Jimmy Nelson

Jimmy Nelson
  • Faculty
  • Associate Director of the Institute for Coastal and Water Research
  • Associate Professor


Dr. James (Jimmy) Nelson is an interdisciplinary scientist most interested in the fish related components of marine ecosystems. He uses a combination of field surveys, experimental approaches, stable isotope analysis, and mathematical modeling to quantify the functional role of marine organisms in mediating energy flow, biogeochemical cycles, and community structure.


B.Sc. 2004
Florida State University

Ph.D. 2011
Florida State University

Student Research/Collaboration

Dr. Nelson's research interests are in 

  • Coastal Ecosystems and Conservation
  • Fish
  • Food webs
  • Movement of animals
  • Habitat change
  • Restoration


  • James, W. R., Santos, R. O., Rodemann, J. R., Rezek, R. J., Fratto, Z. W., Furman, B. T., ... & Nelson, J. A. 2022. Widespread seagrass die-off has no legacy effect on basal resource use of seagrass food webs in Florida Bay, USA. ICES Journal of Marine Science.
  • Santos, R. O., James, W. R., Nelson, J. A., Rehage, J. S., Serafy, J., Pittman, S. J., & Lirman, D. 2022. Influence of seascape spatial pattern on the trophic niche of an omnivorous fish. Ecosphere, 13(2), e3944.
  • James, W. R. +, Santos, R. O., Rehage, J. S., Doerr, J. C., & Nelson, J. A. 2022. E‐scape: Consumer‐specific landscapes of energetic resources derived from stable isotope analysis and remote sensing. Journal of Animal Ecology, 91(2), 381-390.
  • Osland, M. J., Hughes, A. R., Armitage, A. R., Scyphers, S. B., Cebrian, J., Swinea, S. H., Nelson, J.A.,… & Bardou, R. 2022. The impacts of mangrove range expansion on wetland ecosystem services in the southeastern United States: Current understanding, knowledge gaps, and emerging research needs. Global Change Biology.
  • Lesser, J. S. +, Floyd, O. +, Fedors, K. *, Deegan, L. A., Johnson, D. S., & Nelson, J. A. (2021). Cross-habitat access modifies the ‘trophic relay in New England saltmarsh ecosystems. Food Webs, 29, e00206.
  • Babitch, J. W. +, Nelson, J. A., Deegan, L. A., Sullivan, H. +, & Stauffer, B. A. 2021. Resolving Estuarine Nitrogen Use by Phytoplankton Communities Using a Whole Ecosystem Tracer Approach. Estuaries and Coasts, 44(7), 1883-1898.
  • Ziegler, S. L., R. Baker, S. C. Crosby, M. A. Barbeau, J. Cebrian, D. D. Colombano, R. M. Connolly, L. A. Deegan, B. L. Gilby, D. Mallick, C. W. Martin, J. A. Nelson, J. F. Reinhardt, C. Simenstad, N. J. Waltham, T. A. Worthington, L. P. Rozas. 2021. Geographic variation in salt marsh structure and function for nekton: finding commonality across multiple scales, Estuaries and Coasts https://doi.org/10.1007/s12237-020-00894-y
  • Sloey, T. M., Roberts, B. J., Flaska, S. R., & Nelson, J. A. 2021. Critical Research Gaps for Understanding Environmental Impacts of Discharging Treated Municipal Wastewater into Assimilation Wetlands. Wetlands, 41(1), 1-14.
  • Pittman, S. J., Yates, K. L., Bouchet, P. J., Alvarez-Berastegui, D., Andréfouët, S., Bell, S. S., Nelson, J.A. ... & Young, M. 2021. Seascape ecology: identifying research priorities for an emerging ocean sustainability science. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 663, 1-29.
  • Nelson, J. A., J. M Harris+, J. S. Lesser+, W. R. James+, G. M. Suir, W. P. Broussard, 2020. New mapping metrics to test functional response of food webs to coastal restoration, Food Webs 25, e00179
  • Rezek, R. J., J.A. Massie, J.A. Nelson, R. O. Santos, N. M. Viadero, R. E. Boucek, and J. S. Rehage, 2020. Individual consumer movement mediates food web coupling across a coastal ecosystem, Ecosphere 11:12: e03305
  • Bowen, J.L, A. E. Giblin, A. E. Murphy, A. N. Bulseco, L. A. Deegan, D. S. Johnson, J.A. Nelson, T. J. Mozdzer, and H. L. Sullivan, 2020. Not all nitrogen is created equal: Differential effects of nitrate and ammonium enrichment in coastal wetlands, BioScience 70:12, pg 1108-1119
  • Baker, R., M.D. Taylor, K. W. Able, M. W. Beck, J. Cebrian, D. D. Colombano, R. M. Connolly, W.R. James+, J.S. Lesser+, J.A. Nelson, et al. 2020. Fisheries Rely on Threatened Salt Marshes. Science, 370 (6517): 670 https://doi.org/10.1126/science.abe9332.
  • Harris, J.M. +, W.R. James+, J.S. Lesser+, J.C. Doerr, J.A. Nelson, 2020. Foundation Species shift alters the energetic landscape of Marsh Nekton, Estuaries and Coasts, https://doi.org/10.1007/s12237-020-00852-8
  • Lesser, J.S. +, C. A. Bechtold*, L. A. Deegan, J. A. Nelson, 2020. Habitat decoupling via saltmarsh creek geomorphology alters connection between spatially-coupled food webs. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, Volume 241, 106825, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecss.2020.106825
  • Lesser, J.S.+, W.R. James+, C.D. Stallings, R.M. Wilson, J.A. Nelson, 2020. Trophic

Awards & Recognition

  • 2021 Outstanding Doctoral Student Mentor College of Sciences UL Lafayette
  • 2021 Excellence in Externall Funded Research UL Lafayette
  • 2020 Outstanding Achievement in Externally Funded Research UL Lafayette
  • 2020 Fritz Lang BoRSF Endowed Professor of Environmental Biology
  • 2019 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Gulf Research Program Early Career Fellow
  • 2017 Louisiana Sea Grant LADIA Fellowship
  • 2015 U.S. Department of the Interior Climate Science Center Research Fellow