James Burnham


2017: Ph.D., Forest and Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

2007: M.Sc., Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development, University of Wisconsin-Madison

1999: B.A., Denison University, Biology, Minor in East Asian Studies/Chinese

Research interests

I study the wintering ecology of endangered cranes and other waterbirds in two areas of China: Poyang Lake, and Napahai wetland in Yunnan Province. In my work, I link field-based observation of wintering waterbirds to satellite imagery analysis. My goal is to understand how these wetlands change over time and what those changes mean for wintering waterbirds, other wildlife and human users of the system. Click here to see my 1 hour 2017 Ph.D. exit seminar, and to see a 5 minute, informal talk that I gave at a local watering hole in 2016 about what I do, click here.

Personal interests

I'm interested in anything that gets me outside. In the summer this usually takes the form of running, biking, rock climbing, hiking, back country camping and ultimate frisbee. In the winter it's skiing, more running, more biking and feeble attempts to stay upright on a pair of ice skates. I also enjoy birding year round, helping out with prescribed burns to restore prairie or oak savannah habitats when I can and hunting for turkey and deer in the spring and fall. I'm big on traveling and I am particularly interested in the languages, cultures and histories of China and Mongolia. Born and raised next door to Atlanta, I'm a sucker for good southern cooking, particularly fried chicken, peach cobbler and sweet tea.

Where I'm From