What? Who? How? is PBGJAM

Learn about the project, the team, and the goals of Predicting Biodiversity with a Generalized Joint Attribute Model

Biodiversity & Change

Classic species distribution models predict and explore community structures from the individual species level - often falling prey to Simpson's paradox. With PBGJAM, we seek to model whole community responses to climate change to more accurately predict the impact of both the individual species and the ecosystem as a whole.


Principal Investigators
Jim Clark and Jennifer Swenson

The impact of climate change on biological communities will depend on interactions involving the local habitat and the species that interact with one another—as each species responds directly to climate it indirectly affects all of the species with which it interacts. These species interactions complicate efforts to predict climate effects, because each species experiences habitat complexity at a different scale—from flightless insects to large vertebrates.  Current efforts focus on the effects of climate change, land cover, and soils, but do not benefit from estimates of food availability. This study will determine how diverse communities of species monitored in NEON (ground beetles, vascular plants, small mammals, birds) respond together with food supply, in the form of masting shrubs and trees, and large mammal surveys. A focus on the mast system of pulsed seed and fruit production from trees, includes vertebrate consumers, and indirect interactions with arthropod competitors and vertebrate predators. Remotely-sensed imagery and the NEON airborne observatory will be used to characterize habitat diversity.

Results of this analysis will be used to evaluate community change and reorganization, including prediction and attribution of climate risk by species and habitat and how it is shared across species groups. New data on large mammals and seed production from NEON sites will be made available to the community. The study will engage the public through citizen assisted identification of animal images.



Meet the team!

You can find out more information about individuals by linking to their personal websites, google scholar accounts, and other media.
Taylor Minnich
Master's Student

My previous work experience has mostly related to the behavioral ecology of primates - which is to say I've spent a lot of time watching monkeys.

Chase Nuñez
PhD Candidate

Chase employs field work, remote sensing, and mathematical modeling to uncover how geology, climate, and disturbance affect ecosystem function and shape forest communities predominately in the tropics.

Lane Scher
PhD Student

Lane studies community ecology and the effects of global change on species interactions. She is particularly interested in forest dynamics and regeneration in temperate regions.

Christoph Hellmayr
Post Doc

Christoph joined the project as a statistician, working on modeling aspects of the bird datasets for PBGJAM. He earned his PhD at Duke with "Non-Parametric Priors for Functional Data and Partition Labeling Models."

Christopher Kilner
PhD Student

Christopher leverages remote sensing, biogeography, Bayesian modeling, and camera traps to model current masting in North American forests and predict future effects of climate change on these systems.

Jim Clark

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.

Nicole Abib
Master's Student

Master’s Project: Bridging hydrology, ecology, and reservoir management to address environmental flow specifications from dams in a changing climate.

Brad Tomasek

Brad employs novel statistical modeling on continent-spanning observational datasets, national forest inventories from temperate regions, with the aim to understand how forest communities may respond to future climate.

Jordan Luongo
Lab Manager

Jordan serves as Lab Manager for the Clark Lab; facilitating, organizing, and executing field work across the plethora of research sites, she is an indispensable member of the comprehensive project.

John Fay

John is an instructor of the Geospatial Analysis Program at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment; he teaches courses in Advanced Geospatial Information Analysis (GIS) and Conservation GIS.

Jennifer Swenson

Jennifer Swenson studies ecological and human-induced changes with remote sensing and geospatial analysis ; she teaches courses in Remote Sensing, Conservation Geospatial Analysis, LiDAR, and land management.

Amanda Schwantes
Post Doc

Amanda is a postdoc who - in her doctoral research - explored how forests will respond to increases in droughts and heatwaves projected under climate change, by studying the impacts of the 2011 drought on the forests and woodlands of Texas.

Field Notes

Check out some photos from our work in the field to bring you models of future biodiversity turnover with climate change. You can read about the various field sites here.

Interested in Collaborating?

Reach out through our contact form if you are interested in working with our efforts to explore the impact of future climate change on community composition and turnover.
Contact us

Our Partners

PBGJAM is a collaborative project with financial and logistical support from the following partners