James McGraw, Ph.D.
Dr. McGraw’s research focuses on the effects of regional and global environmental change on plant populations. Recent work has focused primarily on studies of America’s premier wild harvested medicinal plant – American ginseng – a native perennial herb of the forest understory over much of eastern North America. Harvest of wild ginseng to supply the Asian traditional medicine market has led to its listing on CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species), but overbrowsing by deer, and climate change are also threatening the long-term viability of the species. Using a long-term demographic data set of unprecedented geographic and temporal breadth, McGraw’s lab uses ginseng as a ‘phytometer’ of the many ways humans are affecting the natural world. Current students are studying effects of mining, timbering and general forest disturbance on ginseng, as well as carrying out studies of basic population processes such as seed dispersal.