John W. Terborgh

James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of Environmental Sciences

3705C Erwin Rd, Durham, NC 27705-5015
Campus Box: 
Box 90381, Durham, NC 27708-0381
(919) 490-9081
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.


  • Ph.D., Harvard University 1963

  • M.A., Harvard University 1960

  • B.A., Harvard University 1958

Terborgh, J, and Terborgh, J. "ForewordForeword (PublishedPublished)." xi-xviii. January 1, 2015. Full Text

Lewis, SL, Phillips, OL, Baker, TR, Lloyd, J, Malhi, Y, Almeida, S, Higuchi, N, Laurance, WF, Neill, DA, Silva, JNM, Terborgh, J, Lezama, AT, Martínez, RV, Brown, S, Chave, J, Kuebler, C, Vargas, PN, and Vinceti, B. "Late twentieth-century trends in the structure and dynamics of South American forests." In Tropical Forests and Global Atmospheric Change. September 1, 2007. Full Text

Terborgh, JW, Davenport, LC, Belcon, AU, Katul, G, Swenson, JJ, Fritz, SC, and Baker, PA. "Twenty-three-year timeline of ecological stable states and regime shifts in upper Amazon oxbow lakes." Hydrobiologia 807, no. 1 (February 2018): 99-111. Full Text

Gomes, VHF, IJff, SD, Raes, N, Amaral, IL, Salomão, RP, de Souza Coelho, L, de Almeida Matos, FD, Castilho, CV, de Andrade Lima Filho, D, López, DC, Guevara, JE, Magnusson, WE, Phillips, OL, Wittmann, F, de Jesus Veiga Carim, M, Martins, MP, Irume, MV, Sabatier, D, Molino, J-F, Bánki, OS, da Silva Guimarães, JR, Pitman, NCA, Piedade, MTF, Mendoza, AM, Luize, BG, Venticinque, EM, de Leão Novo, EMM, Vargas, PN, Silva, TSF, Manzatto, AG, Terborgh, J, Reis, NFC, Montero, JC, Casula, KR, and Marimon, BS et al. "Species Distribution Modelling: Contrasting presence-only models with plot abundance data." Scientific reports 8, no. 1 (January 17, 2018): 1003-. Full Text

Terborgh, J, Davenport, LC, Ong, L, and Campos-Arceiz, A. "Foraging impacts of Asian megafauna on tropical rain forest structure and biodiversity." Biotropica 50, no. 1 (January 2018): 84-89. Full Text

Bagchi, R, Swamy, V, Latorre Farfan, JP, Terborgh, J, Vela, CIA, Pitman, NCA, and Sanchez, WG. "Defaunation increases the spatial clustering of lowland Western Amazonian tree communities (Accepted)." Journal of Ecology (January 1, 2018). Full Text

Phillips, OL, and Brienen, RJW. "Carbon uptake by mature Amazon forests has mitigated Amazon nations’ carbon emissions." Carbon Balance and Management 12, no. 1 (December 2017). Full Text

Terborgh, J, Huanca Nuñez, N, Alvarez Loayza, P, and Cornejo Valverde, F. "Gaps contribute tree diversity to a tropical floodplain forest." Ecology 98, no. 11 (November 2017): 2895-2903. Full Text

Johns, D, Terborgh, J, Beazley, KF, Estes, JA, Foreman, D, Miller, B, Noss, R, Soulé, M, and Ripple, WJ. "We Need a Biologically Sound North American Conservation Plan." BioScience 67, no. 8 (August 2017): 685-686. Full Text

Terborgh, J, and Peres, CA. "Do Community-Managed Forests Work? A Biodiversity Perspective." Land 6, no. 2 (June 2017): 22-22. Full Text

Esquivel-Muelbert, A, Baker, TR, Dexter, KG, Lewis, SL, ter Steege, H, Lopez-Gonzalez, G, Monteagudo Mendoza, A, Brienen, R, Feldpausch, TR, Pitman, N, Alonso, A, van der Heijden, G, Peña-Claros, M, Ahuite, M, Alexiaides, M, Álvarez Dávila, E, Murakami, AA, Arroyo, L, Aulestia, M, Balslev, H, Barroso, J, Boot, R, Cano, A, Chama Moscoso, V, Comiskey, JA, Cornejo, F, Dallmeier, F, Daly, DC, Dávila, N, Duivenvoorden, JF, Duque Montoya, AJ, Erwin, T, Di Fiore, A, Fredericksen, T, and Fuentes, A et al. "Seasonal drought limits tree species across the Neotropics." Ecography 40, no. 5 (May 2017): 618-629. Full Text

Levis, C, Costa, FRC, Bongers, F, Peña-Claros, M, Clement, CR, Junqueira, AB, Neves, EG, Tamanaha, EK, Figueiredo, FOG, Salomão, RP, Castilho, CV, Magnusson, WE, Phillips, OL, Guevara, JE, Sabatier, D, Molino, J-F, López, DC, Mendoza, AM, Pitman, NCA, Duque, A, Vargas, PN, Zartman, CE, Vasquez, R, Andrade, A, Camargo, JL, Feldpausch, TR, Laurance, SGW, Laurance, WF, Killeen, TJ, Nascimento, HEM, Montero, JC, Mostacedo, B, Amaral, IL, Guimarães Vieira, IC, Brienen, R, Castellanos, H, and Terborgh, J et al. "Persistent effects of pre-Columbian plant domestication on Amazonian forest composition." Science (New York, N.Y.) 355, no. 6328 (March 2017): 925-931. Full Text


Selected Grants

Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring at Cocha Cashu Biological Station, Manu Peru awarded by Conservation International (Principal Investigator). 2013 to 2017

From fruit to sapling: constructing a long-term, basin-wide,community-level, ontogentically & phenomenologically integra awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2008 to 2012

DISSERTATION RESEARCH: Novel Approaches to the Study of the Community Ecology of Tropical Trees awarded by National Science Foundation (Co-Principal Investigator). 2006 to 2009

Operation of a Trophic Cascade in Predator-Free Forest Fragments awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 1997 to 2005

(98-0854) Doctoral Dissertation: Large-Scale Tree Species Distributions and Habitat Associations in Amazonia: Testing Th awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 1999 to 2001

(98-0252) Dissertation Research: Abiotic and Biotic Control of Tree Regeneration: An Experimental Comparison of Sites ar awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 1998 to 2000

(95-0549) Termitaria and Avian Coexistence awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 1995 to 1996

(95-1068) Ecological Impacts of Hyperabundant Species: the Role of a Generalist Herbivore in Plant Recruitment awarded by Josiah Charles Trent Memorial Foundation (Principal Investigator). 1995 to 1996

(94-0123) Understory Colonization in a Neotropical Rain Forest awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 1994 to 1995

(92-0089) Policy Assistance on Promoting Sustainable Development and the Environment awarded by US Agency for International Development (Principal Investigator). 1990 to 1995