Justin Wright

Justin Wright

Assistant Professor

Primary Appointment

Biology Department

My research focuses on understanding the causes and consequences of patterns of biological diversity across the planet. I am particularly interested in two broad questions: 1)How does the modification of the environment by organisms affect community structure and ecosystem function? and 2) what aspects of biodiversity matter most in the regulation of ecosystem function? While much of my research has focused on wetland plant communities, I am willing to study any organism and work in any ecosystem to answer the questions that interest me. I have worked in systems ranging from tropical streams to desert shrublands. My research program combines observational and experimental approaches with modeling to develop and test hypotheses and build towards synthetic ecological theory.

In The News


Reese, AT, Pereira, FC, Schintlmeister, A, Berry, D, Wagner, M, Hale, LP, Wu, A, Jiang, S, Durand, HK, Zhou, X, Premont, RT, Diehl, AM, O'Connell, TM, Alberts, SC, Kartzinel, TR, Pringle, RM, Dunn, RR, Wright, JP, and David, LA. "Microbial nitrogen limitation in the mammalian large intestine." Nature Microbiology (October 29, 2018).

Lee, MR, Flory, SL, Phillips, RP, and Wright, JP. "Site conditions are more important than abundance for explaining plant invasion impacts on soil nitrogen cycling." Ecosphere 9, no. 10 (October 1, 2018).

Hodapp, D, Borer, ET, Harpole, WS, Lind, EM, Seabloom, EW, Adler, PB, Alberti, J, Arnillas, CA, Bakker, JD, Biederman, L, Cadotte, M, Cleland, EE, Collins, S, Fay, PA, Firn, J, Hagenah, N, Hautier, Y, Iribarne, O, Knops, JMH, McCulley, RL, MacDougall, A, Moore, JL, Morgan, JW, Mortensen, B, La Pierre, KJ, Risch, AC, Schütz, M, Peri, P, Stevens, CJ, Wright, J, and Hillebrand, H. "Spatial heterogeneity in species composition constrains plant community responses to herbivory and fertilisation." Ecology Letters 21, no. 9 (September 2018): 1364-1371. (Letter)

Koltz, AM, Classen, AT, and Wright, JP. "Warming reverses top-down effects of predators on belowground ecosystem function in Arctic tundra." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 115, no. 32 (August 2018): E7541-E7549.

Hassett, BA, Sudduth, EB, Somers, KA, Urban, DL, Violin, CR, Wang, S-Y, Wright, JP, Cory, RM, and Bernhardt, ES. "Pulling apart the urbanization axis: patterns of physiochemical degradation and biological response across stream ecosystems." Freshwater Science (July 17, 2018): 000-000.

Recent Grants


BIOLOGY 361LS: Field Ecology (BIOLOGY 361LS: Field Ecology)
BIOLOGY 792: Research (BIOLOGY 792: Research)
ENVIRON 575L: Biodiversity Science and Application (ENVIRON 575L: Biodiversity Science and Application)
BIOLOGY 493: Research Independent Study (BIOLOGY 493: Research Independent Study)
ENVIRON 361LS: Field Ecology (ENVIRON 361LS: Field Ecology)

Contact Information

Box 90338
Durham, NC 27708-0338
258 Biological Sciences
Durham, NC 27708


Ph.D., Cornell University (2002)
B.A., Williams College (1996)