Justin Prouty Wright

Associate Professor in the Department of Biology

258 Biological Sciences, Durham, NC 27708
Campus Box: 
Box 90338, Durham, NC 27708-0338
(919) 613-8096
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.


  • Ph.D., Cornell University 2002

  • B.A., Williams College 1996

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. Full Text

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. Full Text

Reese, AT, Cho, EH, Klitzman, B, Nichols, SP, Wisniewski, NA, Villa, MM, Durand, HK, Jiang, S, Midani, FS, Nimmagadda, SN, O'Connell, TM, Wright, JP, Deshusses, MA, and David, LA. "Antibiotic-induced changes in the microbiota disrupt redox dynamics in the gut." Elife 7 (June 19, 2018). Full Text Open Access Copy

Fridley, JD, and Wright, JP. "Temperature accelerates the rate fields become forests." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 115, no. 18 (May 2018): 4702-4706. Full Text

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. Full Text

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. Full Text

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. Full Text

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) Full Text

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. Full Text

Ames, GM, Anderson, SM, Ungberg, EA, and Wright, JP. "Functional traits of the understory plant community of a pyrogenic longleaf pine forest across environmental gradients." Ecology. 98, no. 8 (August 2017): 2225-. Full Text


Selected Grants

Community Coalescence: Disentangling Assembly Processes using Aquatic Microbial Communities awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2018 to 2020

Collaborative Research: Salinization of the inland coastal plain through saltwater intrusion: landscapes in transition awarded by National Science Foundation (Co-Principal Investigator). 2015 to 2019

Birds-eye view on canopy stress from saltwater intrusion: integrating drone imagery and satellite remote sensing to aid coastal wetland restoration awarded by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Principal Investigator). 2017 to 2018

DISSERTATION RESEARCH: Synthesizing the Mass-Ratio and Novel-Traits Hypotheses to Explain Variability in the Impact of awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2014 to 2018

Collaborative Research: Testing a conceptually-driven framework to predict variability in the ecosystem awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2014 to 2018

Using Functional traits to inform plant conservation efforts awarded by U.S. Army Research, Development & Engineering Command (Principal Investigator). 2015 to 2017

Plant Ecophysiology under Extreme Climate Events awarded by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (Principal Investigator). 2016 to 2017

Collaborative Research: Will Climate Change Alter Rates of Old Field Succession Across the U.S. Eastern Deciduous Forest awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2011 to 2016

Cross-scale Assessment of Ecological Resilience to Altered Fire Regimes awarded by U.S. Army Research, Development & Engineering Command (Principal Investigator). 2011 to 2015