Photo of James Vose

James Vose

Project Leader/Senior Research Ecologist
NC State Univ., Campus Box 8008
Raleigh, NC 27695
Phone: 828-506-0924

Current Research

Ecohydrology, forest-climate-land use interactions, science and policy syntheses, fire ecology, hemlock woolly adelgid impacts on ecosystem structure and function

Research Interests

My research approach spans the continuum from leaves to landscapes, and includes determination of the roles of species and natural and anthropogenic disturbances in regulating watershed ecosystem processes. This includes conducting and leading numerous interdisciplinary studies investigating ecosystem responses to prescribed burning, evaluating the effectiveness of riparian zone restoration and buffer widths, and quantifying ecosystem responses to climate change, forest management activities, and insect outbreaks. My current research with the Center for Integrated Forest Science builds on this foundation of research to address interactions between disturbance and ecosystem processes at larger spatial scales.

Why This Research is Important

Rapid changes in social and biophysical conditions in the U.S. and throughout the globe are impacting the ability of forest ecosystems to provide the services necessary to sustain human well-being. This has resulted in a pressing need for better and more integrated management and policy relevant information. This requires synthesizing information and collaborating across multiple disciplines, including social and economic sciences. For example, to address this need, I co-led a national assessment of climate change impacts on the nation's forests and developed management options to deal with those impacts on forests in the southern U.S. Currently, I am leading efforts to examine the interactions among climate, land use change, and water resources at river basin scales; and assessing the effectiveness of best management practices and policies for mitigating undesirable impacts.


Ph.D. in Forest Ecology, 1987
North Carolina State University
M.S. in Forest Ecology, 1984
Northern Arizona University
B.S. in Forestry, 1982
Southern Illinois University

Featured Publications and Products


Research Highlights

Book Published to Help Managers of Southern Forests Cope with the Effects of Climate Change (2014)
SRS-2014-161 Resource managers and policy makers require new insights into the implications of a rapidly changing climate on forest ecosystems and their values, and new approaches to managing natural resources in response to climate change. A new book blends forest management, forest ecology, forest hydrology, wildlife and fisheries sciences, social and economic sciences, climate change, and modeling expertise, to provide science-based management options that can be applied and tested on the ground. It is the only integrated science-based analysis and description of management options available to natural resource managers, policy makers, and scientists for southern forests.

Carbon Accumulation by U.S. Forests May Slow Over the Next 25 Years (2016)
SRS-2016-173 U.S. forests currently help offset carbon emissions and reduce the overall costs of achieving emission targets but that could change over the next 25 years. The accumulation of carbon stored in U.S. forests may slow in the future, primarily due to land use change and forest aging, according to findings by Forest Service scientists. Future declines in forest carbon sequestration could influence emission reduction targets and impact the costs of achieving policy goals. Policies that encourage retaining or expanding forest land could enhance carbon sequestration levels over the next 25 years.

Climate Change and Our Nation’s Forests: the Forests Sector Report of the Fourth National Climate Assessment (2019)
SRS-2019-29 It is very likely that more frequent extreme weather events will increase the frequency and magnitude of severe ecological disturbances, driving rapid and often persistent changes in forest structure and function across large landscapes. It is also very likely that climate change will decrease the ability of many forest ecosystems to provide important ecosystem services to society. Forest management activities that increase the resilience of U.S. forests to climate change are being implemented, with a broad range of adaptation options for different resources, including applications in planning.

Complex landscapes and extreme precipitation events: the role of forests in mitigating responses (2018)
SRS-2018-51 In many regions of the U.S., forests are a component of complex landscapes that also include developed and agricultural land uses. Watersheds where a high proportion of forested land will be converted to other land uses are most vulnerable to future climatic regimes, especially high stream flows. Recognizing that urban development and population growth will continue, Forest Service research can help prioritize forest areas to conserve within a watershed and serve as an important first step for informing land use planners and policy makers.

Drought Impacts on Forest and Rangelands in the United States: A State-of-the-Science Synthesis (2016)
SRS-2016-192 Recent droughts have contributed to insect outbreaks, tree death, reduced tree growth, increased wildfire risk and increased area burned by wildfire. These disturbances affect forest biogeochemical cycling and hydrologic processes. When combined with warmer air temperatures, droughts could have an even greater impact on forests and ranges. Forest Service scientists and their research partners recently edited a large-scale synthesis on the prospect of increasing frequency and severity of future droughts. Management actions can either mitigate or exacerbate the effects of drought. This synthesis establishes the scientific foundation needed to manage forests for drought resiliency and adaptation.

Forest Service Scientists Assess Potential Impacts of Eucalyptus on Water Resources in the Southern U.S. (2014)
SRS-2014-162 At the request of the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the Center for Integrated Forest Science led interdisciplinary analyses to predict where freeze- tolerant Eucalyptus could be planted and assess the potential impacts on water resources. Novel econometric models predicted the potential for as many as 2.8 million acres of Eucalyptus plantations in the southern U.S. Hydrologic analyses suggested that this level of conversion would have negligible impacts on water resources at larger watershed scales; however, local impacts were possible depending upon the hydrological conditions of the planting site and surrounding area.

New research reveals that mixed land use watersheds are most vulnerable to forest loss (2017)
SRS-2017-168 Forest Service scientists developed a novel land use model and integrated modeling framework that represents a significant advancement for evaluating the potential effects of climate and land use change at scales necessary to inform policy and management decision-making. Their findings indicate that land use change was particularly influential in a mixed land use watershed, which is especially important for identifying areas where hydrologic responses are most sensitive to land use change. This study emphasizes the importance of integrated modeling to predict future water resources, including impacts from land use change, climate change, forest dynamics, and hydrological processes.

Science in supports of the National Climate Assessment (2014)
SRS-2014-167 A synthesis of research findings provided the foundation for the analysis of climate change on forest conditions, land use, and forest carbon in the Third National Climate Assessment released by the White House in 2014.

Scientists Develop a New Approach for Identifying Human Communities at Risk from Climate and Land Use Change (2019)
SRS-2019-22 Identifying vulnerable human communities is critical for climate change planning and mitigation. USDA Forest Service scientists at the agency's Southern Research Station and cooperators used a risk matrix to link projected streamflow with socioeconomic metrics. The approach identified watersheds where human communities may be at high risk due to future changes in climate and land use.

Water yield following forest to grass to forest transitions (2017)
SRS-2017-152 Forested watersheds are important sources of drinking water. However, species identity affects water yield from deciduous forests. Through old-field succession, changes in species composition over time determine how much precipitation leaves the watershed as evapotranspiration versus water yield.

R&D Affiliations
Experimental Forests and Ranges
External Resources