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.


Lee, MR, Bernhardt, ES, van Bodegom, PM, Cornelissen, JHC, Kattge, J, Laughlin, DC, Niinemets, Ü, Peñuelas, J, Reich, PB, Yguel, B, and Wright, JP. "Invasive species' leaf traits and dissimilarity from natives shape their impact on nitrogen cycling: a meta-analysis." The New phytologist 213, no. 1 (January 2017): 128-139.
Heckman, RW, Wright, JP, and Mitchell, CE. "Joint effects of nutrient addition and enemy exclusion on exotic plant success." Ecology 97, no. 12 (December 2016): 3337-3345.
Ames, GM, Wall, WA, Hohmann, MG, and Wright, JP. "Trait space of rare plants in a fire-dependent ecosystem." Conservation biology : the journal of the Society for Conservation Biology (November 21, 2016).


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
255 Biological Sciences
Durham, NC 27708


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