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William Parton

William Parton

Professor Emeritus, Department of Forest Rangeland and Watershed Stewardship, Colorado State University


Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory
Colorado State University
1499 Campus Delivery
Fort Collins, CO 80523-1499


  • Senior Global Futures Fellow, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory
  • Professor Emeritus, Department of Forest Rangeland and Watershed Stewardship, Colorado State University


Dr. Bill Parton’s primary research activities center around the study of greenhouse gas emissions, predictive modeling to help stakeholders (i.e. ranchers and farmers) make informed decisions on how the climate will affect them in the coming year, and how land use change effects the carbon cycle. He is the primary author of the ecosystem models: Century, DayCent, ForCent, and is currently working on the development of PhotoCent (see model descriptions). Additionally, he is working on the Grass-Cast Project which is a predictive above-ground grassland plant production (ANPP) model that uses current weather data, the DayCent model and precipitation forecasts to help ranchers predict what the grass production will be for the grazing season. Dr. Parton has published over 150 papers and book chapters. He is fellow for the Ecological Society of America and the American Geophysical Union and was honored as a Resident Distinguished Ecologist at Colorado State University.  He has had numerous projects funded by NSF, USDA, DOE, EPA and NIH.



  • PhD, Meteorology, University of Oklahoma-Norman, 1972
  • MS, Meteorology, University of Oklahoma-Norman, 1968
  • BS, Meteorology, Pennsylvania State University-University Park, 1966

External Links

Journal Articles


Asao, S., W. J. Parton, M. Chen and W. Gao. 2018. Photodegradation accelerates ecosystem N cycling in a simulated California grassland. Ecosphere 9(8):e02370. DOI: 10.1002/ecs2.2370. (link )

Del Grosso, S. J., W. J. Parton, J. D. Derner, M. Chen and C. J. Tucker. 2018. Simple models to predict grassland ecosystem C exchange and actual evapotranspiration using NDVI and environmental variables. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 249:1-10. DOI: 10.1016/j.agrformet.2017.11.007. (link )

Qin, X., H. Wang, Y. He, Y. Li, Z. Li, Q. Gao, Y. Wan, B. Qian, B. McConkey, R. DePauw, R. Lemke and W. J. Parton. 2018. Simulated adaptation strategies for spring wheat to climate change in a northern high latitude environment by DAYCENT model. European Journal of Agronomy 95:45-56. DOI: 10.1016/j.eja.2017.12.005. (link )


Adair, E. C., W. J. Parton, J. Y. King, L. A. Brandt and Y. Lin. 2017. Accounting for photodegradation dramatically improves prediction of carbon losses in dryland systems. Ecosphere 8(7):e01892. DOI: 10.1002/ecs2.1892. (link )

Chen, M., W. J. Parton, S. J. Del Grosso, M. D. Hartman, K. A. Day, C. J. Tucker, J. D. Derner, A. K. Knapp, W. K. Smith, D. Ojima and W. Gao. 2017. The signature of sea surface temperature anomalies on the dynamics of semiarid grassland productivity. Ecosphere 8(12):e02069. DOI: 10.1002/ecs2.2069. (link )


Parton, W. J., M. P. Gutmann, S. A. Williams, M. Easter and D. Ojima. 2005. Ecological impact of historical land-use patterns in the Great Plains: A methodological assessment. Ecological Applications 15(6):1915-1928.


Throop, H. L., E. A. Holland, W. J. Parton, D. S. Ojima and C. A. Keough. 2004. Effects of nitrogen deposition and insect herbivory on patterns of ecosystem-level carbon and nitrogen dynamics: Results from the CENTURY model. Global Change Biology 10(7):1092-1105. DOI: 10.1111/j.1529-8817.2003.00791.x. (link )


Parton, W. J., M. P. Gutmann and W. R. Travis. 2003. Historical land use change in eastern Colorado. Great Plains Research 13:97-125.


Jackson, R. B., H. J. Schenk, E. G. Jobbágy, J. G. Canadell, G. D. Colello, R. E. Dickinson, C. B. Field, P. Friedlingstein, M. Heimann, K. Hibbard, D. W. Kicklighter, A. Kleidon, R. P. Nelson, W. J. Parton, O. E. Sala and M. T. Sykes. 2000. Belowground consequences of vegetation change and their treatment in models. Ecological Applications 10(2):470-483. DOI: 10.1890/1051-0761(2000)010[0470:BCOVCA]2.0.CO;2. (link )


Parton, W. J., J. M. Scurlock, D. Ojima, D. S. Schimel, D. O. Hall, M. Coughenour, E. Garcia Moya, T. G. Gilmanov, A. Kamnalrut, J. I. Kinamario, T. Kirchner, T. G. Kittel, J. C. Menaut, O. E. Sala, R. J. Scholes and J. A. Van Veen. 1995. Impact of climate change on grassland production and soil carbon worldwide. 1(1):13-22. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.1995.tb00002.x. (link )


Sala, O. E., W. K. Lauenroth and W. J. Parton. 1992. Long term soil water dynamics of the shortgrass steppe. Ecology 73(4):1175-1181. DOI: 10.2307/1940667. (link )


Sala, O. E., W. J. Parton, L. A. Joyce and W. K. Lauenroth. 1988. Primary production of the central grassland region of the United States. Ecology 69(1):40-45. DOI: 10.2307/1943158. (link )


Sala, O. E., W. K. Lauenroth and W. J. Parton. 1982. Plant recovery following prolonged drought in a shortgrass steppe. Agricultural Meteorology 27(1-2):49-58. DOI: 10.1016/0002-1571(82)90019-X. (link )


Sala, O. E., W. K. Lauenroth, W. J. Parton and M. J. Trlica. 1981. Water status of soil and vegetation in a shortgrass steppe. Oecologia (Berl.) 48:327-331. (link )

Book Chapters


Gutmann, M. P., W. J. Parton, G. Cunfer and I. C. Burke. 2005. Population and environment in the US Great Plains. In: Entwisle, B. and P. C. Stern eds., Population, Land Use, and Environment: Research Directions. National Academies Press.