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


Mitchell, RM, Wright, JP, and Ames, GM. "Species' traits do not converge on optimum values in preferred habitats." Oecologia 186, no. 3 (March 2018): 719-729.
Reese, AT, Lulow, K, David, LA, and Wright, JP. "Plant community and soil conditions individually affect soil microbial community assembly in experimental mesocosms." Ecology and Evolution 8, no. 2 (January 2018): 1196-1205.
Lind, EM, La Pierre, KJ, Seabloom, EW, Alberti, J, Iribarne, O, Firn, J, Gruner, DS, Kay, AD, Pascal, J, Wright, JP, Yang, L, and Borer, ET. "Increased grassland arthropod production with mammalian herbivory and eutrophication: a test of mediation pathways." Ecology 98, no. 12 (December 2017): 3022-3033.
Strayer, DL, D'Antonio, CM, Essl, F, Fowler, MS, Geist, J, Hilt, S, Jarić, I, Jöhnk, K, Jones, CG, Lambin, X, Latzka, AW, Pergl, J, Pyšek, P, Robertson, P, von Schmalensee, M, Stefansson, RA, Wright, J, and Jeschke, JM. "Boom-bust dynamics in biological invasions: towards an improved application of the concept." Ecology letters 20, no. 10 (October 2017): 1337-1350. (Review)
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 31, no. 4 (August 2017): 903-911.

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)