You are here

James F. Fowler

Research Ecologist

Volunteer Research Ecologist

2500 South Pine Knoll
Flagstaff, AZ 86001-6381
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.


  • 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


    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
    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.
    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. 
    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.
    This study measured the plant species composition changes within pika (Ochotona princeps) foraging zones compared to species composition 10+ meters outside of the zone.