Jackson Helms


Jackson Helms is a Ph.D. student at the University of Oklahoma. His broad interests focus on landscape-scale biogeography, land use and how humans interact with the natural world. For his research, Jackson examines flight and dispersal ability of ant queens in relation to their ecology and environment.

The ultimate goal of this research is to use knowledge of how ants disperse to predict ant community responses to habitat destruction and fragmentation. Research on queen flight can also be applied to better understand how invasive ant species disperse and spread across the landscape. To that end, Jackson studies the flight morphology of invasive fire ants. In addition to his research, he’s interested in surveying ant communities to map species ranges, inform conservation planning, and evaluate the impacts of human land use on native species.

Prior to becoming a biologist, Jackson spent five years as a linguist in the US Marine Corps, work that instilled an interest in human languages and cultures, and prepared him for a life of fieldwork and exploration. Since then, Jackson’s work has taken him around the globe. He has field experience in a number of countries, such as Uganda, Madagascar, Panama, and Indonesia, as well as at home in the United States.


  • PhD program, University of Oklahoma, USA, 2011-Present
  • BS, Ecology and Evolution, The Ohio State University.
  • AA, Arabic, Defense Language Institute.


Helms JA, IV, Alonso L & Isaacs S (In press) Ants of the South Rupununi Savannah, Guyana.    WWF- Guianas & Global Wildlife Conservation publication.

Helms JA, IV, Godfrey A, Ames T & Bridge ES (2015) Fire Ant exterminators: Purple Martins   and aerial pest control. The Purple Martin Update 24:24-27.

Helms JA, IV & Kaspari M (2015) Reproduction-dispersal tradeoffs in ant queens. Insectes         Sociaux doi:10.1007/s00040-015-0391-9.

Helms JA, IV, Peeters C & Fisher BL (2014) Funnels, gas exchange and cliff jumping: natural       history of the cliff dwelling ant Malagidris sofina. Insectes Sociaux 61:357-365.

Helms J, Alonso L & Isaacs S (2014) Ants. In: South Rupununi Biodiversity Assessment Team   (BAT)             Expedition Preliminary Report, pp. 20-23. WWF-Guianas Biodiversity   Publications

Helms JA & Kaspari M (2014) Found or Fly: nutrient loading of dispersing ant queens decreases             metrics of flight ability (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Myrmecological News 19:85-91.

Alonso LE & Helms JA (2013) A rapid assessment of the ants of the Grensgebergte and   Kasikasima regions of Southeastern Suriname. RAP Bulletin of Biological Assessment            67:109-118.