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Joe Fargione

Joe Fargione

Lead Scientist, North America Region

Joe Fargione’s research seeks ways to balance human energy and food demands with environmental conservation. Current projects include 1) analyzing the potential impacts from land and water use by energy development, including oil and gas drilling using hydraulic fracturing; 2) land use modeling to inform policies and conservation investments to achieve multiple benefits, for both nature and people; 3) developing methods to quantify the avoided CO2 emissions from protecting grasslands that are at risk of conversion to cropland; and 4) updating conservation planning methods to increase the effectiveness and scale of conservation projects. 

Download Joe's CV (PDF)

Read Joe Fargione's Full Biography

Studies by Joe

Win-Win for Wind and Wildlife

Authored by Conservancy Scientists Kiesecker, Fargione and Evans, in addition to a handful of others, the ‘Win-Win for Wind’ report could serve as a road-map for renewable energy development.

Articles by Joe

Joe in the News



Is Nature in Trouble in the United States?
A new study from Nature Conservancy scientists ups the ante for funding conservation efforts.

Win-Win for Wind and Wildlife
Authored by Conservancy Scientists Kiesecker, Fargione and Evans, in addition to a handful of others, the ‘Win-Win for Wind’ report could serve as a road-map for renewable energy development.

New Study Shows Converting Land for Biofuels May Worsen Global Warming
More Carbon Lost than Gained When Converting Land for Biofuels Crops; Findings Have Major Implications for Climate Change Policy


Creutzig F, NH Ravindranath, G Berndes, S Bolwig, R Bright, F Cherubini, H Chum, E Corbera, M Delucchi, A Faaij, J Fargione, H Haberl, G Heath, O Lucon, R Plevin, A Popp, C Robledo-Abad, S Rose, P Smith, A Stromman, S Suh,O Masera. 2014. Bioenergy and climate change mitigation: an assessment. Global Change Biology Bioenergy. DOI: 10.1111/gcbb.12205

Jungers JM, CC Sheaffer, J Fargione, C Lehman. 2014. Short-term harvesting of biomass from conservation grasslands maintains plant diversity. Global Change Biology Bioenergy. DOI: 10.1111/gcbb.12195

Rowe HI, J Fargione, JD Holland. 2013. Prairie restorations can protect remnant tallgrass prairie plant communities. American Midland Naturalist. 170(1): 26-38.

Banerjee S, S Secchi, J Fargione, S Polasky, S Kraft. 2013. How to sell ecosystem services: a guide for designing new markets. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 11(6): 297-304

Jungers JM, JE Fargione, CC Sheaffer, DL Wyse, C Lehman. 2013. Energy potential of biomass from conservation grasslands in Minnesota, USA. PLoS One 8(4): e61209. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0061209

McDonald RI, JD Olden, J Opperman, WM Miller, J Fargione, C Revenga, J Higgins, and J Powell. 2012. Energy, water and fish: Biodiversity impacts of energy-sector water demand in the United States depend on efficiency and policy measures. PLoS One. 7(11): e50219. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0050219

Fargione J, J Kiesecker, J Slaats, S Olimb. 2012. Wind and wildlife in the Northern Great Plains: Identifying low-impact areas for wind development. PLoS One. 7(7): e41468. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0041468

Craine JM, TW Ocheltree, JB Nippert, EG Towne, AM Skibbe, SW Kembel, JE Fargione. 2012. Global diversity of drought tolerance and grassland climate-change resilience. Nature Climate Change DOI: 10.1038/NCLIMATE1634

Gough, L, KL Gross, EE Cleland, CM Clark, SL Collins, JE Fargione, SC Pennings, KN Suding. 2012. Incorporating clonal growth form clarifies the role of plant height in response to nitrogen addition. OECOLOGIA 169(4): 1053-1062

Obermeyer B, R Manes, J Kiesecker, J Fargione, and K Sochi. 2011. Development by Design: Mitigating Wind Development’s Impacts on Wildlife in Kansas. PLoS One 6(10): e26698. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0026698

Swaty R, K Blankenship, S Hagen, J Fargione, J Smith, and J Patton. 2011. Accounting for ecosystem alteration doubles estimates of conservation risk in the conterminous United States. PLoS One 6(8): e23002

Fargione J, C Lehman, and S Polasky. 2011. Entrepreneurs, chance, and the deterministic concentration of wealth. PLoS One 6(7): e20728

Wiens J, J Fargione, and J Hill. 2011. Biofuels and biodiversity. Ecological Applications 21: 1085-1095[doi:10.1890/09-0673.1]

Kiesecker JM, JS Evans, J Fargione, K Doherty, KR Foresman, TH Kunz, D Naugle, NP Nibbelink, and ND Niemuth. 2011. Win-win for wind and wildlife: A vision to facilitate sustainable development. PLoS One: 6(4): e17566. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0017566

Cleland EE, CM Clark, SL Collins, JE Fargione, L Gough, KL Gross, SC Pennings, and KN Suding. 2011. Patterns of trait convergence and divergence among native and exotic species in herbaceous plant communities are not modified by nitrogen enrichment. Journal of Ecology. 99(6): 1327-1338.

Fargione JE, RJ Plevin, and JD Hill. 2010. The ecological impact of biofuels. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 41:351–77

Collins SL, JE Fargione, CL Crenshaw, E Nonaka, JT Elliott, and WT Pockman. 2009. Rapid plant community responses during the summer monsoon to nighttime warming in a Northern Chihuahuan Desert grassland. Journal of Arid Environments doi:10.1016/j.jaridenv.2009.10.005

Opperman, J, GE Galloway, J Fargione, J Mount, BD Richter, and S Secchi. 2009. Sustainable floodplains through large-scale reconnection to rivers. Science 326: 1487-1488

Fargione J, TR Cooper, DJ Flaspohler, J Hill, C Lehman, T McCoy, S McLeod, EJ Nelson, KS Oberhauser, and D Tilman. 2009. Bioenergy and Wildlife: Threats and Opportunities for Grassland Conservation. BioScience 59: 767-777

McDonald RI, J Fargione, J Kiesecker, WM Miller, and J Powell. 2009. Energy sprawl or energy efficiency: Tradeoffs in U.S. climate policy effects on natural habitats. PLoS One 4(8): e6802

Ravindranath NH, R Manuvie, J Fargione, JG Canadell, G Berndes, J Woods, H Watson, and J Sathaye. 2009. Green House Gas Implications of Land Use and Land Conversion to Biofuel Crops. Pages 111-125, in Scope Biofuels Report (B. Howarth, editor)

Dybzinski R, J Fargione, DR Zak, D Fornara, and D Tilman. 2008. The fertility effect: resource supply increases across an experimental plant species diversity gradient. Oecologia 158: 85–93

Collins SL, KN Suding, EE Cleland, M Batty, SC Pennings, KL Gross, JB Grace, L Gough, JE Fargione, and CM Clark. 2008. Rank clocks and plant community dynamics. Ecology 89: 3534-3541

Fargione JE, J Hill, D Tilman, S Polasky, P Hawthorne. 2008. Land clearing and the biofuel carbon debt. Science 319: 1235-1238

Cleland EE, CM Clark, SL Collins, JE Fargione, L Gough, KL Gross, DG Milchunas, SC Pennings, WD Bowman, IC Burke, WK Lauenroth, GP Robertson, JC Simpson, D Tilman, and KN Suding. 2008. Data paper: Species responses to nitrogen fertilization in herbaceous plant communities, and associated species traits. Ecology 89: 1175

Clark CM, EE Cleland, SL Collins, JE Fargione, L Gough, KL Gross, SC Pennings, KN Suding, and JB Grace. 2007. Environmental and plant community determinants of species loss following nitrogen enrichment. Ecology Letters 10: 596-607

Fargione J, D Tilman, R Dybzinski, J Hille Ris Lambers, C Clark, WS Harpole, JMH Knops PB Reich, and M Loreau. 2007. From selection to complementarity: Shifts in the causes of biodiversity-productivity relationships in a long-term biodiversity experiment. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 274: 871-876

Baez S, J Fargione, DI Moore, SL Collins, and JR Gosz. 2007. Nitrogen deposition in the northern Chihuahuan desert: Temporal trends and potential consequences. Journal of Arid Environments 68: 640-651

Diaz S, J Fargione, FS Chapin III, and D Tilman. 2006. Biodiversity loss threatens human well-being. PLoS Biology 4: 1300-1305

Fargione J, and D Tilman. 2006. Predicting relative yield and abundance in competition with plant species traits. Functional Ecology 20: 533-540

Diaz S, D Tilman, J Fargione, et al. 2005. Biodiversity and the regulation of ecosystem services. In Millennium Ecosystem Assessment editors. Ecosystems and Human Well Being: Current State and Trends. Island Press, DC, USA

Fargione J, and D Tilman. 2005. Niche differences in phenology and rooting depth promote coexistence with a dominant C4 bunchgrass. Oecologia, 143: 598-606

Fargione J, and D Tilman. 2005. Diversity decreases invasion via both sampling and complementarity effects. Ecology Letters,8: 604-611

Craine J, J Fargione, and S Sugita. 2005. Supply preemption, not concentration reduction, is the mechanism of competition for nutrients. New Phytologist, 166: 933-940

Tilman D, C Lehman, J Hille Ris Lambers, WS Harpole, R Dybzinski, J Fargione, and C Clark. 2004. Does metabolic theory apply to community ecology? It’s a matter of scale. Ecology, 85: 1797-1799

Neuhauser C, and J Fargione. 2004. A mutualism-parasitism continuum model and its application to plant-mycorrhizae interactions. Ecological Modeling,177: 337-352

Fargione J, CS Brown, and D Tilman. 2003. Community assembly and invasion: An experimental test of neutral versus niche processes. Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences, 100: 8916-8920 (Highlighted on Minnesota Public Radio and in BioScience)

Craine JM, PB Reich, GD Tilman, D Ellsworth, J Fargione, and J Knops. 2003. The role of plant species in biomass production and response to elevated CO2 and N. Ecology Letters,6: 623-630

Fargione J, and D Tilman. 2002. Competition and coexistence in terrestrial plants. Pages 156-206 In U. Sommer and B Worm editors. Competition and Coexistence. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Germany

Tilman D, J Fargione, B Wolff, C D’Antonio, A Dobson, R Howarth, D Schindler, W Schlesinger, D Simberloff, and D Swackhamer. 2001. Forecasting agriculturally driven global environmental change. Science 292: 281-284 (Highlighted in Trends in Ecology & Evolution)

Joe Fargione is science director for The Nature Conservancy’s North America Region. Joe’s research seeks ways to balance human energy and food demands with environmental conservation. Solutions include appropriate siting of new energy development and new sources for conservation funding including compensatory mitigation payments, carbon offsets, and creating markets that value nature’s benefits.

Prior to joining The Nature Conservancy, Joe received a bachelor’s degree from Hampshire College, a PhD in Ecology from the University of Minnesota and held faculty positions at the University of New Mexico and Purdue University. Joe’s dozens of scientific publications have been cited thousands of times and have generated national media coverage, including by NBC Nightly News, Time Magazine, The New York Times, and The Onion, among others. Joe is a native of Minneapolis, MN, where he resides with his wife and children.

Download Joe's CV (PDF)


Jon Schwedler
Media Contact
Phone: (916) 769-4728

Areas of Expertise

  • Energy production
  • Land use
  • Valuing nature’s benefits

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