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, CO
2008-2014      Research Scientist, Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center, USGS, Lakewood, CO
2004-2008      Associate Scientist, Illinois Natural History Survey, Champaign, IL
1998-2004      Assistant/Associate Professor, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA
1995-1998      Postdoctoral research with USGS, University of Miami, Miami, FL







Diffendorfer, J.E., Compton, R., Kramer, L., Ancona, Z., Norton, D., 2014, Onshore industrial wind turbine locations for the United States through July 2013. U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 817 [Link]

López-Hoffman, L., Wiederholt R., Sansone C., Bagstad, K.J., Cryan P., Diffendorfer, J.E., Goldstein J., LaSharr K., Loomis, J., McCracken G. F., Russell A., and D. Semmens., 2014, Market forces and technological substitutes can cause declines in the value of bat pest-control services for cotton. PLoS ONE, v9(2):e87912. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0087912. [Link]

Diffendorfer, J.E., and Compton, R., 2014, Land cover and topography affect the land transformation caused by wind facilities. PLOSone. 9(2): e88914. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0088914 [Link]

Goldstein, J.H., Thogmartin, W.E., Bagstad, K.J., Dubovsky, J., Semmens, D.J., Mattsson, B.J., López-Hoffman, L., and Diffendorfer, J.E., 2014, Replacement cost value of Northern Pintail (Anas acuta) subsistence harvest in Arctic and sub-Arctic North America. Human Dimensions of Wildlife, 19:347-354. [Link]

Schuette, P., Diffendorfer, J.E., Deutschman, D.H., Tremor, S., and Spencer, W.S., 2014., Carnivore distributions across chaparral habitats exposed to wildfire and rural housing in southern California. International Journal of Wildland Fire, 23(4):591-600. [Link]

Bristol, S.R., Euliss, N.H. Jr., Booth, N.L., Burkardt, N., Diffendorfer, J.E., Gesch, D.B., McCallum, B.E., Miller, D.M., Morman, S.A., Poore, B.S., Signell, R.P., and Viger, R.J., 2013, U.S. Geological Survey Core Science Systems Strategy—Characterizing, Synthesizing, and Understanding the Critical Zone through a Modular Science Framework: Circular 1383-B, 33p. [Link]

López-Hoffman, L., Semmens, D., Diffendorfer, J.E., 2013. How do migratory species add ecosystem service value to wilderness? Calculating the spatial subsidies provided by protected areas: International Journal of Wilderness. v. 19, p. 14-19. [Link]

Carr, N., Diffendorfer, J.E., Fancher, T., Latysh, N., Leib, K., Matherne, A., 2013, Locations and attributes of wind turbines in Colorado, 2011: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 782. [Link]

Carr, N., Diffendorfer, J.E., Fancher, T., Latysh, N., Leib, K., Matherne, A, 2013, Locations and attributes of wind turbines in New Mexico, 2011: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 783. [Link]

Haines, S., Diffendorfer, J.E., Balistrieri, L., Berger, B., Cook, T., DeAngelis, D., Doremus, H., Gautier, D.L., Gallegos, T., Gerritsen, M., Graffy, E., Hawkins, S., Johnson, K.M., Macknick, J., McMahon, P., Modde, T., Pierce, B., Schuenemeyer, J.H., Semmens, D., Simon, B., Taylor, J., and Walton-Day, K., 2013, A framework for quantitative assessment of impacts related to energy and mineral resource development. Natural Resources Research v. 23, p. 3-17, DOI: 10.1007/s11053-013-9208-6. [Link]

Wiederholt, R, López-Hoffman, L., Cline J., Medellin R., Cryan P., Russell A., McCracken G., Diffendorfer, J.E., Semmens, D., 2013, Moving across the border: modeling migratory bat populations. Ecosphere v. 4, DOI:10.1890/ES-1300023.1. [Link]

Diffendorfer, J. E., Loomis, J.B., Ries, L., Oberhauser, K., Lopez-Hoffman, L., Semmens, D., Semmens, B., Butterfield, B., Bagstad, K., Goldstein, J., Wiederholt, R., Mattsson, B., and Thogmartin, W.E., 2013, National valuation of monarch butterflies indicates an untapped potential for incentive-based conservation. Conservation Letters v. 7. p.253-262. doi: 10.1111/conl.12065. [Link]

Carr, N.B., Ignizio, D.A., Diffendorfer, J.E., Latysh, N., Matherne, A.M., Linard, J.I., Leib, K.J., and Hawkins, S.J., 2013, Interactive energy atlas for Colorado and New Mexico—An online resource for decision makers: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2013–3112, 2 p. [Link]

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]

Germaine, S.S., O’Donnell, M.S., Aldridge, C.L., Baer, L.A., Fancher, T.S., McBeth, J.L., McDougal, R.R., Waltermire, R.G., Bowen, Z.H., Diffendorfer, J.E., Garman, S.L., and Hanson, L. 2012. Mapping surface disturbance of energy-related infrastructure in southwest Wyoming—An assessment of methods: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2012–5025, 42 p. [Link]

Carr, N.B., Diffendorfer, J.E., Latysh, N.E., Leib, K.J., Matherne, A.M., and Turner, C., 2011, Assessing effects of energy development in Colorado and New Mexico: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2011–3053. p. 2. [Link]

Carr, N.B., Diffendorfer, J.E., Fancher, T.S., Latysh, N.E., Leib, K.J., Matherne, A.M., and Turner, C., 2011, Locations and attributes of wind turbines in New Mexico, 2009: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 596. [Link]

Carr, N.B., Diffendorfer, J. E., Fancher, T.S., Latysh, N.E., Leib, K.J., Matherne, A.M., and Turner, C., 2011, Locations and attributes of wind turbines in Colorado, 2009: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 597. [Link]

Bowen, Z.H., Aldridge, C.L., Anderson, P.J., Assal, T.J., Biewick, L.R.H., Blecker, S.W., Boughton, G.K., Bristol, S., Carr, N.B., Chalfoun, A.D., Chong, G.W., Clark, M.L., Diffendorfer, J.E., Fedy, B.C., Foster, K., Garman, S.L., Germaine, S., Holloway, J., Homer, C., Kauffman, M.J., Keinath, D., Latysh, N., Manier, D., McDougal, R.R., Mescher, C.P., Miller, K.A., Montag, J., Potter, C.J., Schell, S., Shafer, S.L., Smith, D.B., Stillings, L.L., Tuttle, M., and Wilson, A.B., 2011, U.S. Geological Survey Science for the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative – 2010 Annual Report: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2011-1219, 147 p.

Semmens, D.J., Diffendorfer, J.E., Lopez-Hoffman, L., Shapiro, C.D., 2011, Accounting for the ecosystem services of migratory species: Quantifying migration support and spatial subsidies: Ecological Economics v. 70, p. 2236-2242. [Link]

Fleming, G.M., Diffendorfer, J.E., Zedler, P.H, 2009, The relative importance of disturbance and exotic plant abundance in California coastal sage scrub: Ecological Applications. v. 19, p. 2210-27 [Link]

Mitrovich, M.J, Diffendorfer, J.E., and Fisher, R.N., 2009, Behavioral response of the coachwhip (Masticophis flagellum) to habitat fragment size and isolation in an urban landscape. Journal of Herpetology v. 43, p. 646-656. [Link]

Bowen, Z.H., Aldridge, C.L., Anderson, P.J., Assal, T., Baer, L.A., Bristol, S., Carr, N.B., Chong, G.W., Diffendorfer, J.E., Fedy, B.C., Garman, S.L., Germaine, S., Grauch, R.I., Homer, C., Manier, D., Kauffman, M.J., Latysh, N., Melcher, C.P., Miller, K.A., Montag, J., Nutt, C.J., Potter, C., Sawyer, H., Smith, D.B., Sweat, M.J., and Wilson, A.B., 2009, U.S. Geological Survey Science for the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative—2008 Annual Report: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2009–1201, 83 p. [Link]

Lips, K.A., Diffendorfer, J.E., Mendelson J.R., and Sears, M.W., 2008, Riding the wave: reconciling the role of disease and climate change in amphibian declines: Public Library of Science Biology, v.6, issue 3: e72. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0060072. [Link]

Sears, M.W., Diffendorfer, J.E., Lips, K.A., and Mendelson, J.R., 2008, Amphibian declines and issues of inference: response to Parmesan and Singer. Public Library of Science Biology [Link]

Kelly, A.C., Mateus-Pinilla, N.E., Diffendorfer, J.E., Jewell, E., Ruiz, M.O., Killefer, J., Shelton, P., Beissel, T., and Novakofski, J., 2008, Prion sequence polymorphisms and chronic wasting disease resistance in Illinois white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus): Prion, v. 2, p. 1-9. [Link]

Diffendorfer, J.E., Fleming, G.M., Duggan, J.M., Chapman, R.E., Rahn, M.E., Mitrovitch, M.J., and Fisher, R.N., 2007, Developing terrestrial, multi-taxon indices of biological integrity: An example from coastal sage scrub: Biological Conservation, v. 140, p. 130-141. [Link]

Diffendorfer, J.E., Spencer, W.S., Tremor, S., and Beyers, J., 2007, Effects of fire severity and distance from unburned edge on mammalian community post-fire recovery: Final Report for project 04-2-1-94 to the Joint Fire Sciences Program: 37 p

Mateus-Pinilla, N.E., Novakofski, J.E., Kelly, A., Diffendorfer, J.E., Pinkerton, M., Whittington, J.K., and Ruiz, M., 2007, W-146-R-02 Annual federal aid performance report, wildlife and chronic wasting disease surveillance: Illinois Department of Natural Resources, 19p.

Mateus-Pinilla, N.E., Novakofski, J.E., Kelly, A., Diffendorfer, J.E., Pinkerton, M., Whittington, J.K., and Ruiz, M., 2006, W-146-R-01 Annual Federal Aid Performance Report, wildlife and chronic wasting disease surveillance: Illinois Department of Natural Resources, 34p

Mateus-Pinilla, N.E., Novakofski, J.E., Diffendorfer, J.E., Killefer, J., 2006, Genetic relatedness and gene flow of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in the chronic wasting disease prevalent region of Illinois: Illinois Department of Natural Resources and International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (IAFWA)

Rahn, M.E., Doremus, H., and Diffendorfer, J.E., 2006, Species coverage in multispecies habitat conservation plans: Where's the science? BioScience, v. 56, p. 613-619. [Link]

Mendelson, J.R., Lips, K.R., Gagliardo, R.W., Rabb, G. B., Collins, J.P., Diffendorfer, J.E., Daszak, P., D Ibáñez, R., Zippel, K.C., Lawson, D.P., Wright, K.M., Stuart, S.N., Gascon, C., da Silva, H.R., Burrowes, P.A., Joglar, R.L., La Marca, E., Lötters, S., du Preez, L.H., Weldon, C., Hyatt, A., Rodriguez-Mahecha, J.V., Hunt, S., Robertson, H. Lock, B., Raxworthy, C.J., Frost, D.R., Lacy, R.C., Alford, R.A., Campbell, J.A., Parra-Olea, G. Bolaños, F, Domingo, J.J.C., Halliday, T., Murphy, J.B., Wake, M.H., Coloma, L.A., Kuzmin, S.L., Price, M.S., Howell, K.M., Lau, M., Pethiyagoda, R., Boone, M., Lannoo, M. J., Blaustein, A. R., Dobson, A., Griffiths, R.A., Wake, D.B., Brodie Jr E.D., 2006, Confronting amphibian declines and extinctions: Science, v. 313, 48 p. [Link]

Mendelson, J.R., Lips, K.R., Diffendorfer, J.E., Gagliardo, R.W., Rabb, G.B., Collins, J.P., , Daszak, P., Ibáñez, R., Zippel, K.C., Stuart, S.N., Gascon, C., da Silva, Burrowes, P.A., Lacy, R.C., Bolaños, F, Coloma, L.A., Wright, K.M., Wake, D. B. 2006. Response to: Pounds et al.: responding to amphibian loss: Science, v. 314, p. 1541-1542. [Link]

Diffendorfer, J.E., Rochester, C., Fisher, R.N., and Brown, T.K., 2005, Movement and space use by coastal rosy boas (Lichanura trivirgata roseofusca) in Coastal Southern California: Journal of Herpetology, v. 39, p. 24-36. [Link]

Morris, D.W., Diffendorfer, J.E., and Lundberg, P., 2004, Dispersal among habitats varying in fitness: reciprocating migration through ideal habitat selection: Oikos, v. 107, p. 559-575. [Link]

Morris D.W., and Diffendorfer, J.E., 2004, Reciprocating dispersal by habitat-selecting white-footed mice: Oikos v. 107, p. 549-558. [Link]

Diffendorfer, J.E., and Doherty P.F., 2004, Lifting Cassandra's curse: Conservation Biology v. 18, p. 600. [Link]

Diffendorfer, J.E., Fleming G.M., Duggan, J., Chapman R., Hogan, D., 2004, Final report for creating and index of biological integrity for coastal sage scrub: A tool for habitat quality assessment and monitoring: Prepared for California Department of Fish and Game. 248 p. [Link]

Gaines, M.S., Sasso, C.R., Diffendorfer, J.E., and Beck, H., 2003, Effects of tree island size and water on the population dynamics of small mammals in the Everglades: in van der Valk, A., and Sklar, F., ed., Tree Islands of the Everglades: Kluwer Academic.

Betzler, J., Diffendorfer, J.E., Fleury, S., Hawke, M., Klein, M., Morrison, S., Nichols, G., Oberbauer, T., Rochester, C., Webb, M., and Williams, K., 2003, A summary of affected flora and fauna in the San Diego County fires of 2003: Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) Program Reports, 36 p. + Appendices. [Link]

Diffendorfer, J.E. and Deutschman D.D., 2003, Monitoring the Stephen’s kangaroo rat: An analysis of monitoring methods and recommendations for future monitoring. Prepared for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, 51 p.

Diffendorfer, J.E. Chapman, R.E., Duggan, J.M., Fleming G.M., Mitrovitch M., Rahn M.E., and Rosario, R. del., 2002, Coastal Sage Scrub response to disturbance: A literature review and annotated bibliography. Prepared for the California Department of Fish and Game, 87 p. [Link]

Diffendorfer, J.E. and Rosario, R. del., 2002, Assessing habitat quality and disturbance in Coastal Sage Scrub using an index of biological integrity: Prepared for California Department of Fish and Game, 29 p. [Link]

Diffendorfer, J.E., Chapman, R.E., Duggan, J.M., Fleming, G.M., 2002, An analysis of monitoring data in light of small mammal, plant, and bird responses to disturbance in CSS and the development of an Index of Biological Integrity: Prepared for the California Department of Fish and Game, 33 p

Diffendorfer, J.E., and Slade, N.S., 2002, Long-distance movements in Cotton Rats (Sigmodon hispidus) and Prairie Voles (Microtus ochrogaster) in Northeastern Kansas: American Midland Naturalist, v. 148, p. 309-319. [Link]

Diffendorfer, J.E., Richards, P.M., Dalrymple, G.H., and DeAngelis, D.L., 2001, Applying linear programming to estimate fluxes in ecosystems or food webs: an example from the herpetological assemblages of freshwater Everglades: Ecological Modeling, v. 144, p. 99-120. [Link]

Noss R., Allen E., Ballmer, G., Diffendorfer, J.E., Soulé M., Tracy R., and Webb R., 2001, Independent science advisors review: Coachella Valley multiple species habitat conservation plan/natural communities conservation plan (MSHCP/NCCP): Prepared for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Game, 53 p.

Rochester, C.J., Diffendorfer, J.E., and Fisher, R.N., 2001, Natural history of the Rosy Boa (Charina trivirgata): Prepared for U.S. Geological Survey-Species at Risk Technical Report. 71p. [Link]

Schweiger, E.W., Diffendorfer, J.E., Holt, R.D., Pierotti, R., and Gaines, M.S., 2000, The interaction of habitat fragmentation plant, and small mammal succession in an old field: Ecological Monographs, v. 70, p. 383-400 [Link]

Diffendorfer, J.E., Gaines, M.S., and Holt, R.D., 1999, Patterns and impacts of movements at different scales on small mammals: in Barrett, G.W., and Peles, J., eds., The landscape ecology of small mammals: New York, Springer-Verlag, p. 63-88.

Schweiger, E.W., Diffendorfer, J.E., Pierotti, R., and Holt, R.D., 1999, The relative importance of small-scale and landscape-level heterogeneity in structuring small mammal distribution: in Barrett, G.W., and Peles, J.D., ed., landscape ecology of small mammals: Springer-Verlag New York, Inc., p. 175-207.

Diffendorfer, J.E., 1998, Testing models of source-sink dynamics and balanced dispersal: Oikos, v. 81, p. 417-433. [Link]

Gaines, M.S., Diffendorfer, J.E., and Lind, L., 1998, The effects of high water on small mammal populations inhabiting hammock islands in Everglades National Park: in Ecological assessment of the 1994-1995 high water conditions in the southern Everglades, National Park Service. [Link]

Bassett, A., DeAngelis, D.L., and Diffendorfer, J.E., 1997, The effect of functional response on stability of a grazer population on a landscape: Ecological Modelling, v. 101, p. 153-162. [Link]

Gaines, M.S., Diffendorfer, J.E., Tamarin, R.H., and Whittam, T.S., 1997, The effects of habitat fragmentation on the genetic structure of small mammal populations: Journal of Heredity, v. 88, p. 294-304[Download File]

Diffendorfer, J.E., Holt, R.D., Slade, N.A., and Gaines, M.S., 1996, Small mammal community patterns in old fields; distinguishing site-specific from regional processes: in Cody, M.L., and Smallwood, J.A., eds., Long-term studies of vertebrate communities: San Diego, CA, Academic Press.

Diffendorfer, J.E., Gaines, M.S. and Holt, R.D., 1995, Habitat fragmentation and the movements of three small mammals (Sigmodon hispidus, Microtus ochrogaster, and Peromyscus maniculatus): Ecology, v. 76, p. 837-839. [Link]

Diffendorfer, J.E., Slade, N.A., Gaines, M.S., and Holt, R.D., 1995, Population dynamics of small mammals in fragmented and continuous old-field habitat: in Lidicker, W.Z., ed., Landscape approaches in mammalian ecology and conservation: Minneapolis, USA, University of Minnesota Press, p. 175-199.

Diffendorfer, J.E., 1995, The spatial ecology of small mammals in old fields: a study of movement, demography and community structure in a fragmented landscape: University of Kansas, Ph.D. dissertation, 202 p.

Gaines, M.S., Diffendorfer, J.E., Foster, J., Wray, F.P., and Holt, R.D., 1994, The effects of habitat fragmentation on populations of three species of small mammals in Eastern Kansas: Polish Ecological Studies, v. 20, p. 163-175.

Holt, R.D., Debinski, D.M., Diffendorfer, J.E., Gaines, M.S., and Martinko, E.A., 1994, Perspectives from an experimental study of habitat fragmentation in an agroecosystem: in Glen, D.M., Greaves, M.P., and Anderson, H.M., eds., Ecology and Integrated Farming Systems: New York, Wiley and Sons.

Gaines, M.S., and Diffendorfer, J.E., 1992. Physiological plasticity of electromorphs of blood proteins in free-ranging Microtus ochrogaster: a second look: Ecology, v. 73, p. 1915-1917

Gaines, M.S., Foster, J., Diffendorfer, J.E., Sera, W.E., Holt, R.D., and Robinson, G.R., 1992, Population processes and biological diversity: Transactions of the North American Wildlife and Natural Resource Conference, v. 57, p. 252-262.

Gaines, M.S., Robinson, G.R., Diffendorfer, J.E., Holt, R.D., and Johnson, M.L., 1992, The effects of habitat fragmentation on small mammal populations: in McCullough, D.R., and Barret, R.H., eds., Wildlife 2001: Populations: London, Elsevier Applied Science, p. 875-885.