Dr. Jay Curt Stager

Dr. Jay Curt Stager

Year Started at Paul Smith’s: 1987
Department:  Natural Sciences


I enjoy working with students, whether in the classroom, in the field/lab, or out and about in the community. Here are examples of projects that some of my students have undertaken in the past:

Thom Sanger: An unusually pristine Adirondack lake. (Guided Research, PSC, 1998).

Rebecca Anfang: Preliminary evidence of environmental changes at Lake Bambili (Cameroon, W. Africa) since 24,000 BP. (Guided Research, PSC, 1997. Published in JOPL, 1999).

Dustin Grzesik, Scott Haddam, Carlene Heimiller, Kristen Przywara: Sediment coring at Lakes Victoria & Nabugabo, East Africa. (NSF-funded expedition, 2000; Palaeo-3, 2005).

Jason Fitzpatrick: Sediment coring at Lake Sibayi, South Africa. (field research funded by NSF, with S.A.Council for Geosciences; 2003).

Jerome Madson: Coring at Lakes Sibaya and Fundudzi, South Africa. (field research funded by NSF, with S.A.Council for Geosciences, 2004, with Matt Hazzard; Senior Capstone, PSC, 2005).

Dan DeSorcy: Documenting Adirondack Heritage Lakes (Senior Capstone, Spring, 2007).

Brendan Wiltse: Paleolimnological study of Lake George, NY. (Senior Capstone, Spring, 2007).

Jay White: LOI Analysis of Sediment Cores from Verlorenvlei, South Africa (Senior capstone, Fall, 2010)

Skylar Murphy: A 13,000 year history of fire and vegetation from the Albany Pine Bush (Albany, NY).(Senior capstone, Fall 2022).

Interests and Activities

Using sediment cores from lakes to investigate ecological changes over thousands of years, particularly with respect to environments and human history in Africa, Peru, and the Adirondacks. But I’m also interested in most aspects of the natural sciences, ranging from coral reef ecology and archaeology to climate change monitoring and bee behavior. I enjoy playing a wide range of guitar and banjo music styles, from traditional Irish and old-time to blues, bluegrass, rock, classical, and experimental (video of playing “Blackbird” for a feathered friend). I’ve been running bi-weekly Open Mics on campus since 1989 (Thursday nights in the Saint Regis Lounge, 8-10 PM), and I co-hosted “Natural Selections,” a weekly science program on North Country Public Radio from 1989 to 2021. When the snow in the woods is good (and especially when the sun is shining), I enjoy back-country skiing.

Courses Taught

BIO 101 Introductory Biology
BIO 320 Evolution
BIO 472 Paleoecology
ENV 362 The Science of Climate Change

Academic Background

2013 Carnegie-Case Foundation Science Professor of the Year, for New York state
1985 PhD Duke University Zoology & Geology
1979 BA Bowdoin College Biology & Geology
Draper-Lussi Endowed Chair in Lake Ecology and Paleoecology

Publications (*asterisk indicates student co-author)

2022         Stager, J.C., B. Wiltse, and S. Murphy*. Once and future changes in climate and phenology within the Adirondack uplands (New York, USA). PLOS Climate https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pclm.0000047

2022         Njagi, D.M., J. Routh, M. Odhiambo, C. Luo, L.G. Basapuram, D. Olago, V. Klump, and J.C. Stager. A century of human-induced environmental changes and the combined roles of nutrients and land use in the Lake Victoria catchment on eutrophication. Sci. Total Envir. 835: 155425. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.155425.

2022         Stager, J.C., D. Fadden, and C.B. Wolff. Dugout canoes from lakes of the Adirondack uplands. Adirondack J. Envir. Studies 25, Article 3. https://digitalworks.union.edu/ajes/vol25/iss1/3/

2021         Stager J.C., B. Wiltse, B.F. Cumming, T.C. Messner, J. Robtoy*, and S. Cushing*. Hydroclimatic and cultural instability in northeastern North America during the last millennium. PLoS ONE 16: e0248060. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0248060

2020         Stager J.C., L. Harvey*, and S. Chimileski. Long-term cultural eutrophication in White and Walden Ponds (Concord, Massachusetts, USA), Thoreau’s lakes of light. Lake Res. Management 37: 2-18. https://doi.org/10.1080/10402381.2020.1839606

2020         Kornecki, K., M. S. Schuler, M.E. Katz, R. Relyea, F.M.G. McCarthy, M.F. Schaller, D.P. Gilliken, J.C. Stager, C.W. Boylen, L.W. Eichler, and S.A. Nierzwicki-Bauer. The canary in the coal mine: testate amoebae record anthropogenic impacts in sediments of oligotrophic Lake George, NY, USA. J. Foraminiferal Research 50: 128-140.

2019         Grochocki, K., C. Lane, and J.C. Stager. An 1800-year record of environmental change from the southern Adirondack Mountains, NY (USA). J. Paleolimnol. 62: 301-314

2019         Rechlin, M., C. Laxson, C. Milewski, and C. Stager. Environmental history of Lower St. Regis Lake: Degradation and the path to ecological redemption. Adirondack J. Envir. Studies 23: 81-99.

2019         Norton, S.A., A. Amirbahman, L. Bacon, H.A. Ewing, M. Novak, A. Nurse, M. Retelle, J. Curt Stager, and M. Yates. Chemical, biological, and trophic status of temperate lakes can be strongly influenced by the presence of late-glacial marine sediments. Lake Res. Management. doi.org/10.1080/10402381.2019.1669747.

2019         Stager, J.C., B. Wiltse, B. Cumming, T. Holsen, J. Stetler, C. Laxson, C. Marcillo, and D. Charles. A novel ecological state at Bear Pond (Adirondack Mountains, NY, USA) following acidification and partial recovery. Lake Res. Management 35: 208-223.

2019         Norton, S.A., A. Amirbahman, L. Bacon, H.A. Ewing, M. Novak, A. Nurse, M. Retelle, J. Curt Stager, and M. Yates. Chemical, biological, and trophic status of temperate lakes can be strongly influenced by the presence of late-glacial marine sediments. Lake Res. Management doi.org/10.1080/10402381.2019.1669747.

2019         Rechlin, M., C. Laxson, C. Milewski, and C. Stager. Environmental history of Lower St. Regis Lake: Degradation and the path to ecological redemption. Adirondack J. Envir. Studies 23: 81-99.

2019         Press, D., C. Stager, and E. Cummings. Walden: The graphic novel.

2018         Stager, J.C., B. Wiltse, J.B. Hubeny, E. Yankowski*, D. Nardelli*, and R. Primack. Climate variability and cultural eutrophication at Walden Pond (Massachusetts, USA) during the last 1750 years. PLOS ONE 13(4): e0191755.

2018         Muschik, M., J.M. Russell, E. Jemmi, J. Walker, K.M. Stewart, A.M. Murray, N. Dubois, J.C. Stager, T.C. Johnson, and O. Seehausen.  Arrival order and release from competition does not explain why haplochromine cichlids radiated in Lake Victoria.  Proc. Royal Soc. B, doi: 10.1098/rspb.2018.0462.

2018       Stager, J.C. Still Waters: The Secret World of Lakes. W.W. Norton.

2018       Stager, J.C., K. Alton*, C.H. Martin, D.T. King, Jr., L.W. Petruny, and D.A. Livingstone. On the age and origin of Lake Ejagham, Cameroon, and its endemic fishes. Quat. Res. 89: 21-32.

2017       Stager, J.C. Hidden Heritage. Adirondack Life (March/April), pp. 54-66.

2017       Pausata, F.S.R., K.A. Emmanuel, M. Chiacchio, G.T. Diro, Q. Zhang, L. Sushama, J.C. Stager, and J.P. Donnely. Tropical cyclone activity enhanced by Sahara greening and reduced dust emissions during the African Humid Period. PNAS 114: 6221-6226.

2017       Pausata, F.S.R., Q. Zhang, F. Muschitiello, Z. Lu, L. Chafik, E.M. Niedermeyer, J.C. Stager, K.M. Cobb, and Z. Liu. Greening of the Sahara suppressed ENSO variability during the Mid-Holocene. Nature (Communications) doi:10.1038/ncomms16020.

2017       Stager, J.C. What the Muck of Walden Pond Tells Us About Our Planet. The New York Times. (Jan. 7).

2017       Stager, J.C. Sowing Climate Doubt Among Schoolteachers. The New York Times. (April 27).

2016       Stager, J.C., B.F. Cumming, K. Laird, A. Garrigan-Piela, N. Pederson, B. Wiltse, C.S. Lane, J. Nester, and A. Ruzmaikin.  A 1600 year record of hydroclimate from Wolf Lake, N.Y. The Holocene doi: 10.1177/0959683616658527.

2016       Stager, J.C. Climate change in the Age of Humans. Ch. 1 in (Sample, V.A., R.P. Bixler, and C. Miller, eds.) Forest Conservation in the Anthropocene. University Press of Colorado.

2015       Chase, B., … J.C. Stager, et al. Evolving southern hemisphere response to abrupt deglacial North Atlantic climate change events. Quat. Internat.121: 132-136.

2015       Stager, J.C. Tales of a Warmer Planet. The New York Times. (Nov. 28).

2015       Stager, J.C., L.A. Sporn, M. Johnson, and S. Regalado*. Of paleo-genes and perch: What if an “alien” is actually a native? PLOS ONE doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0119071.

2014       Stager, J.C. Your Atomic Self: the Invisible Elements That Connect You To Everything Else In The Universe. Thomas Dunne Books.

2013       Pinet, P.R., E.K. Pikitch, and J.C. Stager. The ongoing extinction event: A deep-time, eco-evolutionary perspective for mitigation and reconciliation management. In (A.M. Marinov and C.A. Brebbia, editors) Ecosystems and Sustainable Development. WIT Press. 10.2495/ECO130061

2013       Stager, J.C., Ryves, D., King, C., Madson*, J., Hazzard*, M., Neumann, F., and Maud, R. Late Holocene precipitation variability in the summer rainfall region of South Africa. Quat. Sci. Rev. 67: 105-120.

2013       Stager, J.C. You are made of waste. (with artist Yuko Shimizu) Nautilus (Nov. 7). www.nautil.us/issue/7/waste/you-are-made-of-waste.

2012       Stager, J.C. What happens after global warming? Nature (Education) 3(3):7.

2012       Stager, J.C., P.A. Mayewski, J. White*, B.M. Chase, F. Neumann, M.E. Meadows, C. King*, and D. Dixon. Precipitation variability in the winter rainfall zone of South Africa during the last 1400 years linked to the austral westerlies. Climate of the Past 8: 877-887.

2012       Mayewski, P.A.,… J.C. Stager,.. et al. West Antarctica’s sensitivity to natural and human forced climate change over the Holocene. Jour. Quat. Sci. ISSN 0267-8179. DOI: 10.1002/jqs.2593.

2011       Stager, J.C. Deep Future: The Next 100,000 Years of Life on Earth. (Thomas Dunne Books; Harper Collins Canada; Scribe; Duckworth)

2011       Stager, J.C., D.B. Ryves, B.M. Chase, and F.S.R. PausataCatastrophic drought in the Afro-Asian monsoon region during Heinrich Event 1. Science 331: 129-132.

2011       Wiltse, B.*, and J.C. Stager. A Paleolimnological Record from Lake George, New York. Adirondack Jour. Envir. Stud. (volume 16) www.ajes.org/v16/wiltse2010.php.

2010       Stager, C., and M. Thill. Climate Change in the Champlain Basin: What natural resource managers can expect and do. Peer-reviewed report for The Nature Conservancy.

2010       Poleva, S., F., M. Tekleva, F.H,. Neumann, L. Scott, and J.C. Stager. Pollen morphology, ultrastructure and taphonomy of the Neuradaceae with special reference to Neurada procumbens L. and Grielum humifusum EMey.ex Harv.et Sond. Rev. Palaeobot. Palynol. 160: 163-171.

2010       Stager, J.C., F. Neumann, B. Chase, M. Meadows, J. Fitzpatrick*, M. Hazzard*, C. King*, J. Madson*, J. White* Late Holocene paleoclimate records from Lakes Sibaya and Verlorenvlei, South Africa. Geophysical Research Abstracts, vol. 12, EGU2010-1386-1.

2009       Stager, J. C., C. Cocquyt, R. Bonnefille, C. Weyhenmeyer, and N. Bowerman*A late Holocene paleoclimatic history of Lake Tanganyika, East Africa. Quat. Res. 72: 47-56.

2009       Stager, J.C., R.E. Hecky, B. Cumming, D. Grzesik*, and H. Kling. Diatom evidence for the timing and causes of eutrophication in Lake Victoria, East Africa. Hydrobiologia 636: 463-478.

2009       Stager, J.C., S. McNulty, C. Beier, and J. Chiarenzelli. Historical patterns and effects of changes in Adirondack climates since the early 20th century. Adirondack Jour. Envir. Stud. 15: 15-24.

2008       Neumann, F., C. Stager, L. Scott, H.J.T. Venter, and C. Weyhenmeyer. Holocene vegetation and climate records from Lake Sibaya, KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa). Rev. Palaeobot. Palynol. 152: 113-128.

2008       Stager, J.C. The Red Tavern: one of the last backcountry roadhouses. Adirondack Life (March/April), pp. 16-21.

2007       Stager, J.C., A. Ruzmaikin, D. Conway, P. Verburg, and P.J. MasonSolar variability, ENSO, and the levels of Lake Victoria, East Africa. Jour. Geophys. Res. 112: D15106, doi: 10.1029/2006JD008362.

2007       Felton, A.A., …. and J. C. Stager. Paleolimnological evidence for the onset and termination of glacial aridity from Lake Tanganyika, East Africa. Palaeo-3 doi:10.1016/j/palaeo.2007.04.003

2007       Stager, J.C., and T.C. Johnson. The late Pleistocene desiccation of Lake Victoria and the origin of its endemic biota. Hydrobiologia 596: doi:10.1007/210750-007-9158-2.

2006       Stager, J.C. Wild cats of the Adirondacks (“Meow Mix”). Adirondack Life (March/April), pp. 58-64.

2006       Stager, J.CClearwater Revival: Giving credence to the idea of a pristine pond. Adirondack Life (May/June), pp.14-20.

2006       Langen, T.A., …J.C. Stager… and B.T. Green. Environmental impacts of winter road management at the Cascade Lakes and Chapel Pond. Final report, prepared for the NYS Department of Transportation, Albany, NY. Clarkson Center for the Environment Report No. 1.

2005       Stager, J.C., J. Westwood*, D. Grzesik*, and B.F. Cumming. A 5500 year environmental history of Lake Nabugabo, Uganda. Palaeo-3 218: 347-354.

2005       Maasch, K., Mayewski, P.A., Rohling, E., Stager, C., Karlén, K., Meeker, L.D., and E. Meyerson. Climate of the past 2000 years, Geografiska Annaler 87A: 7-15.

2005       Stager, J.C., D. Ryves, B.F. Cumming, L.D. Meeker, and J. Beer. Solar variability and the levels of Lake Victoria, East Africa, during the last millennium. J. Paleolimnol. 33: 243-251.

2004       Mayewski, P.A., E. Rohling, J.C. Stager, and 13 others. Holocene climate variability. Quat. Res. 62: 243-255.

2004       Stager, J.C., J.J. Day, and S. Santini. Comment on “Origin of the superflock of cichlid fishes from Lake Victoria, East Africa.” Science 304: 963.

2003       Stager, J.C., B. Cumming, and L.D. Meeker. A 10,200 year high-resolution diatom record from Pilkington Bay, Lake Victoria, Uganda. Quat. Res. 59: 172-181.

2003       Stager, J.C., and T. Sanger*.  An Adirondack “Heritage Lake.” Adirondack Jour. Envir. Stud. 10: 6-10.

2003       Scholz, C.A., King, J.W., Ellis, G.S., Swart, P.K., Stager, J.C., and S.M. Colman. Paleolimnology of Lake Tanganyika, East Africa, over the past 100 kyr. Jour. Paleolimnol. 30: 139-150.

2002       Stager, J.C., P.A. Mayewski, and L.D. Meeker. Cooling cycles, Heinrich Event 1, and the desiccation of Lake Victoria. Palaeo-3: 183: 169-178.

2002       Stager, J.C. and M.R. Martin. Global climate change and the Adirondacks. Adirondack Jour. Envir. Stud. 9: 1-10.

2001       Stager, J.C.  Did reclamation pollute Black Pond? Adirondack Jour. Envir. Stud. 8: 22-27.

2001       Stager, J.C. Climatic change and African rain forests in the 21st century. Chapter 9 in W. Weber, L.J.T. White, A. Vedder, and L. Naughton-Treves (eds.) African Rain Forest Ecology and Conservation, Yale University Press.

2000       Stager, J.C., and T. JohnsonA 12,400 year offshore diatom record from Lake Victoria, East Africa. J. Paleolimnol. 23:373-383.

1999       Stager, J.C., and R. Anfang*. Preliminary evidence of environmental changes at Lake Bambili (Cameroon, West Africa) since 24,000 BP. Jour. Paleolimnol. 22:319-330.

1998       Stager, J.C. Field Notes from the Northern Forest. Syracuse University Press.

1998       Stager, J.C., J. Hunter*, and J. van Benschoten*. A paleolimnological history of Long Pond, Franklin, County, NY. (A.C. Walker Foundation Research Series).

1998       Beuning, K.R.M., K. Kelts, and J.C. Stager.  Abrupt climatic changes associated with the arid Younger Dryas Interval in Africa. pp. 147-156 in Environmental Change and Response in East African Lakes. Kluwer.

1998       Stager, J.C. Ancient analogues for recent environmental changes at Lake Victoria, East Africa. pp. 37-46 in Environmental Change and Response in East African Lakes. Kluwer.

1998       Stager, J.C., M. DeAngelo, and J. Swartz*A paleolimnological investigation of Black Pond, Franklin County, NY. (A.C. Walker Foundation Research Series)

1997       Stager, J.C., B. Cumming, and L.D. MeekerAn 11,400-year, high-resolution diatom record from Lake Victoria, East Africa. Quat. Res. 47: 81-89.

1997       Stager, J.C., P.R. Leavitt, and S. Dixit. Assessing impacts of past human activity on water quality in Upper Saranac Lake, NY. Lake Reserv. Man. 13: 175-184.

1997       Stager, J.C., and P.A. Mayewski. Abrupt early mid-Holocene climatic transition registered at the equator and the poles. Science 276: 1834-1836.

1996       Stager, J.C. Update on the ecological condition of Adirondack lakes. Wild Earth, 29-33.

1996       Stager, J.C., and V. Chen*Fossil evidence of shell length decline in Queen Conch (Strombus gigas L.) at Middleton Cay, Turks and Caicos Islands, British West Indies. Carib. Jour. Sci. 32: 14-20.

1995       Stager, J.C. Adirondack butterflies. Adirondac (July/August), pp. 12-14.

1995       Stager, J.C. Stronger than dirt: How duff-munching worms are changing the Adirondack woods. Adirondack Life (March/April) pp. 14-16.

1994       Stager, J.C. Just do it! A research based approach to introductory biology laboratory. Jour. Coll. Sci. Teach. 24: 91-93.

1994       Stager, J.C. Investigating Adirondack lakes. Adirondack Jour. Environ. Stud. 1: 30-34.

1994       Martin, M.R., and J.C. StagerAssessing the human impact on lakes using sediment analyses. Lake Reserv. Man. 9: 95-96.

1992       Stager, J.C. Simple gravity corer suitable for educators. Jour. Paleolimnol. 7:253 255.

1992       Stager, J.C., and L.B. Cahoon. Distribution of benthic microalgae, pigments, and phosphate in Lake Waccamaw, North Carolina. Jour. Elisha Mitchell Sci. Soc. 108: 117 126.

1990       Stager, J.C. Africa’s Great Rift Valley. National Geographic 177: 2-41.

1990       Cahoon, L.B., J.R. Kucklick, and J.C. Stager. A natural phosphate source for Lake Waccamaw, North Carolina, USA. Int. Rev. ges Hydrobiol. 75: 339 351.

1990       Maley, J., … Stager, J.C., … Zogning, A. (13 authors). Lithostratigraphy, volcanism, paleomagnetism, and palynology of Quaternary deposits from Barombi Mbo (West Cameroon): preliminary results. Jour. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res. 42:319-335.

1988       Stager, J.C. Environmental changes at Lake Cheshi, Zambia, since 40,000 years B.P. Quat. Res. 29:54 65. (doctoral dissertation)

1987       Stager, J.C. Silent Death From Cameroon’s Killer Lake. National Geographic 172: 404-420.

1987       Stager, J.C., and L.B. Cahoon. The age and trophic history of Lake Waccamaw, N.C. Jour. Elisha Mitchell Sci. Soc. 103: 1-13.

1986       Stager, J.C., P.R. Reinthal, and D.A. Livingstone. A 25,000 year history for Lake Victoria, East Africa, and some comments on its significance for the evolution of cichlid fishes. Freshw. Biol. 16: 15-19.

1985       Lundberg, J.G., and J.C. StagerMicrogeographic diversity in the neotropical knife fish Eigenmannia macrops (Gymnotiformes, Sternopygidae). Envir. Biol. Fish. 13 :173 181.

1984       Stager, J.C. The diatom record of Lake Victoria (East Africa): the last 17,000 years. pp. 455 476, In: D.G. Mann, (ed.), Proc. Seventh Int. Symp. on Living and Fossil Diatoms, Philadelphia. Koeltz, Koenigstein.


Relevant Work Experience

  • 2011 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Invited Expert Reviewer (Paleoclimate Chapter)
  • 2003 University of Arizona & Tanzania. Faculty: The Nyanza Project: Paleolimnology instructor in summer field course on Lake Tanganyika, Tanzania.
  • 2002-present Climate Change Institute, University of Maine, Orono. Adjunct Professor. Current focus: tropical climate changes of the last millennium.
  • 1998-1999 Paul Smith’s College. Acting Assistant Dean, Science/Liberal Arts Division
  • 1994-1995 Hog Island, Maine. Instructor; National Audubon Society Ecology Camp
  • 1992 South Caicos Island, Bahamas. Instructor, Coral Reef Management. School for Field Studies.
  • 1991-present St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY. Researcher and co-host of Natural Selections (formerly “Field Notes”), broadcast weekly on NCPR (www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/natural.php)
  • 1989, 1990 University of North Carolina, Wilmington. Summer Ventures Program, field research for gifted high school youths.
  • 1987-present Paul Smith’s College.Professor, Natural Sciences.
  • 1985-1986 University of North Carolina, Wilmington. Instructor; Marine Biology 362, Quaternary Studies (graduate level).
  • 1985 Duke University & Cameroon. Post-doctoral research associate: Limnology and sediment coring of Cameroon crater lakes.


1997         A.C. Walker Foundation  ($2,000). Lead-210 dating of a sediment core from Long Pond, Adirondack Park, New York.

1998         National Science Foundation ($60,000; ATM- 9808972),  A 9,000 year diatom record of  climate fluctuations from Lake Victoria, East Africa, with decade-scale resolution.

1999         National Science Foundation, Supplement ($15,040), Sediment coring and geological sampling at Lake Victoria, Uganda; National Science Foundation.

1999         National Science Foundation R.E.U.Supplement ($17,000), Student research at Lake Victoria, Uganda.

2001         National Science Foundation ($147,400; ATM-0117170), Sediment records of  environmental changes at Lake Victoria, East Africa, during the past millennium, with decade-scale resolution.

2004         National Science Foundation ($299,964; ATM-0401845) Late Holocene geo-biologic records of climate changes at Lake Tanganyika, East Africa, with seasonal to decadal resolution.

2006         National Geographic Society ($20,000; #8040-06) ENSO History derived from Peruvian sediment cores.

2008         National Science Foundation ($334,246; EAR-0822922)  High-resolution sediment records of late Holocene paleohydrology from the summer and winter rainfall regions of South Africa.

2013         National Science Foundation ($278,784; Paleoclimate): High-resolution sediment records of hydrological variability in the northeastern United States during the last millennium.

Dr. Jay Curt Stager

Contact »

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(518) 327-6342