James Grace, Ph.D.

James Grace, Ph.D.

Research Ecologist

Wetland and Aquatic Research Center

Email: gracej@usgs.gov
Phone: 337-266-8632
Fax: 337-266-8592

700 Cajundome Blvd
Lafayette, LA 70506



Ph.D., Michigan State University

M.S., Clemson University

B.S., Biology, Presbyterian College 


2015 - present    Senior Research Scientist. U.S. Geological Survey, ST

2002 - 2014        Senior Research Ecologist, U.S. Geological Survey, GS-15

1993 - present     Adjunct Professor, Department of Biology, University of Louisiana

2002 - present     Affiliate Faculty, School of Renewable Natural Resources, LSU

1992 - 2002         Research Ecologist, U.S. Geological Survey, Biological Division

1990 - 1993         Professor, Department of Botany, Louisiana State University 

1985 - 1990         Associate Professor, Department of Botany, Louisiana State Univ.

1989                   Visiting Professor, Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium

1986                   Visiting Scientist, Div. Wildlife, CSIRO, Darwin, Australia

1980‑1985           Assistant Professor, Dept. Botany and Microbiology, Univ. Arkansas summer

1980      Assistant Professor,  Kellogg Biological Station, Michigan State Univ.

After graduate school, he held faculty positions at the University of Arkansas and Louisiana State University, where he reached the level of Full Professor. He currently holds an Adjunct Professorship in Biology at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette. In 2000, he received the millennium Meritorious Research Award from the Society of Wetland Scientists and in 2003 received the National Science Excellence Award from the U.S. Geological Survey. He was selected to be a Fellow of the Ecological Society of America and promoted to the Senior Scientist ranks in 2014. He has published over 180 papers and reports, including 3 books, one on competitive interactions, one on community analysis, and one on structural equation modeling.

Latest news releases related to our work (last 5 yrs) can be found at:  

Elected Fellow of the Ecological Society of America (2014): http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=3966

The Great Productivity-Diversity Debate: http://1560811.mediaspace.kaltura.com/media/James+Grace+pt+1/0_yy2jc1c3/...

Recommended Reading by Faculty of 1000 (2014): http://f1000.com/prime/717961256?bd=1  

Nature (2013): http://www.nature.com/news/world-governments-establish-biodiversity-pane...  

News Coverage (2013): http://www.nola.com/environment/index.ssf/2013/04/louisiana_seafood_heal...  

USGS News Releases (2013): http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=3544#.UVr1J7KPW8A

Science Perspectives piece (2011): http://www.sciencemag.org/content/333/6050/1709.full

National Science Foundation press release (2011): http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=121691&org=DEB&from=news

USGS News Release (2010): http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=2619

Press (2010): http://www.examiner.com/liberal-in-national/study-climate-change-adverse...

News (2010): http://www.climatecentral.org/breaking/blog/climate_in_context_a_60_year...

Conservation Maven (2010): http://www.conservationmaven.com/frontpage/predicting-the-performance-of...

USGS Genetics Program News Pick (2010): http://biology.usgs.gov/genetics_genomics/spotlight_2010.html  


For more news and information, search 'Jim Grace USGS'. Additional information in publications can be found at my Google Scholar Profile: http://scholar.google.com/citations?user=53SGwowAAAAJ&hl=en&oi=ao  

Training website for structural equation modeling: http://www.nwrc.usgs.gov/SEM

Science and Products

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Disentangling the mechanisms regulating coastal wetland sustainability in the face of rising sea levels
April 12, 2016

USGS scientists have been involved for a number of years in the development and use of Structural Equation Modeling (SEM). This methodology represents an approach to statistical modeling that focuses on the study of complex cause-effect hypotheses about the mechanisms operating in systems. SEM is increasingly used in ecological and environmental studies and this site seeks to provide educational materials related to that enterprise. This site serves up tutorials, exercises, and examples designed to help researchers learn and apply SEM. Please click on the “Science” tab to learn more.


Filter Total Items: 108
Year Published: 2016

Using structural equation modeling to link human activities to wetland ecological integrity

The integrity of wetlands is of global concern. A common approach to evaluating ecological integrity involves bioassessment procedures that quantify the degree to which communities deviate from historical norms. While helpful, bioassessment provides little information about how altered conditions connect to community response. More detailed information is needed for conservation and restoration...

Schweiger, E. William; Grace, James B.; Cooper, David; Bobowski, Ben; Britten, Mike
Schweiger, E.W., Grace, J.B., Cooper, D., Bobowski, B., and Britten, M., 2016, Using structural equation modeling to link human activities to wetland ecological integrity: Ecosphere, v. 7, no. 11, art. e01548, http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ecs2.1548.
Year Published: 2016

Does urban sprawl hold down upward mobility?

Contrary to the general perception, the United States has a much more class-bound society than other wealthy countries. The chance of upward mobility for Americans is just half that of the citizens of the Denmark and many other European countries. In addition to other influences, the built environment may contribute to the low rate of upward mobility in the U.S. This study tests the relationship...

Ewing, R.; Hamidi, Shima; Grace, James B.; Wei, Y.
Ewing, R., Hamidi, S., Grace, J.B., and Wei, Y.D., 2016, Does urban sprawl hold down upward mobility?: Landscape and Urban Planning, v. 148, p. 80-88, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.landurbplan.2015.11.012.
Year Published: 2016

Disentangling vegetation diversity from climate–energy and habitat heterogeneity for explaining animal geographic patterns

Broad-scale animal diversity patterns have been traditionally explained by hypotheses focused on climate–energy and habitat heterogeneity, without considering the direct influence of vegetation structure and composition. However, integrating these factors when considering plant–animal correlates still poses a major challenge because plant communities are controlled by abiotic factors that may, at...

Jimenez-Alfaro, Borja; Chytry, Milan; Mucina, Ladislav; Grace, James B.; Rejmanek, Marcel
Jiménez-Alfaro, B., Chytrý, M., Mucina, L., Grace, J.B., and Rejmánek, M., 2016, Disentangling vegetation diversity from climate-energy and habitat heterogeneity for explaining animal geographic patterns: Ecology and Evolution, Early View, http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ece3.1972.
Year Published: 2016

Comment on "Worldwide evidence of a unimodal relationship between productivity and plant species richness"

Fraser et al. (Reports, 17 July 2015, p. 302) report a unimodal relationship between productivity and species richness at regional and global scales, which they contrast with the results of Adler et al. (Reports, 23 September 2011, p. 1750). However, both data sets, when analyzed correctly, show clearly and consistently that productivity is a poor predictor of local species richness.

Tredennick, Andrew T; Adler, Peter B.; Grace, James B.; Harpole, W Stanley; Borer, Elizabeth T.; Seabloom, Eric W.; Anderson, T. Michael; Bakker, Jonathan D.; Biederman, Lori A.; Brown, Cynthia S.; Buckley, Yvonne M.; Chu, Cheng-Jin; Collins, Scott L.; Crawley, Michael J.; Fay, Philip A.; Firn, Jennifer; Gruner, Daniel S.; Hagenah, Nicole; Hautier, Yann; Hector, Andy; Hillebrand, Helmut; Kirkman, Kevin P.; Knops, Johannes M. H.; Laungani, Ramesh; Lind, Eric M.; MacDougall, Andrew S.; McCulley, Rebecca L.; Mitchell, Charles E.; Moore, Joslin L.; Morgan, John W.; Orrock, John L.; Peri, Pablo L.; Prober, Suzanne M.; Risch, Anita C.; Schuetz, Martin; Speziale, Karina L.; Standish, Rachel J.; Sullivan, Lauren L.; Wardle, Glenda M.; Williams, Ryan J.; Yang, Louie H.
Tredennick, A.T., Adler, P.B., Grace, J.B., Harpole, W.S., Borer, E.T., Seabloom, E.W., Anderson, T.M., Bakker, J.D., Biederman, L.A., Brown, C.S., Buckley, Y.M., Chu, C., Collins, S.L., Crawley, M.J., Fay, P.A., Firn, J., Gruner, D.S., Hagenah, N., Hautier, Y., Hector, A., Hillebrand, H., Kirkman, K., Knops, J.M.H., Laungani, R., Lind, E.M., MacDougall, A.S., McCulley, R.L., Mitchell, C.E., Moore, J.L., Morgan, J.W., Orrock, J.L., Peri, P.L., Prober, S.M., Risch, A.C., Schutz, M., Speziale, K.L., Standish, R.J., Sullivan, L.L., Wardle, G.M., Williams, R.J., and Yang, L.H., 2016, Comment on "Worldwide evidence of a unimodal relationship between productivity and plant species richness": Science, v. 351, no. 6272, p. 457, http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aad6236.
Year Published: 2016

Beyond just sea-level rise: Considering macroclimatic drivers within coastal wetland vulnerability assessments to climate change

Due to their position at the land-sea interface, coastal wetlands are vulnerable to many aspects of climate change. However, climate change vulnerability assessments for coastal wetlands generally focus solely on sea-level rise without considering the effects of other facets of climate change. Across the globe and in all ecosystems, macroclimatic drivers (e.g., temperature and rainfall regimes)...

Osland, Michael J.; Enwright, Nicholas M.; Day, Richard H.; Gabler, Christopher A.; Stagg, Camille L.; Grace, James B.
Osland, M.J., Enwright, N.M., Day, R.H., Gabler, C., Stagg, C.L., and Grace, J.B., 2016, Beyond just sea-level rise: considering macroclimatic drivers within coastal wetland vulnerability assessments to climate change: Global Change Biology, v. 22, no. 1, p. 1-11, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/gcb.13084.
Year Published: 2016

Compact development and VMT: environmental determinism, self-selection, or some of both?

There is a long-running debate in the planning literature about the effects of the built environment on travel behavior and the degree to which apparent effects are due to the tendency of households to self-select into neighborhoods that reinforce their travel preferences. Those who want to walk will choose walkable neighborhoods, and those who want to use transit will choose transit-served...

Ewing, Reid; Hamidi, Shima; Grace, James B.
Ewing, R., Hamidi, S., and Grace, J.B., 2016, Compact development and VMT-- Environmental determinism, self-selection, or some of both? Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, vol. 43 no. 4 737-755 http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0265813515594811.
Year Published: 2016

Urban sprawl as a risk factor in motor vehicle crashes

A decade ago, compactness/sprawl indices were developed for metropolitan areas and counties which have been widely used in health and other research. In this study, we first update the original county index to 2010, then develop a refined index that accounts for more relevant factors, and finally seek to test the relationship between sprawl and traffic crash rates using structural equation...

Ewing, Reid; Hamidi, Shima; Grace, James B.
Ewing, R., Hamidi, S., and Grace, J.B., 2016, Urban sprawl as a risk factor in motor vehicle crashes: Urban Studies, v. 53, no. 2, p. 247-266, http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0042098014562331.
Year Published: 2015

Taking a systems approach to ecological systems

Increasingly, there is interest in a systems-level understanding of ecological problems, which requires the evaluation of more complex, causal hypotheses. In this issue of the Journal of Vegetation Science, Soliveres et al. use structural equation modeling to test a causal network hypothesis about how tree canopies affect understorey communities. Historical analysis suggests structural equation...

Grace, James B.
Grace, J.B., 2015, Taking a systems approach to ecological systems: Journal of Vegetation Science, v. 26, no. 6, p. 1025-1027, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jvs.12340.
Year Published: 2015

Landscape structure affects specialists but not generalists in naturally fragmented grasslands

Understanding how biotic communities respond to landscape spatial structure is critically important for conservation management as natural landscapes become increasingly fragmented. However, empirical studies of the effects of spatial structure on plant species richness have found inconsistent results, suggesting that more comprehensive approaches are needed. In this study, we asked how landscape...

Miller, Jesse E.D.; Damschen, Ellen Ingman; Harrison, Susan P.; Grace, James B.
Miller, J.E.D., Damschen, E.I., Harrison, S.P., and Grace, J.B., 2015, Landscape structure affects specialists but not generalists in naturally fragmented grasslands: Ecology, http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/15-0245.1.
Year Published: 2015

Does natural variation in diversity affect biotic resistance?

Theories linking diversity to ecosystem function have been challenged by the widespread observation of more exotic species in more diverse native communities. Few studies have addressed the key underlying process by dissecting how community diversity is shaped by the same environmental gradients that determine biotic and abiotic resistance to new invaders.

Harrison, Susan; Cornell, Howard; Grace, James B.
Harrison, S., Cornell, H., and Grace, J.B., 2015, Does natural variation in diversity affect biotic resistance?: Journal of Ecology, v. 103, no. 5, p. 1099-1106, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1365-2745.12439.
Year Published: 2015

From patterns to causal understanding: Structural equation modeling (SEM) in soil ecology

In this perspectives paper we highlight a heretofore underused statistical method in soil ecological research, structural equation modeling (SEM). SEM is commonly used in the general ecological literature to develop causal understanding from observational data, but has been more slowly adopted by soil ecologists.

Eisenhauer, Nico; Powell, Jeff R; Grace, James B.; Bowker, Matthew A.
Eisenhauer, N., Bowker, M.A., Grace, J.B., and Powell, J.R., 2015, From patterns to causal understanding: structural equation modeling (SEM) in soil ecology: Pedobiologia - Journal of Soil Ecology, v. 58, no. 2-3, p. 65-72, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pedobi.2015.03.002.
Year Published: 2015

Do shrubs reduce the adverse effects of grazing on soil properties?

Increases in the density of woody plants are a global phenomenon in drylands, and large aggregations of shrubs, in particular, are regarded as being indicative of dysfunctional ecosystems. There is increasing evidence that overgrazing by livestock reduces ecosystem functions in shrublands, but that shrubs may buffer the negative effects of increasing grazing. We examined changes in water...

Eldridge, David J.; Beecham, Genevieve; Grace, James B.
Eldridge, D.J., Beecham, G., and Grace, J.B., 2015, Do shrubs reduce the adverse effects of grazing on soil properties?: Ecohydrology, Online Early, http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/eco.1600.
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USGS science for a changing world logo
January 15, 2016

Researchers have found clear evidence that biological communities rich in species are substantially healthier and more productive than those depleted of species.