., McInerney, F.A., Dunn, R.E., Tabor, N.J.  Leaf δ13C and cell anatomy reveal shading and canopy structure in a Miocene forest from Ethiopia. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 485: 593–604.

2017 Global climatic drivers of leaf size. Wright, I.J., Dong, N., Maire, V., Prentice, I.C., Westoby, M., Díaz, S., Gallagher, R.V., Jacobs, B.F., Kooyman, R., Law, E.A., Leishman, M.R., Niinemets, U., Reich, P.B., Sack, L., Villar, R., Wang, H., Wilf, P. Science 357: 917–921.

2017 Sánchez Goñi, M.F. et al. The ACER pollen and charcoal database: a global resource to document vegetation and fire response to abrupt climate changes during the last glacial period.  Earth Syst. Sci. Data 9: 679–695.

2017 Gulbranson, Erik L., Jacobs, B.F., Hockaday, W. C., Wiemann, M. C., Michel, L.A., Richards, K., and Kappelman, J.W. Nitrogen-fixing symbiosis inferred from stable isotope analysis of fossil tree rings, Oligocene, Ethiopia. Geology 45: 687-690. doi:10.1130/G39213.1.

2016 Xing, Yaowu, Maria A Gandolfo, Renske E Onstein, David J Cantrill, Bonnie F Jacobs, Gregory J Jordan, Svetlana Popova, Rashmi Srivastava, Sergey V Vikulin, Atsushi Yabe, and H.Peter Linder. Testing the biases in the rich Cenozoic angiosperm macrofossil record.  International Journal of Plant Sciences 177: 371-388.

2015 Engel, M., Currano, E., and Jacobs, B. The first mastotermitid termite from Africa (Isoptera: Mastotermitidae): A new species of Mastotermes from the early Miocene of Ethiopia. Journal of Paleontology 89: 1038-1042.

2015 Colleary, C., Dolocan, A., Gardner, J., Singh, S., Wuttke, M.,  Rabenstein, R., Habersetzer, J., Schaal, S., Feseha, M., Clemens, M., Jacobs, B., Currano, E.D.,  Jacobs, L.L., Lyng Sylvestersen, R.,  Gabbott, S.E., and Vinther, J. Chemical, experimental, and morphological evidence for diagenetically altered melanin in exceptionally preserved fossils. PNAS 112: 12592–12597.

2014 Pan, A., Jacobs. B.F., and Currano, E.D. Dioscoreaceae fossils from the late Oligocene and early Miocene of Ethiopia. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. 175: 17-28.

2013 Engel, M., Pan, A.D. and Jacobs, B.F. A termite from the Late Oligocene of northern Ethiopia.  Acta Palaeontologica Polonica. 58: 331–334.

Bonnie jacobs