James Brendan Heffernan

James Brendan Heffernan

Assistant Professor of Ecosystem Ecology and Ecohydrology

Chair, Water Resources Management Program

I am interested in major changes in ecosystem structure, particularly in streams, rivers and wetlands. My work focuses on feedbacks among ecological, physical, and biogeochemical processes, and uses a wide range of tools and approaches. I am particularly interested in projects that address both basic ecological theory and pressing environmental problems. Increasingly, we are applying tools and theories developed for local ecosystems to better understand ecological patterns and mechanisms at regional and continental scales.

In The News


Trammell, Tara L. E., Diane E. Pataki, Christopher J. Still, James R. Ehleringer, Meghan L. Avolio, Neil Bettez, Jeannine Cavender-Bares, et al. “Climate and lawn management interact to control C4 plant distribution in residential lawns across seven U.S. cities..” Ecological Applications : A Publication of the Ecological Society of America 29, no. 4 (June 2019). https://doi.org/10.1002/eap.1884.
Dong, X., A. B. Murray, and J. B. Heffernan. “Ecohydrologic feedbacks controlling sizes of cypress wetlands in a patterned karst landscape.” Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 44, no. 5 (April 1, 2019): 1178–91. https://doi.org/10.1002/esp.4564.
Zhang, X., T. S. Bianchi, M. J. Cohen, J. B. Martin, C. J. Quintero, A. L. Brown, A. M. Ares, et al. “Initiation and Development of Wetlands in Southern Florida Karst Landscape Associated With Accumulation of Organic Matter and Vegetation Evolution.” Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, January 1, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1029/2018JG004921.
Braswell, A. E., and J. B. Heffernan. “Coastal Wetland Distributions: Delineating Domains of Macroscale Drivers and Local Feedbacks.” Ecosystems, January 1, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10021-018-0332-3.
Appling, Alison P., Jordan S. Read, Luke A. Winslow, Maite Arroita, Emily S. Bernhardt, Natalie A. Griffiths, Robert O. Hall, et al. “The metabolic regimes of 356 rivers in the United States..” Scientific Data 5 (December 11, 2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/sdata.2018.292.

Recent Grants


ENVIRON 790: Special Topics (ENVIRON 790: Special Topics)
ENVIRON 823: Ecological Resilience and Ecosystem Management (ENVIRON 823: Ecological Resilience and Ecosystem Management)
ENVIRON 744: Ecology and Conservation of Streams and Rivers (ENVIRON 744: Ecology and Conservation of Streams and Rivers)
ENVIRON 391: Independent Study (ENVIRON 391: Independent Study)
ENVIRON 646: Urban Ecology (ENVIRON 646: Urban Ecology)

Contact Information

Durham, NC 27708
9 Circuit Drive, Box 90328
Durham, NC 27708


Ph.D., Arizona State University (2007)