Dr. Robert Coulson
James is a Ph.D. student in entomology working in Dr. Coulson’s Knowledege Engineering Laboratory. He received a Master of Science in Entomology from Kansas State University in 1986 and a Bachelor of Science in Entomology from Texas A&M in 1983.
James is interested in insect ecology related to the use of insects in biological control of pest or invasive organisms. He also is interested in landscape ecology involving applications of species distribution modeling using Geographic Information Systems (GIS). James’ thesis project involves studying landscape-level interactions between introduced tamarisk beetles (Diorhabda spp.; Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) and the federally endangered southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus) that will nest in tamarisk in the southwestern U.S. Three species of tamarisk beetles were introduced into the western U.S. for biological control of invasive tamarisk along rivers from 2001–2009. Part of his research involves developing megascale (1 km resolution) species distribution models using climatic data and Old World distributions for three species of tamarisk beetles and combining these models with dispersal models to predict arrival of beetles in areas with flycatchers. Another part of research involves developing microscale (1 m resolution) flycatcher habitat suitability models for simulating both the negative effects of tamarisk beetle defoliation and tamarisk dieback and the positive effects of habitat restoration measures on the habitat suitability of the flycatchers at specific locations.
James has 22 years of experience working as a biological science technician (insects) for the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Temple, Texas in a weed biological control laboratory under Dr. C. Jack DeLoach. Their primary research involved the use of tamarisk beetles in biological control of tamarisk. While at USDA, James published a monograph on the taxonomy and biogeography of tamarisk beetles. His Master’s thesis project at Kansas State University involved studying the reproductive biologies of Ooencyrtus spp. egg parasitoids (Hymenoptera: Encyrtidae) useful in biological control of squash bugs (Anasa tristis, Heteroptera: Coreidae)