Douglas Arthur "Doug" James was born in Detroit, Michigan, on July 25, 1925.
James attended the University of Michigan where he earned a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in zoology. He completed his Ph.D. in biology and plant ecology at the University of Illinois in 1957.
James was recruited to teach ornithology at the University of Arkansas in 1953. In 1986 he published Arkansas Birds, Their Distribution and Abundance with fellow professor, Joe Neal. James received three Fulbright International Scholars awards over the course of his career. When he retired in 2016, James was the longest-serving professor in University of Arkansas’s history.
James arranged the first meeting of the Ozark Society in 1962. He helped to found the Arkansas Audubon Society and the Arkansas Audubon Society Trust. James won the W. Frank Blair Eminent Naturalist Award from the Southwestern Association of Naturalists in 2006.
James passed away on December 17, 2018.