Jay Diffendorfer


Folks call me Jay.  I'm an applied ecologist working at the Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center.  Trained as an ecologist, I originally worked on spatial ecology and conservation biology, including a USGS-funded post doc at University of Miami modelling reptile and amphibian responses to possible restoration scenarios in the Everglades.  I then worked as an assistant and full professor at San Diego State University, studying relationships between urbanization, fire, and invasive species on a native flora and fauna in southern California. This field-oriented research involved radiotelemetry, capture-recapture, and vegetation studies.  I left San Diego State University and spent 4 years at the Illinois Natural History Survey where my research began to expand into disease ecology and agro-ecosystems.  Since arriving at USGS in 2008, I have continued to expand my research focus and currently work on science related to the energy-environment nexus, ecosystem services, and applied ecology.  (Updated June, 2014)

Current research projects

Wind Energy Impacts Assessment Methodology.  We are developing methods to prioritize species and estimate the population-level consequences of wind energy at regional and national scales. (co-leads: M. Merril and M. Corum, Energy resources program).

 Ecosystems and Energy Development Strategies.  Covers a range of research surrounding the interaction between energy development/use and natural systems.

 Estimating area-specific contributions to the population dynamics of migratory species.  This is a working group within the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis. (co-leads, W. Thogmartin, R. Wiederholt, and B. Mattsson).

 Spatial Subsidies Associated With Ecosystem Services.  This work involves understanding how the movement of species, particularly migration, creates flows of ecosystem services across space, how we can measure these, and how we can use them to enhance resource management.  (In collaboration with D. Semmens, K. Bagstad, L. Hoffmann, R. Wiederholt)

Probabilistic integrated resource assessment tool for ecosystem services.  Based on a method produced from a USGS Powell Center working group (see past projects), we are developing a tool to assess changes in ecosystem services driven by land transformation caused by energy development and/or wildfire.  (co-leads, K. Bagstad, S. Garman, S. Hawbaker, and D. Semmens).



University of Kansas, Ph.D., (Ecology), 1995
Ohio University, BS, (Wildlife Biology), 1989


Positions Held

2014               Research Scientist and Supervisor of the Land Change Science Team, Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center, USGS, Lakewood, Colorado
2008-2014      Research Scientist, Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center, USGS, Lakewood, Colorado
2004-2008      Associate Scientist, Illinois Natural History Survey, Champaign, Illinois
1998-2004      Assistant/Associate Professor, San Diego State University, San Diego, California
1995-1998      Postdoctoral research with USGS, University of Miami, Miami, Florida


Other Publications (for a full list, see Publications tab below)

Diffendorfer, J.E., Fleming, G., Tremor, S., Spencer, W., Beyers, J. 2012. The role of fire severity, distance from fire perimeter, and vegetation on post-fire recovery of small mammal communities in chaparral: International Journal of Wildland Fire. v. 21, p. 436-448. [Link]