Jonathan Lyon

Academic Title

Executive Vice Provost and Vice President, Institutional Effectiveness, Planning and Sponsored Programs

Additional Title

Professor, Biology

Research Summary

Jonathan Lyon’s broad research interests are in applying ecological approaches to help understand, predict and ultimately solve real-world problems. He has active research interests in plant community ecology, the character of ecotones between communities and across landscapes, the impacts of human disturbance on plant community structure and dynamics, conservation biology and environmental management.

Lyon also has interest in freshwater, aquatic plant communities. Riparian systems are of particular interest because of their species richness and variability in space and time, their impact on water quality, their importance as wildlife habitat, and the development and human utilization pressures on these systems.

Jonathan’s primary focus is on elucidating patterns of plant diversity in relation to flooding regimes, topography, soils, physical characteristics of the landscape, and human disturbance. Much of this research has incorporated use of geographic information systems, multivariate statistics and spatial modeling in efforts to identify key environmental gradients and human impacts that are influencing these systems.


  • Ph.D. Interdisciplinary Program in Ecology, Pennsylvania State University
  • B.S. Biology, Beloit College

Recent Publications

Horwich, R.H., J. Lyon, A. Bose and C. Jones. 2012. “Preserving Biodiversity and Ecosystems: Catalyzing Conservation Contagion.” In, Deforestation Around the World (ed. P. Moutinho), Chapter 14. ISBN 978-953-51-0417-9, In-Tech, Open Access Publication.

Horwich, R.H., J. Lyon and A. Bose. 2011. “What Belize Can Teach Us About Grassroots Conservation.” Solutions 2(3): 51-58.

Horwich, R.H., R. Islari, A. Bose, B. Dey, M. Moshahary, N. Kanti Dey. R. Das and J. Lyon. 2010. “Community Protection of the Manas Biosphere Reserve in Assam, India, and the Endangered Golden Langur Trachypithecus geei.” Oryx 44(2): 252-260.

Lyon, J. 2010. “Grassroots Success in Controlling Purple Loosestrife. Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissioners (MACC) 40(2): 4-5.

Horwich, R.H. and J. Lyon. 2007. “Community Conservation: Practitioners’ Answers to Critics.” Oryx 41(3): 376-385.

Lyon, J. 2007. “Diagnostic/Feasibility Study for the Martins Pond Watershed.” Merrimack College Environmental Science Program, submitted to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. 232 pp.

Lyon, J. and *T. Eastman. 2006. “Macrophyte Species Assemblages and Distribution in a Shallow, Eutrophic Lake. Northeastern Naturalist 13(3): 443-453.

Lyon, J. and *N.M. Gross. 2005. “Patterns of Plant Diversity and Plant-Environmental Relationships Across Three Riparian Corridors.” Forest Ecology and Management 204: 267-278.

Lyon, J. and W.E. Sharpe. 2003. “Impacts of Hay-scented Fern on the Nutrition of Northern Red Oak Seedlings.” Journal of Plant Nutrition 26(3): 487-502.

Lyon, J. and C.S. Sagers. 2002. “Correspondence Analysis of Functional Groups in a Riparian Landscape.” Plant Ecology 164: 171-183.

Lyon, J. and *C.A. Annen. 1999. “Relationships Between Herbaceous Vegetation and Environmental Factors Along a Restored Prairie-Oak Opening Ecotone.” Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences 87:37-50.

Lyon, J. and W.E. Sharpe. 1999. “An Assessment of the Ca:Al Ratios of Selected Pennsylvania Forest Soils. Water, Air and Soil Pollution 109: 53-65.

Sharpe, W.E., J. Lyon, and J.R. Drohan. 1999. “Acidification Status Assessment of Sensitive Pennsylvania Forest Soils.” pp. 73-86. In W.E. Sharpe and J.R. Drohan (eds.), “The Effects of Acidic Deposition on Pennsylvania’s Forest.” Environmental Resources Research Institute, University Park, PA.

Horwich, R.H. and J. Lyon. 1999. “Rural Ecotourism as a Conservation Tool.” pp. 102-119. In T.V. Singh and S. Singh (eds.), “Tourism Development in Critical Environments. Cognizant Communication Corporation,” New York.

Lyon, J. and C.S. Sagers. 1998. “Structure of Herbaceous Plant Assemblages in a Forested Riparian Landscape. Plant Ecology 138(1): 1-16.

Horwich, R.H. and J. Lyon. 1998. “Community-Based Development as a Conservation Tool: the Community Baboon Sanctuary and the Gales Point Manatee Project.” pp. 343-363. In R.B. Primack, D.B. Bray, H.A. Galletti, and I. Ponciano (eds.), “Timber, Tourists and Temples: Conservation and Development in the Maya Forest of Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico.” Island Press.

Sagers, C.S. and J. Lyon. 1997. “Gradient Analysis in a Riparian Landscape: Contrasts Among Forest Layers.” Forest Ecology and Management 96: 13-26.

Lyon, J. and W.E. Sharpe. 1996. “Hay-Scented Fern (Dennstaedtia punctilobula [Michx.] Moore) Interference With the Root and Shoot Growth of Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra L) Seedlings. Tree Physiology 16: 923-932.

Lyon, J. and W.E. Sharpe. 1996. “Effects of Acidic Deposition on Forests.” pp. 243-266. In S.K. Majumdar et al. (ed.) “Forests: A Global Perspective.” The Pennsylvania Academy of Sciences, Philadelphia.

Lyon, J. and R.H. Horwich. 1996. “Modification of Tropical Forest Patches for Wildlife Protection and Community Conservation in Belize.” pp. 205-230. In J. Schelhas and R. Greenburg (ed.), “Forest Patches in Tropical Landscapes.” Island Press.

Professional Experience

Jonathan Lyon joined Merrimack in 2001 as an associate professor of biology, and was promoted to professor in 2014. He was president of the Faculty Senate from 2015-16, chair of biology from 2013-16, co-director of the environmental studies and sustainability program from 2011-13 and co-director of the environmental science program from 2002-05. Lyon is also the co-founder of the interdisciplinary ESS program.

Jonathan is a graduate of Beloit College and holds a doctorate in ecology from Pennsylvania State University.

He has forged and funded successful environmental partnerships among Merrimack, regional not-for-profits, municipalities and state agencies to address freshwater and ecosystem impairment issues in northeast Massachusetts.