John W. Terborgh

John W. Terborgh

James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of Environmental Science

John W. Terborgh is a James B. Duke Professor of Environmental Science and is Co-Director of the Center for Tropical Conservation at Duke University. He is a member of the National Academy of Science, and for the past thirty-five years, he has been actively involved in tropical ecology and conservation issues. An authority on avian and mammalian ecology in neotropical forests, Dr. Terborgh has published numerous articles and books on conservation themes. Since 1973 he has operated a field station in Peru's Manu National Park where he has overseen the research of more than 100 investigators. Dr. Terborgh earlier served on the faculties of the University of Maryland and Princeton University. In June 1992 he was awarded a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship in recognition of his distinguished work in tropical ecology, and in April 1996 he was awarded the National Academy of Science Daniel Giraud Elliot medal for his research, and for his book Diversity and the Tropical Rainforest. He has served on several boards and advisory committees related to conservation, including the Wildlands Project, Cultural Survival, The Nature Conservancy, The World Wildlife Fund and both the Primate and Ecology Specialist Groups of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

In The News


Terborgh, John, Kai Zhu, Patricia Alvarez Loayza, and Fernando Cornejo Valverde. “Seed limitation in an Amazonian floodplain forest..” Ecology 100, no. 5 (May 2019).
Fauset, S., M. Gloor, N. M. Fyllas, O. L. Phillips, G. P. Asner, T. R. Baker, L. Patrick Bentley, et al. “Individual-based modeling of amazon forests suggests that climate controls productivity while traits control demography.” Frontiers in Earth Science 7 (April 18, 2019).
Levi, Taal, Michael Barfield, Robert D. Holt, and John Terborgh. “Reply to Cannon and Lerdau: Maintenance of tropical forest tree diversity..” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 116, no. 17 (April 9, 2019).
Levi, Taal, Michael Barfield, Shane Barrantes, Christopher Sullivan, Robert D. Holt, and John Terborgh. “Tropical forests can maintain hyperdiversity because of enemies..” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 116, no. 2 (January 2019): 581–86.
Esquivel-Muelbert, Adriane, Timothy R. Baker, Kyle G. Dexter, Simon L. Lewis, Roel J. W. Brienen, Ted R. Feldpausch, Jon Lloyd, et al. “Compositional response of Amazon forests to climate change..” Global Change Biology 25, no. 1 (January 2019): 39–56.

Recent Grants


ENVIRON 899: Master's Project (ENVIRON 899: Master's Project)

Contact Information

3705C Erwin Rd
Durham, NC 27705-5015
Box 90381
Durham, NC 27708-0381


Ph.D., Harvard University (1963)
M.A., Harvard University (1960)
B.A., Harvard University (1958)