James Coles, PhD.

James Coles is an aquatic ecologist for the New England Water Science Center. His primary interests are identifing how urban development and its associated stressors affect invertebrate and algal communities in streams, and translating this information into reliable indicators of ecological health that can be used in management decisions for streams. 


James is an aquatic ecologist who has been with the New England Water Science Center since 2007.  His prior academic work focused on identifying environmental factors that contributed to high growth rates of cyanobacteria and its seasonal dominance over diatoms in freshwater systems. More recently he has investigated the effects of watershed development and associated stressors on the condition of stream ecosystems.  Since 2014 he has been the coordinator for the USGS Regional Stream Quality Assessments in New England; these studies include a comprehensive investigation of how stream ecosystems are affected by modified flow regimes, and how watershed development results in multiple stressors that affect water quality and the biotic communities of streams in New England.     

Recent Accomplishments


  • Ph.D., Environmental Science and Public Policy, 1992, George Mason University
  • M.S., Aquatic Ecology, 1982, George Mason University
  • B.A., Environmental Biology, 1977, University of Virginia

Professional Studies/Experience

USGS/EPA Liaison - EPA Region I (New England), Boston MA (2002-2007)

Ecologist - Nat'l Water Quality Assessment Program, USGS MA/RI District (1992-2002)

Project Manager - Analysis and Technology, Inc., Arlington VA (1983 - 1989)

Water Quality Specialist - Virginia Department of Transportation, Richmond VA (1977- 1980)


Professional societies/affiliations/committees/editorial boards

Honors, awards, recognition, elected offices

Scientific/Oral Presentations, Abstracts