James S. Clark

Nicholas Professor of Environmental Science

External address: 
A221 LSRC, Durham, NC 27708
Internal office address: 
Box 90338, Durham, NC 27708-0338
(919) 613-8036


James S. Clark is Nicholas Professor of the Nicholas School of the Environment  and Professor of Statistical Science.

Clark’s research focuses on how global change affects populations, communities, and ecosystems. Current projects explore consequences of climate, CO2, and disturbance on dynamics of forests. His lab is using long-term experiments and monitoring studies to determine disturbance and climate controls on the dynamics of 20th century forests in combination with extensive modeling to forecast ecosystem change. Clark has authored over 150 refereed scientific articles and published four books, including Models for Ecological Data (Princeton, 2007), Models for Ecological Data in R (Princeton, 2007), Hierarchical Models of the Environment (Oxford, 2006), and Sediment Records of Biomass Burning and Global Change (Springer, 1997). Full publication list. Clark received a BS from the North Carolina State University in Entomology (1979), a MS from the University of Massachusetts in Forestry and Wildlife (1984), and a PhD from the University of Minnesota in Ecology (1988). Between his MS and PhD, he studied one year at the University of Göttingen under a Fulbright-DAAD fellowship. At Duke University, Clark teaches Biodiversity Science and Applications and Ecological Models & Data. He has served as Director for the Center on Global Change, and Director of Graduate Studies for the University Program in Ecology. He currently serves on the University Program of Ecology Executive Committee and chairs the Nicholas School of the Environment committees on Life Sciences and Distinguished Professorships. Clark is recipient of ESA’s William Skinner Cooper Award, for his research on barrier beach dynamics, and George Mercer Award, for studies of climate change and fire. For excellence in teaching and research, he was one of 15 scientists recognized by President Clinton with the National Science Foundation s five-yr Presidential Faculty Fellow Award. He was named an Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellow, on behalf of the Ecological Society of America. He is a Distinguished Alumnus from Natural Resources Conservation, University of Massachusetts. In 2005, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Clark has testified before congress on behalf of the Ecological Society of America and the NSF budget. He served on editorial boards for Ecology and Ecological Monographs (1996 -1999), Annual Reviews of Ecology and Systematics (1998 – 2003), Global Change Biology (1994 – 2002), Ecosystems (2003 – 2007), Trends in Ecology and Evolution (2006-), and the Journal for Agricultural, Biological, and Environmental Statistics (2010 – ) and on NSF Advisory panels for Ecology (1992 – 1997), Earth System History (1994), LTER (2000), and Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Disease (2009). He chaired ESA’s Mercer Award Committee and was Vice President for Science (1999 – 2004). He was a founding member of the Science Advisory Board of the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis.

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., University of Minnesota, Twin Cities 1988

Generative models to forecast community reorganization with climate change awarded by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Co Investigator). 2017 to 2019

Collaborative Research: Climate Change Impacts on Forest Biodiversity: Individual Risk to Subcontinental Impacts awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2012 to 2017

CDI-Type II: Integrating Algorithmic and Stochastic Modeling Techniques for Environmental Prediction awarded by National Science Foundation (Co-Principal Investigator). 2009 to 2014

Jim Clark IPA awarded by Forest Service (Principal Investigator). 2013 to 2014

Forest climate requirements change through species life history awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2013 to 2014

Pathogen Mediated Diversity and Response to Changing Climate awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2010 to 2014

Fitting Models of the Population Consequences of Acoustic Disturbance to Data from Marine Mammal Populations awarded by Office of Naval Research (Principal Investigator). 2010 to 2014

Effects of drought on competition for water in southeastern Forests awarded by Forest Service (Principal Investigator). 2009 to 2013


Schick, RS, Kraus, SD, Rolland, RM, Knowlton, AR, Hamilton, PK, Pettis, HM, Thomas, L, Harwood, J, and Clark, JS. "Effects of Model Formulation on Estimates of Health in Individual Right Whales (Eubalaena glacialis)." January 2016. 977-985. Full Text

Crowther, TW, Todd-Brown, KEO, Rowe, CW, Wieder, WR, Carey, JC, Machmuller, MB, Snoek, BL, Fang, S, Zhou, G, Allison, SD, Blair, JM, Bridgham, SD, Burton, AJ, Carrillo, Y, Reich, PB, Clark, JS, Classen, AT, Dijkstra, FA, Elberling, B, Emmett, BA, Estiarte, M, Frey, SD, Guo, J, Harte, J, Jiang, L, Johnson, BR, Kröel-Dulay, G, Larsen, KS, Laudon, H, Lavallee, JM, Luo, Y, Lupascu, M, Ma, LN, Marhan, S, Michelsen, A, Mohan, J, Niu, S, Pendall, E, Peñuelas, J, Pfeifer-Meister, L, Poll, C, and Reinsch, S et al. "Quantifying global soil carbon losses in response to warming." Nature 540.7631 (November 2016): 104-108. Full Text

Clark, JS, Iverson, L, Woodall, CW, Allen, CD, Bell, DM, Bragg, DC, D'Amato, AW, Davis, FW, Hersh, MH, Ibanez, I, Jackson, ST, Matthews, S, Pederson, N, Peters, M, Schwartz, MW, Waring, KM, and Zimmermann, NE. "The impacts of increasing drought on forest dynamics, structure, and biodiversity in the United States." Global change biology 22.7 (July 2016): 2329-2352. (Review) Full Text

Schliep, EM, Gelfand, AE, Clark, JS, and Zhu, K. "Modeling change in forest biomass across the eastern US." Environmental and Ecological Statistics 23.1 (March 2016): 23-41. Full Text

Ghosh, S, Zhu, K, Gelfand, AE, and Clark, JS. "Joint Modeling of Climate Niches for Adult and Juvenile Trees." Journal of Agricultural, Biological, and Environmental Statistics 21.1 (March 2016): 111-130. Full Text

Rolland, RM, Schick, RS, Pettis, HM, Knowlton, AR, Hamilton, PK, Clark, JS, and Kraus, SD. "Health of North Atlantic right whales Eubalaena glacialis over three decades: from individual health to demographic and population health trends." Marine Ecology Progress Series 542 (January 19, 2016): 265-282. Full Text

Berdanier, AB, and Clark, JS. "Multiyear drought-induced morbidity preceding tree death in southeastern U.S. forests." Ecological Applications 26.1 (January 2016): 17-23. Full Text

Oedekoven, C, Fleishman, E, Hamilton, P, Clark, JS, and Schick, RS. "Expert elicitation of seasonal abundance of North Atlantic right whales Eubalaena glacialis in the mid-Atlantic." Endangered Species Research 29.1 (November 4, 2015): 51-58. Full Text