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James Grace


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Short Biography

Jim Grace obtained his B.S. in Biology from Presbyterian College in South Carolina, his M.S. from Clemson University, and his Ph.D. from Michigan State University. After graduate school, he held faculty positions at the University of Arkansas and Louisiana State University, where he reached the level of Full Professor. He currently holds an Adjunct Professorship in Biology at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette. In 2000, he received the millennium Meritorious Research Award from the Society of Wetland Scientists and in 2003 received the National Science Excellence Award from the U.S. Geological Survey. He was selected to be a Fellow of the Ecological Society of America and promoted to the Senior Scientist ranks in 2014. He has published over 180 papers and reports, including 3 books, one on competitive interactions, one on community analysis, and one on structural equation modeling. Latest news releases related to our work (last 5 yrs) can be found at:


Nature News Highlight for Grace et al. (2016) Nature

Altmetric summary of press for Grace et al. (2016) Nature

USGS Press Release for Grace et al. (2016)

Fester, T. Animated abstract for Grace et al. (2016) Nature

National Science Foundation Long-term Ecological Research News Highlight (2016)

Editor's Choice - Landscape and Urban Planning (2016)

News Article in The Atlantic on our urban planning work.

Elected Fellow of the Ecological Society of America (2014):

The Great Productivity-Diversity Debate:

Recommended Reading by Faculty of 1000 (2014):  

Nature (2013):  
News Coverage (2013): 
USGS News Releases (2013):

Science Perspectives piece (2011):

National Science Foundation press release (2011):

USGS News Release (2010):

Press (2010):

News (2010):

Conservation Maven (2010):

USGS Genetics Program News Pick (2010):


For more news and information, search "Jim Grace USGS".

Additional information in publications can be found at my Google Scholar Profile:


Training website for structural equation modeling:

Read Full Professional Summary

Download CV


Grace, J.B., Anderson, T.M., Seabloom, E.W., Borer, E.T. Adler, P.B., Harpole, W.S., et al. 2016. Integrative modelling reveals mechanisms linking productivity and plant species richness. Nature 529:390–393. [Link]

Tredennick, A.T., Adler, P.B., Grace, J.B., Harpole, W.S., Borer, E.T., Seabloom, E.W., Anderson, T.M., et al. 2016. Comment on "Worldwide evidence of a unimodal relationship between productivity and plant species richness." Science 351:457-a [Link]

Jiménez-Alfaro, B., Chytrý, M., Mucina, L., Rejmánek, M., and Grace, J.B. 2016. Disentangling vegetation diversity from climate-energy and habitat heterogeneity for explaining animal geographic patterns. Ecology and Evolution doi:10.1002/ece3.1972.

Ewing, R. Hamidi, S., Grace, J.B. 2016. Does urban sprawl hold down upward mobility? Landscape and Urban Planning 148:80-88. [Link]

Grace, J.B. 2015. Taking a systems approach to ecological systems. Journal of Vegetation Science 26:1025-1027. [Link]

Ewing, R., Hamidi, S., Grace, J.B. 2015. Compact development and VMT – Environmental determinism, self-selection, or some of both? Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design (in press).

Eldridge, D.J., Beecham, G., and Grace, J.B. 2015. Do shrubs reduce the adverse effects of grazing on soil properties? Ecohydrology 8:1503-1513. [Link]

Harrison, S.P., Cornell, H., and Grace, J.B. 2015. Does natural variation in diversity affect biotic resistance? Journal of Ecology. 103:1099-1106. [Link]

Miller, J.E.D., Damschen, E.I., Harrison, S.P., and Grace, J.B. 2015. Landscape structure affects specialists but not generalists in naturally fragmented grasslands. Ecology 96:3323-3331. [Link]

Osland, M.J., Enwright, N.M., Day, R.H., Gabler, C.A., Stagg, C.L., and Grace, J.B. 2015. Beyond just sea-level rise: considering macroclimatic drivers within coastal wetland vulnerability assessments to climate change. Global Change Biology 22:1-11. [Link]

Eisenhauer, N., Bowker, M. A., Grace, J. B., and Powell, J. R. 2015. From patterns to causal understanding: Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) in soil ecology. Pedobiologia 58:65-72. [Link]

Grace, J.B., Scheiner, S.M., Schoolmaster, D.R. Jr. 2015. Structural equation modeling: building and evaluating causal models. Chapter 8 In: Fox, G.A., Negrete-Yanlelevich, S., and Sosa, V.J. (eds.) Ecological Statistics: From Principles to Applications. Oxford University Press. [Link]

Grace, J.B., Adler, P.B., Harpole, W.S., Borer, E.T., and Seabloom, E.W. 2014 Causal networks clarify productivity–richness interrelations, bivariate plots do not. Functional Ecology, 28:787-798. [Link]

Mitchell, B.R., Tierney, G.L., Schweiger, E.W., Miller, K.M., Faber-Langendoen, D. and Grace, J.B. 2014. Getting the message across: Using ecological integrity to communicate with resource managers. In: In: Guntenspergen, G.R. (ed.) Application of Threshold Concepts in Natural Resource Decision Making. Springer Verlag. [Link]

Spasojevic, M.J., Grace, J.B., Harrison, S., and Damschen, E.I. 2014. Functional diversity supports the physiological tolerance hypothesis for plant species richness along climatic gradients. Journal of Ecology 102:447-455. [Link]

Ewing, R. , Hamidi, S., Gallivan, F., Nelson, A.C., and Grace, J.B. 2014. Structural equation models of VMT growth in U.S. urbanized areas. Urban Studies, 51:3079-3096. [Link]

Chambers, J.C., Bradley, B.A., D’Antonio, C., Germino, J.B., Grace, J.B., Hardegree, S.P., Miller, R.F., and Pyke, D.A. 2014. Resilience to stress and disturbance and resistance to alien grass invasions in the cold desert of Western North America. Ecosystems. 17:360-375. [Link]

Chambers, J.C., Miller, R.F., Board, D.I., Pyke, D.A., Roundy, B.A., Grace, J.B., Schupp, E.W., Tausch, R.J. 2014. Resilience and resistance of sagebrush ecosystems: Implications for state and transition models and management treatments. Rangeland Ecology & Management – Special Issue. 67:440-454. ( [Link]

Arkle, R. S., D. S. Pilliod, S. E. Hanser, M. L. Brooks, J. C. Chambers, J. B. Grace, K. C. Knutson, D. A. Pyke, J. L. Welty, and T. A. Wirth. 2014. Quantifying restoration effectiveness using multi-scale habitat models: implications for sage-grouse in the Great Basin. Ecosphere 5(3):31. [Link]

Knutson, K.C., Pyke, D.A., Wirth, T.A., Arkle, R.S., Pilliod, D.S., Brooks, M.L., Chambers, J.C., and Grace, J.B. 2014. Long-term effects of seeding after wildfire on vegetation composition in Great Basin shrubland ecosystems. J. Applied Ecology doi: 10.1111/1365-2664.12309 [Link]

McIver, J.D., Brunson, M., Bunting, S., Chambers, J., Doescher, P., Grace, J., Hulet, A., Johnson, D., Knick, S., Miller, R., Pierson, F., Pyke, D., Rau, B., Rollins, K., Roundy, B., Schupp, E., Tausch, R., and Williams, J. 2014. A Synopsis of Short-term Response to Alternative Restoration Treatments in Sagebrush-Steppe: the SageSTEP Project. Rangeland Ecology & Management. 67:584-598. [Link]

Grace, J.B., Schoolmaster, D.R. Jr., Schweiger, E.W., Mitchell, B.R., Miller, K., and Guntenspergen, G.R. 2014. Connecting the dots: a collaborative USGS-NPS effort to expand the utility of monitoring data. George Wright Forum 31:181-190. [Link]

Ewing, R., Hamidi, S., Grace, J.B. 2014. Urban sprawl as a risk factor in motor vehicle crashes. Urban Studies 53:247-266. DOI: 10.1177/0042098014562331). [Link]

Ewing, R., Hamidi, S., Gallivan, F., Nelson, A.C., and Grace, J.B. 2014. Combined effects of compact development, transportation investments, and road user pricing on vehicle miles traveled in urbanized areas. Transportation Research Record 2397:117-124. [Link]

Somers, K.A., Bernhardt, E.S., Grace, J.B., Hassett, B.A., Sudduth, E.B., Wang, S., and Urban, D.L. 2013. Streams in the urban heat island: Spatial and temporal variability in temperature. Freshwater Science 32:309-326. [Link]

de Mazencourt, C., Isbell, F., Larocque, A., Berendse, F., De Luca, E., Grace, J.B., Haegeman, B., Polley, H.W., Roscher, C., Schmid, R., Tilman, D., van Ruijven, J., Weiglt, A., Wilsen, B.J., and Loreau. M. 2013. Predicting ecosystem stability from community composition and biodiversity. Ecology Letters 16:617-625. [Link]

Whalen, M.A., Duffy, J.E. and Grace, J.B. 2013. Temporal shifts in top-down versus bottom-up control of epiphytic algae in a seagrass ecosystem. Ecology 94:510-520. [Link]

Reisner, M.D., Grace, J.B., Pyke, D.A., Doescher, P.S. 2013. Conditions favoring Bromus tectorum dominance of endangered sagebrush steppe ecosystems. Journal of Applied Ecology doi:10.1111/1365-2664.12097. [Link]

Dettweiler-Robinson, E., Bakker, J.D., and Grace, J.B. 2013. Controls of biological soil crust cover and composition shift with succession in sagebrush shrub-steppe. Journal of Arid Environments. 94:96-104. [Link]

Schoolmaster, D.R. Jr., Grace, J.B., Schweiger, E.W., Mitchell, B.R., and Guntenspergen, G.R. 2013. A causal examination of the effects of confounding factors on multimetric indices. Ecological Indicators 29:411-419. [Link]

Chen, D., Lan, Z., Bai, X., Grace, J.B., and Bai, Y. 2013. Evidence that acidification-induced declines in plant diversity and productivity are mediated by changes in below-ground communities and soil properties in a semi-arid steppe grassland. Journal of Ecology 101:1322-1334. [Link]

Laliberte, E., Grace, J.B., Huston, M.A., Lambers, H., Teste, F.P., Turner, B.L., and Wardle, D.A. 2013. How does pedogenesis drive plant diversity? Trends in Ecology and Evolution. 28: 331-340. [Link]

Schoolmaster, D.R. Jr., Grace, J.B., Schweiger, E.W., Guntenspergen, G.R., Mitchell, B.R., Miller, K.M., and Little, A.M., 2012. An algorithmic and information-theoretic approach to multimetric index construction. Ecological Indicators 23: 14-23. [Link]

Grace, J.B., Schoolmaster, D.R. Jr., Guntenspergen, G.R., Little, A.M., Mitchell, B.R., Miller, K.M., and Schweiger, E.W. 2012. Guidelines for a graph-theoretic implementation of structural equation modeling. Ecosphere 3(8): article 73 (44 pages). [Link]

Grace, J.B., P.B. Adler, E.W. Seabloom, E.T. Borer, J. Jillebrand, Y. Hautier, A. Hector, W.S. Harpole, L.R. O’Halloran, et al. 2012. Towards a multivariate representation of the multiple mechanisms controlling productivity and diversity: Responses to comments on “Productivity is a poor predictor of plant species richness.” Science 335:1441. DOI: 10.1126/science.1214939. [Link]

Cardinale, B.J., Duffy, J.E., Gonzalez, A. Hooper, D.U., Perrings, C., Venail, P., Narwani, A., Mace, G.M., Tilman, D., Wardle, D.A., Kinzig, A.P., Daily, G.C., Loreau, M., Grace, J.B., Larigauderie, A., Srivastava, D., and Naeem, S. 2012. Biodiversity loss and its impact on humanity. Nature - Review 486:59-67. [Link]

Schoolmaster, D.R. Jr., Grace, J.B., and Schweiger, E.W. 2012. A general theory of multimetric indices and their properties. Methods in Ecology and Evolution. 3:773-781. [Link]

Matteson, K.C., Grace, J.B., and Minor, E.S. 2012. Direct and indirect effects of land use on floral resources and flower-visiting insects across an urban landscape. Oikos 122:682-694. [Link]

Grace, J.B., Keeley, J., Johnson, D., and Bollen, K.A. 2012. Structural equation modeling and the analysis of long-term monitoring data. pp 325-358. In: Gitzen, R.A., Millspaugh, J.J., Cooper, A.B., and Licht, D.S. Design and Analysis of Long-Term Ecological Monitoring Studies. Cambridge University Press. [Link]

McKee, K.L. and Grace, J.B., 2012, Effects of prescribed burning on marsh-elevation change and the risk of wetland loss: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2012-1031, 51 p. [Link]

Chambers, J., R. Miller, and J.B. Grace. 2012. Understanding the importance of resilience and resistance to the restoration of sagebrush rangelands. SageSTEP News, Issue 18, Spring 2012. [Link]

Grace, J.B., Harrison, S., and Damschen, E.I. 2011. Local richness along gradients in the Siskiyou herb flora: R. H. Whittaker revisited. Ecology 92:108-120 [Link]

Willig, M.R. 2011 Science: Perspective on Adler et al. paper. 333:1719-1710. [Link]

Adler, P.B. et al. and Grace, J.B (total of 58 authors). 2011. Productivity is a poor predictor of plant species richness. Science 333:1750-1753. [Link]

Damschen, E.I., Harrison, S., and Grace, J.B. 2010. Climate change effects on an endemic-rich edaphic flora: resurveying Robert H. Whittaker's Siskiyou sites (Oregon, USA). Ecology 92:3609-3619. Selected as Editor's Choice, Science Magazine [Link]

Harrison, S., Damschen, E.I. and Grace, J.B. 2010. Ecological contingency in the effects of climatic warming on forest herb communities. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. early online, pnas.100623107. [subject of USGS News Release] [other press,] [Link]

McIver, J., Brunson, M., Bunting, S., Chambers, J., Devoe, N., Doescher, P., Grace, J., Johnson, D., Knick, S., Miller, R., Pellant, M., Pierson, F., Pyke, D., Rollins, K., Roundy, R., Schupp, R., Tausch, R., and Turner, D. 2010. The Sagebrush Steppe Treatment Evaluation Project (SageSTEP): A Test of State-and-Transition Theory. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mt. Res. Station Report. [Link]

Anderson, T.M., Hopcraft, J.G.C., Eby, S., Ritchie, M., Grace, J.B. and Olff, H. 2010. Landscape-scale analyses suggest both nutrient and antipredator advantages to Serengeti herbivore hotspots. Ecology 91:1519-1529. [Link]

Grace, J.B., Anderson, T.M., Olff, H., and Scheiner, S.M. 2010. On the specification of structural equation models for ecological systems. Ecological Monographs 80:67-87. [Link]

Travis, S.E. and Grace, J.B. 2010. Predicting performance for ecological restoration: a case study using Spartina alterniflora. Ecological Applications 20:192-204. [selected as Recommended Reading by the Faculty of 1000:] [featured in a Research Brief by Conservation Maven:] [Link]

Editor's Choice. 2010. Narrow niches and nowhere to go. Highlight of Damschen, Harrison, and Grace paper in Ecology 91:3609-3619. Science Magazine [Link]

USGS News Release. 2010. Mountain vegetation impacted by climate change. Highlight of paper by Harrison, Damschen, and Grace 2010. Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. [Link]


My USGS Science Strategy Areas

Understanding Ecosystems & Predicting Ecosystems Change

Ecological analysis and structural equations

Jim Grace - Ecology and society are moving from a historical emphasis on individual processes to a concern about entire systems. The complexity of the world in which we live, along with the increased level of our ambitions, now cause us to want to understand systems and predict, as much as we can, their behavior. Understanding systems requires approaches that permit both the discovery and extrapolation of system structure. Analytically, systems are often represented as networks of interacting elements, thus the business of studying systems can be approached using methods for studying causal networks.
One approach to studying causal networks is structural equation modeling (SEM). From an historical perspective, the SEM currently practiced can be called “Second Generation” SEM. The first phase of development, “First Generation SEM”, was based on the path analysis methodology developed by Sewell Wright. The “Second Generation” of SEM commenced with the LISREL synthesis in the early 1970’s and continues as the dominant form of application to the present.
We believe there is now a need for a “Third Generation” of SEM that is more fundamental, more flexible, and a more complete scientific system. A more fundamental approach would permit direct specification of SE models and the flexibility to customize their properties. Current SEM software is largely based on global estimation methods that are generally powerful, but lacking in the specification flexibility that is increasingly expected by practicing scientists. Regarding completeness as a scientific system, the practice of SEM has historically been an analysis framework that emphasizes discovering network structure and testing hypotheses about networks. Increasingly there is a need to extend our work to include prediction and forecasting. We describe the implementation of next-generation SEM in:
Grace, J.B., Schoolmaster, D.R. Jr., Guntenspergen, G.R., Little, A.M., Mitchell, B.R., Miller, K.M., and Schweiger, E.W. 2012. "Guidelines for a graph-theoretic implementation of structural equation modeling." Ecosphere
In addition to advancing methodology, major topics of current emphasis include:
Global Climate Change Effects – Projects in this theme include studies of the effects of sea level rise on coastal marshes, regional vegetation shifts in California, and the role of genomics in ecosystem adaptation.
Developing Integrative Measures of Ecosystem Health - Working with the National Park Service, we have been evaluating current methods for estimating biotic integrity. We are now extending this effort to discover the linkages between human activities and ecosystem condition using SEM.
Identifying the Linkages between Stressors and Forest Health in Eastern National Parks - This work, also in collaboration with the National Park Service, seeks to further the work of their Vital Signs program using SEM to develop hypotheses about how particular forces influence individual forest health metrics.
Other Applications – Perusing the papers listed under "Publications" provides information on other applications we have been involved with.

Contact Information

James Grace
700 Cajundome Blvd
Lafayette, LA 70506
337-266-8592 - Fax
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