Photo of James T. (Jt) Vogt

James T. (Jt) Vogt

Project Leader / Supervisory Biological Scientist
320 Green Street
Athens, GA 30602-1530
Phone: 706-559-4272

Current Research

  • Invasive ants, and ants as ecological indicators
  • Effects of biotic and abiotic disturbance on forest arthropods
  • Impact and control of woody invasive plant species

Research Interests

I have a growing interest in invasive plant species – their distribution, control, and effects on ecosystems. I have ongoing studies with multiple partners to evaluate the effects of disturbance (severe weather, non-native plant invasion, management activities) on forest pests, pollinators, and ground-dwelling arthropods. My primary interest is currently Asian needle ant, a stealthy forest invader that is dissimilar to other invasive ant species in the US. This ant species is not only a threat to ecosystems due to its ability to displace native ants that provide important ecological services, it is a threat to human health due to its stinging behavior.

Past Research

I have conducted extensive basic and applied research on urban pest insects, in particular imported fire ants and other ant species. Over an approximate 10 year period I authored or co-authored more than 40 peer-reviewed publications on subjects ranging from flight capabilities of imported fire ants to fire ant impacts in the peanut agroecosystem. I also have extensive experience in pest management research, testing numbered compounds and different formulations for efficacy against pest insects.

Why This Research is Important

Callery pear and other invasive plants are generating a host of problems for forests and grasslands. Research is needed to understand and alleviate their effect on native plant species, arthropod biodiversity, forest operations, and recreation. We also need to understand where invasive plants are likely to thrive and become a major problem so we can focus our efforts on those areas.

Ants are among the most abundant arthropods in many ecosystems. They may positively or negatively influence native and invasive plants (e.g., negatively by tending homoptera, positively by preying on herbivorous insects). They may be affected by several factors influenced by invasive plants – shade, nectar availability, availability of other resources, complexity of the physical environment. They are important in multitrophic interactions, and may serve as indicator organisms for overall ecosystem health.

Forest ecosystems are subjected to a wide array of disturbances. Disturbance is a necessary agent of change, and many forest types and tree species are adapted to specific disturbances (e.g., longleaf pine savannah and fire). Unintended wildfires, tropical cyclones, non-native plant invasions, and some management activities are all disturbances that can generate negative effects. Understanding how disturbances influence forest pest populations can help land managers better prepare or alter management regimes for better outcomes. Increasing our knowledge around disturbance and other arthropod groups will shed light on forest resilience and how disturbance might alter ecosystem services provided by those arthropods.


Ph.D. in Entomology, 1999
Auburn University
M.S. in Entomology, 1992
University of Tennessee-Knoxville
B.S. in Biology, 1990
Tusculum College

Professional Organizations

  • Entomological Society of America, Member (1992—Current)
  • Entomological Society of America, Certified Entomologist (2010—2014)

Awards and Recognition

Director's Award for FIA Excellence, 2017
National award “…for outstanding effort in establishing the value of the National FIA Program and information to the entomological and forest health communities.”
Tennessee Wildlife Federation Conservation Education Award, 2015
Team award for progress at Carpenter's Elementary Outdoor Environmental Learning Area
Director's Poster Competition Award, 2014
$25,000 in support of Outdoor Environmental Education Classroom, Carpenter's Elementary, Blount County, TN. From Director, Southern Research Station.
USDA Agricultural Research Service Postdoctoral Research Associate Program, 2006
$100,000 awarded over 2 years to support postdoctoral researcher. From Director, Mid-south Area.
Robert T. Gast Award, 1999
$500 awarded competitively by Southeastern Branch, Entomological Society of America, for oral presentation.
Southeastern Branch, Entomological Society of America MS Student Award, 1991
$200 awarded competitively by Southeastern Branch, Entomological Society of America, for oral presentation.

Featured Publications and Products


Research Highlights

How Do Insects, Diseases, and Weather Disturbances Interact? An Assessment of Current Knowledge for the South (2020)
SRS-2020-27 Forests in the northern and western U.S. and Europe have been well-studied in terms of wind disturbance and subsequent insect infestations. However, those relationships are not as clear in the southern U.S. USDA Forest Service researchers synthesized the state-of-the-knowledge around weather disturbances and their interactions with forest pests and pathogens in the South. While some phloem-feeding bark beetles increase in dead and dying trees following disturbance, there are no published data supporting anecdotal reports that southern pine beetle may reach outbreak status as a result of weather disturbances.  

R&D Affiliations
Research Topics
Priority Areas
SRS Science Area
External Resources