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U.S. Department of the Interior
U.S. Geological Survey
National Wetlands Research Center
700 Cajundome Blvd.
Lafayette, LA 70506

Contact: Gabrielle Boudreaux Bodin
Phone: 337-266-8655
Fax: 337-266-8541
For Release: August 21, 2000

USGS National Wetlands Research Center, Dr. James Grace Receive Awards

Lafayette-- The U.S. Geological Survey's National Wetlands Research Center and one of its scientists, Dr. James Grace, received two major awards from the Society of Wetland Scientists during its annual meeting last week in Quebec City, Canada.

The center received the President's Service Award recognizing significant contributions to the Society and its members. Dr. Grace received the Society's Merit Award, presented to an individual in recognition of an outstanding piece of original research, achievement or contribution to wetland science.

The society is a non-profit organization that promotes wetland science and exchange of information among its 4,000 plus members in the United States, Canada, Mexico and many other countries. The society encourages professional growth through many programs, including certification on wetland science.

Center Award

According to the society's bulletin, "The National Wetlands Research Center is internationally recognized for its scientific contributions to wetland understanding, conservation, management, and outreach. This award recognizes the center's contributions that have helped further wetland science and the goals of the society."

Dr. Robert E. Stewart, center director, accepted the award on behalf of the center. He said, "It is so gratifying for the National Wetlands Research Center to be recognized both for its contributions to the society and for the excellence of our scientific research."

Dr. Grace's Award

The society recognized Dr. Grace for his use of mathematical modeling to further the understanding of wetland diversity. These methods provide a means to assess the relative importance of the different processes operating on ecological communities and allow a way to predict their responses to changes in multiple environmental factors.

The society's bulletin stated, "His use of wetland systems as models to address basic questions in plant community ecology has produced a fundamental shift in the way ecologists approach studies of species interaction and community dynamics and provides new insights into coastal wetlands and the factors controlling wetland plant community dynamics."

Dr. Grace said, "Natural ecosystems, such as wetlands, often behave in unexpected ways, and these methods are designed to help us to understand and predict some of these complex behaviors. It is my hope that these techniques can ultimately help us to better understand and manage our precious natural resources."

Other Center Contributions

In addition to wetland research contributions, the center designed, developed and maintains the SWS Web site ( According to the bulletin the site "is an important communication link among wetland scientists worldwide" and widely informs "users about important wetland science issues, wetland conferences, training, employment opportunities" and answers "queries from individuals worldwide who are concerned about science-based conservation and management of wetland resources." James Lynch, a center scientist, is the site's web master.

The center also assists with the SWS Bulletin, sent to nearly 5,000 members and institutions worldwide. Center writer-editor Beth Vairin is co-editor of the bulletin.

Additionally, Dr. Don Cahoon, a center research scientist, is a recent president of the society and center staff members are always active at the annual meetings. This year center scientists were authors of 11 presented papers and 13 poster sessions.

Dr. Grace's Work

Dr. Grace received his Ph.D. in 1980 from Michigan State University in East Lansing with a specialty in botany and ecology. He was a faculty member at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, 1980-85, and Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, 1985-93. He has been a senior research scientist with the USGS since 1993.

Dr. Grace has served on the editorial boards of a number of scientific societies including the Ecological Society of America, International Society of Plant Ecology, Society for Aquatic Botany and the Society of Wetland Scientists.

His publications include a co-edited book on plant competition and some 70 journal articles and book chapters. Dr. Grace's work has included seminal studies that used the cattails as a model system to help us understand how plants are adapted to changing environments. He has also recently developed a consensus model about the underlying process that regulates species diversity. His current research deals with the monitoring, assessing, impact and control of invasive species.

Note to Editor: Photo of Dr. Grace is available electronically or by calling Susan Horton at 337-266-8655.

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