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James F. Fowler

Research Ecologist

Volunteer Research Ecologist

Address: 
2500 South Pine Knoll
Flagstaff, AZ 86001-6381
Phone: 
928-556-2172
Fax: 
928-556-2130
Contact James F. Fowler

Current Research

My current research projects address population ecology of the single mountain endemic platn species Packera franciscana and Erigeron mancus, and, on a retional scale, examine the climate change effects on timberline elevation and on over one hundred alpine plant species distribution.

Research Interests

My research studies are in plant biogeography and applied ecology, especially plant distribution along altitudinal and latitudinal gradients, alpine plant species distribution in the Southern Rocky Mountains, and ponderosa pine and Engelmann spruce tree spatial patterns.

Past Research

Past research has included studies on post-fire crown damage mortality thresholds in ponderosa pine, post-fire effects on ponderosa pine systems, exotic plant species in Northern Arizona ponderosa pine forests, vegetation ecology of Colorado Plateau hanging gardens, and fish ecology in Ozark freshwater streams.

Why This Research is Important

In the past, plant species have migrated in response to naturally changing conditions. Current global warming due to increased greenhouse gas emissions may also cause plant species to migrate or change population size as current local climatic conditions change. Land managers in the Forest Service need to know whether alpine treelines are moving upslope and which plant species may respond the most strongly to climate change. This research will provide species distribution and abundance data on which to base land management decisions.

Education

  • Southwest Missouri State University, Springfield, MO, B.S., Wildlife Conservation and Management, 1974
  • Southwest Missouri State University, Springfield, MO, M.S., Aquatic Ecology Thesis - Food habits and biology of stonerollers (Campostoma) in Southwest Missouri., 1983
  • University of Wyoming, Laramie, Ph.D., Ecology Dissertation: Biogeography of hanging gardens on the Colorado Plateau., 1995
  • Professional Experience

    Research Ecologist, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Flagstaff, AZ
    2010 to present

    Ecologist, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Flagstaff, AZ
    2002 to 2010

    Biology Instructor, State Fair Community College, Sedalia, MO
    1985 to 2001

    Featured Publications

    Publications

    Iniguez, Jose; Fowler, James F.; Moser, W. Keith; Sieg, Carolyn H.; Baggett, Scott; Shin, Patrick, 2019. Tree and opening spatial patterns vary by tree density in two old-growth remnant ponderosa pine forests in Northern Arizona, USA
    Negron, Jose; McMillin, Joel; Sieg, Carolyn H.; Fowler, James F.; Allen, Kurt K.; Wadleigh, Linda L.; Anhold, John A.; Gibson, Ken E., 2016. Variables associated with the occurrence of Ips beetles, red turpentine beetle and wood borers in live and dead ponderosa pines with post-fire injury
    Fowler, James F.; Nelson, B. E.; Hartman, Ronald L., 2014. Vascular plant flora of the alpine zone in the southern Rocky Mountains, U.S.A
    Fowler, James F.; Sieg, Carolyn H.; Casavant, Brian M.; Hite, Addie E., 2012. A tale of two single mountain alpine endemics: Packera franciscana and Erigeron mancus
    Fowler, James F.; Overby, Steven T.; Smith, Barb, 2012. Climate driven changes in Engelmann spruce stands at timberline in the La Sal Mountains
    Fowler, James F.; Sieg, Carolyn H.; Dickson, Brett G.; Saab, Victoria A., 2008. Exotic plant species diversity: Influence of roads and prescribed fire in Arizona ponderosa pine forests
    Fowler, James F.; Stanton, N. L.; Hartman, Ronald L., 2007. Distribution of hanging garden vegetation associations on the Colorado Plateau, USA
    Fowler, James F.; Sieg, Carolyn H.; Wadleigh, Linda; Haase, Sally, 2007. Effectiveness of litter removal in preventing mortality of yellow barked ponderosa pine in northern Arizona
    Sieg, Carolyn H.; McMillin, Joel D.; Fowler, James F.; Allen, Kurt K.; Negron, Jose; Wadleigh, Linda L.; Anhold, John A.; Gibson, Ken E., 2006. Best predictors for postfire mortality of ponderosa pine trees in the Intermountain West
    Old-growth ponderosa pine forests in Long Valley and Fort Valley Experimental Forests provide a window into historical spatial patterns of trees and non-forested openings.
    Researchers are increasingly recognizing that ponderosa pine forests naturally occur in clumps of trees with isolated single trees in a matrix of non-forested openings. Turns out that this spatial pattern is important in sustaining ecological processes such as fire spread, tree growth and regeneration, and creates biodiversity and wildlife habitat. Yet, most past studies have examined spatial patterns on small plots, which underestimates the sizes of tree groups and openings.
    Old-growth ponderosa pine forests in Long Valley and Fort Valley Experimental Forests provide a window into historical spatial patterns of trees and non-forested openings.
    Researchers are increasingly recognizing that ponderosa pine forests naturally occur in clumps of trees with isolated single trees in a matrix of non-forested openings. It turns out that this spatial pattern is important in sustaining ecological processes such as fire spread, tree growth and regeneration, and creates biodiversity and wildlife habitat. Yet, most past studies have examined spatial patterns on small plots, which underestimates the sizes of tree groups and openings.  
    Typical attack by wood borers to fire-injured ponderosa pine showing galleries and bark wood residue.
    Rocky Mountain Research Station scientists are looking at tools aimed to respond to insect infestations after a fire occurs, particularly around large-scale conifer forests. Different types of fire injury and tree characteristics, such as the extent of bark damage, crown injury, and tree size were correlated to infestations by different bark beetles and wood-boring insects. Some of the insects occured jointly and were associated with both live and dead trees.
    Alpine meadow from the top of Brown's Peak in the Snowy Range of Southeast Wyoming.
    A recent collaboration has resulted in a definitive list of 609 vascular plant species and subspecies found in the alpine zone of the Southern Rocky Mountains. The Southern Rockies alpine plant species list shows the geographic distribution of each species and, in a major finding, documents 25 Southern Rockies alpine endemics--species that are found nowhere else in the world. 
    It is widely known that ponderosa pine forests have a unique spatial structure. However, quantifying this pattern has been limited by small plots sizes, and little is known about how those spatial patterns changed with soil types. This study examined spatial arrangement of pre-settlement ponderosa pine on two remnant sites in northern Arizona with contrasting geology.
    Plants are a vital component of biodiversity but are facing a high rate of extinction worldwide. This research investigated plant density of a regionally rare threatened species, Packera franciscana, in order to detect current population size trends as well as establish a baseline to detect future climate change effects. Research on population stability and flowering or fruiting rates is critically important to the recovery and long-term management of P. franciscana.
    This study measured the plant species composition changes within pika (Ochotona princeps) foraging zones compared to species composition 10+ meters outside of the zone.