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
jtvogt@usda.gov

Current Research

  • Applied control of callery pear (Pyrus calleryana), an invasive plant that is becoming more prevalent across the landscape
  • Influence of landscape characteristics and management history on distribution of callery pear
  • Foraging ecology and biodiversity of ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) as they relate to forest understory and invasive shrubs
  • Utilizing Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) data to detect and characterize forest disturbance caused by insects and disease

Research Interests

I have a growing interest in invasive plant species – their distribution, control, and effects on ecosystems. I am also interested in exploring the application of FIA data to answer questions around insect pests, plant pathogens, and invasive species.

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.

FIA data represent a robust, comprehensive, statistical representation of forest conditions across the entire US. The switch from a periodic to annual inventory makes tracking of the health and growth of individual trees possible, and recent emphasis on increased urban inventory will make the FIA dataset even more applicable to questions involving invasive pests. My goal is to increase the pool of stakeholders who utilize FIA data and demonstrate the utility of our data for examining pest impacts and changes to forests over time.

Education

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

Professional Experience

Technical and Quality Control Director, Black Pest Prevention, Inc.
2009—2010

• Responsible for all training and regulatory aspects of $4.5 million Pest Prevention company. • Led company-wide, third-party certification (National Pest Management Quality Pro); certification obtained in 2009. • Wrote new Standard Operating Procedures for general pest service, implemented goals for quality control including monthly tracking of extra services. • Implemented daily reporting of reasons for extra services, resolved customer issues by educating technicians on the spot on best practices for inspection and treatment for specific pests. • Implemented customer follow-ups (phone) and enlisted help of IT specialist to create database for follow-up results; oversaw significant increase in customer satisfaction (from 70% to over 90%) through technician coaching. • Wrote and distributed “Guide to Common Pests in the Carolinas.”

Research Entomologist and Lead Scientist, USDA Agricultural Research Service
2004—2009

• Led development and implementation of externally-reviewed, 5-year, $1.7 million/year Project Plan, which was used by ARS upper management as an example for other Lead Scientists. Selected Project accomplishments included: o New time-saving tools for handling imported fire ants o Discovery of new repellent and attractant substances for imported fire ants o New information regarding effects of landscape metrics and habitat characteristics on fire ant populations o Release and establishment of classical biological control agents for imported fire ants • Partnered with Industry, obtained competitive funds, developed new remote sensing technology to quantify fire ants over large areas. Developed new object- and template-based automated detection methods. • Led two successful multi-state, multi-agency research and technology transfer efforts for biological control of imported fire ants. • Consulted with scientists from the USDA, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to establish risk factors for imported fire ant movement around ports, based on landscape characteristics and land use. • Administered successful Agency-funded cooperative agreements, including budgeting and approval of expenditures; actively pursued and secured partnerships with 1890 Institutions, Industry, Academia, and other collaborators.

Acting National Program Leader - Medical, Veterinary, and Urban Entomology, USDA Agricultural Research Service
2005—2005

• Networked extensively with National Program scientists nationwide to answer Congressional inquiries. • Approved or clarified changes in direction and/or expenditures for National Program laboratories nationwide.

Research Entomologist, USDA Agricultural Research Service
2001—2004

• Spearheaded new remote sensing research project designed to facilitate mapping of imported fire ant populations over large areas using aerial sensors and GPS/GIS technology. • Made key discoveries regarding temporal variation in fire ant mound shape and surface temperature to maximize efficiency of remote sensing efforts. • Constructed and staffed new, complex rearing facility for phorid flies that parasitize fire ants; improved rearing technology, reduced rearing costs, and transferred technology to end-users. • Led collaborators in successful establishment of biological control agents for fire ants to fulfill major objective of a multi-state, multi-agency research and demonstration program. • Developed new tools and methods to increase field research efficiency; new sampling device cut pitfall trap retrieval time by > 70% and reduced physical effort.

Fire Ant Research and Educational Specialist (post-doc), Oklahoma State University
1999—2001

• Revised regional recommendations for application of fire ant control products based upon original research on ant foraging ecology; transferred new information to homeowners, pest control operators, and others via Extension publications and public presentations. • Enhanced program visibility and image through interaction with key stakeholders such as Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association and Oklahoma Nursery and Landscape Association. • Aggressively built research and education program; partnered with Industry and obtained funding; acquired new pesticide storage facility, equipment, and sponsorship for educational meetings.

Professional Organizations

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

Awards and Recognition

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.

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