James Wolfe

Professor of Biology

  • 585-567-9297 ext #2970
  • Paine 306
  • Biology
Send Me An Email

  • 585-567-9297 ext #2970
  • Paine 306
  • Biology
Send Me An Email

Education:

  • Ph.D. Biology, University of Rhode Island (1988)
  • M.S. Botany, University of Oklahoma (1978) 
  • Summer Phycology course (1976)Marine Biological Laboratory
  • B.A. Biology, Gordon College (1975)

Courses Taught:

  • Field Botany
  • Local Flora and Vegetation
  • Limnology, Forest Ecology
  • Animal Ecology
  • General Ecology
  • Plant Anatomy and Physiology
  • Conservation Biology
  • General Biology 2
  • Introduction to Research
  • Senior Seminar
  • Marine Biology
  • Ecology of Alaska (Alaska field course)
  • Ecosystems of the Adirondacks.

Research Interests:

My research interests have spanned a wide range of organisms and ecosystems with a focus on community and chemical ecology. My graduate training was in the field of chemical and community ecology of microalgae and seaweeds, with my doctoral research examining such interactions in tide pools on the New England coast. Since coming to Houghton, I have done research and directed research with students on a range of ecological topics, directing Honors Senior Research theses focusing on aquatic and marine ecosystems and terrestrial forest ecosystems, investigating organisms from bacteria to phytoplankton to birds to small mammals.
Over the last decade, I have been studying lake and stream ecosystems both here in Allegany County in western New York and recently up in the Adirondacks. The changes in these freshwater systems due to human activities are of particular interest.

Several of my former students have examined a small eutrophic kettle lake (Spring Lake) near the Houghton campus looking at the role of bacteria and phytoplankton in that ecosystem and their responses to nutrient loading.

Other work has shown that Star Lake stratifies into three layers based on temperature during summer and in winter under ice cover. Maximum temperature change with depth was at 9 meters in summer 2003 and 8 meters during summer 2004. The maximum oxygen concentration during summer 2004 was at 9 meters with increased oxygen levels due to phytoplankton photosynthesis.

The water of Star Lake is relatively soft (i.e. low levels of calcium and magnesium) but still has enough buffering capacity to prevent the effects of acid rain that is a problem across the Adirondacks. The good water clarity (one can see 20 feet down) of Star Lake is due to low nutrient levels (phosphorus and nitrogen in low levels) and tight controls on shoreline development. In situ bottle studies in October 2003 and summer 2004 with additions of phosphorus and nitrogen showed a significant increase in phytoplankton growth over controls. Further bottle experiments in summer 2004 confirmed phytoplankton response to added nutrients (N and P), but only if the both N and P were added. Zooplankton observed in summer 2004 included Daphnia retrocurva, Bosmina sp., Arthrocyclops robustus, and Schistodiaptomus sp.

A novel finding of sampling during summer 2004 was an increase in chloride levels (as compared to historic measurements taken by the NYSDEC in 1985). We theorize that this increase is due to road salting during winter and groundwater flow of chlorinated drinking water.

In 2005, I worked with several students examining the response of bacteria and phytoplankton to nutrient additions. Of particular interest were the anaerobic bacteria that exist lower down in the lake and are photosynthetic. We also expanded our study to include wetlands and lakes in the nearby 107,000 acre Five Ponds Wilderness.

Professional Affiliations:

  • Ecological Society of America
  • American Society of Limnology and Oceanography
  • Nature Conservancy (former trustee, western NY chapter) 
  • Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory associate member Sigma Xi

Relevant Publications:

  • Wolfe, James M. 2003. A baseline limnological study of an alkaline lake in the northwestern Adirondacks. Ninth Research Conference on the Adirondacks, Saranac Lake, May 20-22.
  • Daniel Mund and James M. Wolfe. 1999. A limnological survey of five lakes in southeastern Connecticut. Rochester Academy of Science Fall meetings, November 4
  • Wolfe, James M. 1998. The nutrient status of Spring Lake in Allegany County, New York. New York Natural History Conference V meetings. Albany. April 25-27.
  • Wolfe, James M. and H. Stephen Lausch. 1994. The role of photosynthetic organisms in Spring Lake. Allegany County, New York. New York Natural History Conference III meetings, Albany. April 26-28.
  • Wolfe, James M. and Andrew F. Lowell. 1994. A statistical analysis of macroalgal communities in tidepools on Mount Desert Island, Maine, U.S.A. American Society of Limnology and Oceanography, San Diego. February 21-26.
  • Ashley, Eric, Lee Kats, and James M. Wolfe. 1993. Balancing trade-offs between risk and changing shoal size in northern red-belly dace (Phoxinus eos). Copeia 1993 (2): 540-542.
  • Wolfe, James M. and Andrew F. Lowell. 1993. Phosphorus dynamics in a small eutrophic lake. Rochester Academy of Science, Fall meetings. November 6.
  • Lowell, Andrew F. and James M. Wolfe. 1993. The limnology of a small hardwater lake in western New York. American Society of Limnology and Oceanography, Edmonton, Alberta. May 30 - June 3.
  • Wolfe, James M. and David Mahan. 1992. Limnology of four hardwater lakes in the Great Lakes region. American Society of Limnology and Oceanography, Santa Fe. February 9 – 14.
  • Wolfe, James M. and Andrew F. Lowell. 1992. Limnology of a small hardwater lake in western New York. New York Natural History Conference II, Albany. April 29 – May 1.
  • Wolfe, James M. and Andrew F. Lowell. 1992. Macroalgal communities in tidepools on Mount Desert Island, Maine, U.S.A. Bulletin of the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory.
  • Wolfe, James M. 1991. Ice, wind, and fire; thirteen thousand years of natural history in western New York. Houghton College Faculty Lecture Series, January 31.
  • Adams, Paul, Randy Bevis, Dan Burden, Cathy Diefenbaugh, Mark Magnusson, David Mitchell, Ken Stuart, and James Wolfe. 1991. The limnology of hardwater lakes in Kalkaska County, Michigan. Rochester Academy of Science Fall meetings, November 2.
  • Almquist, Richard Jr, Chris Bergstrom, Terry Borrowman, Rich Erickson, David Foster, John Skubinna, Mark Wright, and James Wolfe. 1989. Maintained mesotrophy in a hardwater Michigan lake. Rochester Academy of Science Fall meetings, November 4.
  • Wolfe, James M. and Marilyn M. Harlin. 1988. Tidepools in southern Rhode Island, U.S.A. I. Distribution and seasonality of macroalgae. Botanica Marina 31: 525-536.
  • Wolfe, James M. and Marilyn M. Harlin. 1988. Tidepools in southern Rhode Island, U.S.A. II. Species diversity and similarity analysis of macroalgal communities. Botanica Marina 31: 537-546.
  • Wolfe, James M. and Elroy L. Rice. Allelopathic interactions among algae. J. Chem. Ecol. 5:533-542.
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