James S. Clark

James S. Clark

Nicholas Professor of Environmental Science

Secondary Appointment

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.

In The News


Usinowicz, J, Chang-Yang, C-H, Chen, Y-Y, Clark, JS, Fletcher, C, Garwood, NC, Hao, Z, Johnstone, J, Lin, Y, Metz, MR, Masaki, T, Nakashizuka, T, Sun, I-F, Valencia, R, Wang, Y, Zimmerman, JK, Ives, AR, and Wright, SJ. "Temporal coexistence mechanisms contribute to the latitudinal gradient in forest diversity." Nature 550, no. 7674 (October 2017): 105-108.

Kim, D, Oren, R, Clark, JS, Palmroth, S, Oishi, AC, McCarthy, HR, Maier, CA, and Johnsen, K. "Dynamics of soil CO2 efflux under varying atmospheric CO2 concentrations reveal dominance of slow processes." Global change biology 23, no. 9 (September 2017): 3501-3512.

Schliep, EM, Gelfand, AE, Clark, JS, and Tomasek, BJ. "Biomass prediction using a density-dependent diameter distribution model." The Annals of Applied Statistics 11, no. 1 (March 2017): 340-361.

Clark, JS, Nemergut, D, Seyednasrollah, B, Turner, PJ, and Zhang, S. "Generalized joint attribute modeling for biodiversity analysis: median-zero, multivariate, multifarious data." Ecological Monographs 87, no. 1 (February 2017): 34-56.

Sánchez Goñi, MF, Desprat, S, Daniau, A-L, Bassinot, FC, Polanco-Martínez, JM, Harrison, SP, Allen, JRM, Anderson, RS, Behling, H, Bonnefille, R, Burjachs, F, Carrión, JS, Cheddadi, R, Clark, JS, Combourieu-Nebout, N, Mustaphi, CJC, Debusk, GH, Dupont, LM, Finch, JM, Fletcher, WJ, Giardini, M, González, C, Gosling, WD, Grigg, LD, Grimm, EC, Hayashi, R, Helmens, K, Heusser, LE, Hill, T, Hope, G, Huntley, B, Igarashi, Y, Irino, T, Jacobs, B, Jiménez-Moreno, G, Kawai, S, Kershaw, AP, and Kumon, F et al. "The ACER pollen and charcoal database: a global resource to document vegetation and fire response to abrupt climate changes during the last glacial period." Earth System Science Data 9, no. 2 (2017): 679-695.

Recent Grants


UPE 702: Ecological Perspectives: Ecophys to Ecosystems (UPE 702: Ecological Perspectives: Ecophys to Ecosystems)
BIOLOGY 711S: Ecology Seminar (BIOLOGY 711S: Ecology Seminar)
BIOLOGY 665: Bayesian Inference for Environmental Models (BIOLOGY 665: Bayesian Inference for Environmental Models)
ENVIRON 593: Independent Studies and Projects (ENVIRON 593: Independent Studies and Projects)
BIOLOGY 842: Ecological Perspectives: Ecophys to Ecosystems (BIOLOGY 842: Ecological Perspectives: Ecophys to Ecosystems)

Contact Information

Box 90338
Durham, NC 27708-0338
Durham, NC 27708


Ph.D., University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (1988)