Stephen R. Carpenter, Ph.D.


Stephen R. Carpenter, Ph.D.
Stephen Carpenter
Stephen Alfred Forbes Professor of Limnology
University of Wisconsin, Center for Limnology
680 North Park Street
City, State, ZIP
Madison, Wisconsin 53706
[email protected]
Award year


Project Details

The Ecology, Economics, and Management Process for Nonpoint Pollution

Carpenter dedicated his Pew Fellowship to a major outreach program on nonpoint pollution of surface waters which involves several initiatives. The first has been a review of the natural science of nonpoint pollution and an economic analysis showing that phosphorous input targets should be reduced substantially below targets calculated by current standard models in order to achieve maximum economic benefit of watershed management. The results of the natural science review have been published and distributed in a technical report, a popular article and a color brochure.

Carpenter also has developed computer games to teach citizens about the ecology, economics and management process for nonpoint pollution. Part of the research to create the games included a detailed analysis of the phosphorous cycle of Lake Mendota and its watershed which provides background data for the computer simulations.

Carpenter also calculated a phosphorous budget for global agriculture which shows that overfertilization has increased phosphorous content of the world's agricultural soils by about 25 percent since 1960. This has devastating consequences for the water quality of lakes, reservoirs, rivers and estuaries. Carpenter's goal has been to use these data to publicize the implications for water quality globally.

During his fellowship, Carpenter launched the journal Ecosystems which is produced in collaboration with the Ecological Society of America, to communicate to a larger audience the values, functions and interactions of ecosystems. He also leveraged additional funding of $2.5 million from the National Science Foundation in a five-year grant to launch a major training program integrating social and natural sciences for sustainable management of freshwater systems.


Stephen Carpenter's primary issue area is freshwater ecosystem management. His recent work has focused on the economic and ecological feedback between humans and the world's watersheds. In particular, he has found that present ecosystem management of lake districts incorporates little explicit economic information about the environmental consequences of human actions.

Carpenter was a leader in the effort to develop a National Center for Ecological Synthesis which opened in 1995 in California. The center takes existing data needed for conservation and management decisions and converts the information into usable forms for sound, science-based policy development.


University of Wisconsin Faculty Page

Online article: Resilience and Restoration of Lakes

North Temperate Lakes LTER

Millennium Ecosystem Assessmen

Resilience Alliance



Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison
1979: Botany, Oceanography, and Limnology, Wisconsin, USA

Masters of Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison
1976: Botany, Wisconsin, USA

Bachelor of Arts, Amherst College
1974: Biology, Massachusetts, USA


Ecological Society of America
1998-Present: Member, Awards Committee

1997-Present: Co-Editor-in-Chief

Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, Stockholm, Member, Science Council, Conservation Ecology Program to Link Leaders in Ecology, Business and Policy

Ecological Society of America, Conservation Ecology
1995-Present: Editorial Board

Ecological Society of America, Ecological Issues
1995-Present: Editorial Board

Oceanography and Limnology Program
1998-2002: Associate Chair

National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis
1995-1998: Science Advisory Board

ICSU/SCOPE Global Biodiversity Assessment, Freshwater Committee
1993-1995: Chair

National Research Council, U.S. National Committee for SCOPE
1993-1995: Member

Ecological Society of America
1993-1995: Member, Committee on Ecosystem Management

Ecology and Systematics
1993-1994: Editorial Board of Annual Review

National Science Foundation, Advisory Panel for the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, Freshwater Committee
1994: Member

Central European University, Budapest, Hungary, Academic Advisory Board, Graduate Center in Ecological and Environmental Sciences
1990-1993: Member

Ecological Applications
1989-1992: Editorial Board

National Science Foundation, Advisory Panel for Ecosystem Studies Program
1989-1992: Member

National Research Council, Committee on Restoration of Aquatic Systems: Science, Technology and Public Policy
1989-1991: Member

National Academy of Science, Working Group on Ecosystem Effects, Committee on Global Change
1990-1991: Member


Graduate School Kellett Mid-Career Award
1999: University of Wisconsin-Madison

Hutchinson Medal
1999: American Society of Limnology and Oceanography

Per Brinck Award in Limnology
1996: Lund University, Sweden

Marine Fellow
1995: Pew Fellows Program in Conservation and the Environment

Top 10 Research Paper
1992: Science Watch


American Society of Limnology and Oceanography

British Ecological Society

Ecological Society of America

North American Lake Management Society


  • Core Writing Team (including S.R. Carpenter). 2005. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Synthesis Report: A Report of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. (online at:
  • Bennett, E.M. T. Reed-Andersen, J.N. Houser, J.R. Gabriel, and S.R. Carpenter. 1999. A phosphorous budget for the Lake Mendota watershed. Ecosystems 2:69-75
  • Bennett, E.M., T. Reed-Anderson, J.N. Houser, J.R. Gabriel and S.R. Carpenter. 1999. A phosphorous budget for the Lake Mendota watershed. Ecosystems 2:69-75
  • Carpenter, S., W. Brock and P. Hanson. 1999. Ecological and social dynamics in simple models of ecosystem management. Conservation Ecology 3(2): 4
  • Carpenter, S., W. Brock, and P. Hanson. 1999. Ecological and social dynamics in simple models of ecosystem management. (
  • Carpenter, S.R., D. Ludwig and W.A. Brock. 1999. Management of eutrophication for lakes subject to potentially irreversible change. Ecological Applications 9(3): 71-771
  • Wilson, M.A. and S.R. Carpenter. 1999. Economic Valuation of freshwater ecosystem services in the United States, 1977-1997. Ecological Applications 9(3): 772-783
  • Carpenter, S.R. 1998. Ecosystem ecology: Integrated physical, chemical and biological processes. Ecology. Oxford University Press
  • Carpenter, S.R., N.F. Caraco, D.L. Correll, R.W. Howarth, A.N. Sharpley and V.H. Smith. 1998. Nonpoint pollution of surface waters with phosphorous and nitrogen. Ecological Applications 8:559-568
  • Lathrop, R.C., S.R. Carpenter, C.A. Stow, P.A. Soranno and J.C. Panuska. 1998. Phosphorus loading reductions needed to control blue-green algal blooms in Lake Mendota. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
  • Carpenter, S.R. and K.L. Cottingham. 1997. Resilience and restoration of lakes. Conservation Ecology
  • Carpenter, S.R. and T. Reed. 1997. Integrating salmon, trees and people. Ecological Economics 23:184-185
  • Postel, S. and S.R Carpenter. 1997. Freshwater ecosystem services. In: Nature's Services (G. Daily ed.). Island Press, Washington, D.C.
  • Soranno, P.A., S.R. Carpenter and R.C. Lathrop. 1997. Internal phosphorous loading in Lake Mendota: Response to external loads and weather. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 54:1883-1893
  • Wilson, M.S. and S.R. Carpenter. 1999. 1997. Economic valuation of freshwater ecosystem services in the United States, 1977-1997. Ecological Applications 9(3): 772-783
  • Carpenter, S.R., T. Frost, L. Peterson, M. Power and D. Soto. 1994. Freshwater ecosystems: Linkages of complexity and processes. In: Functional Roles of Biodiversity: A Global Perspective (H. Mooney et al. ed.). John Wiley and Sons, New York

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