Justin Prouty Wright

Associate Professor of Biology

258 Biological Sciences, Durham, NC 27708
Campus Box: 
Box 90338, Durham, NC 27708-0338
(646) 825-1275
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

Mitchell, Rachel M., Greg M. Ames, and Justin P. Wright. “Intraspecific trait variability shapes leaf trait response to altered fire regimes.Annals of Botany 127, no. 4 (March 2021): 543–52. https://doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcaa179. Full Text

Guerrero-Ramírez, N. R., L. Mommer, G. T. Freschet, C. M. Iversen, M. L. McCormack, J. Kattge, H. Poorter, et al. “Global root traits (GRooT) database.” Global Ecology and Biogeography 30, no. 1 (January 1, 2021): 25–37. https://doi.org/10.1111/geb.13179. Full Text

Koltz, Amanda M., and Justin P. Wright. “Impacts of female body size on cannibalism and juvenile abundance in a dominant arctic spider.The Journal of Animal Ecology 89, no. 8 (August 2020): 1788–98. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2656.13230. Full Text

Kuppler, J., C. H. Albert, G. M. Ames, W. S. Armbruster, G. Boenisch, F. C. Boucher, D. R. Campbell, et al. “Global gradients in intraspecific variation in vegetative and floral traits are partially associated with climate and species richness.” Global Ecology and Biogeography 29, no. 6 (June 1, 2020): 992–1007. https://doi.org/10.1111/geb.13077. Full Text

Firn, Jennifer, James M. McGree, Eric Harvey, Habacuc Flores-Moreno, Martin Schütz, Yvonne M. Buckley, Elizabeth T. Borer, et al. “Author Correction: Leaf nutrients, not specific leaf area, are consistent indicators of elevated nutrient inputs.Nature Ecology & Evolution 4, no. 6 (June 2020): 886–91. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-020-1213-7. Full Text

Rocca, Jennifer D., Marie Simonin, Emily S. Bernhardt, Alex D. Washburne, and Justin P. Wright. “Rare microbial taxa emerge when communities collide: freshwater and marine microbiome responses to experimental mixing.Ecology 101, no. 3 (March 2020): e02956. https://doi.org/10.1002/ecy.2956. Full Text

Ury, Emily A., Steven M. Anderson, Robert K. Peet, Emily S. Bernhardt, and Justin P. Wright. “Succession, regression and loss: does evidence of saltwater exposure explain recent changes in the tree communities of North Carolina's Coastal Plain?Annals of Botany 125, no. 2 (February 2020): 255–64. https://doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcz039. Full Text

Kattge, Jens, Gerhard Bönisch, Sandra Díaz, Sandra Lavorel, Iain Colin Prentice, Paul Leadley, Susanne Tautenhahn, et al. “TRY plant trait database - enhanced coverage and open access.Global Change Biology 26, no. 1 (January 2020): 119–88. https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.14904. Full Text

Wright, J., D. DeLaMater, A. Simha, E. Ury, and C. Ficken. “Changes in Prescribed Fire Frequency Alter Ecosystem Carbon Dynamics.” Ecosystems, January 1, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10021-020-00540-5. Full Text

Cleland, E. E., E. M. Lind, N. M. DeCrappeo, E. DeLorenze, R. A. Wilkins, P. B. Adler, J. D. Bakker, et al. “Belowground Biomass Response to Nutrient Enrichment Depends on Light Limitation Across Globally Distributed Grasslands.” Ecosystems 22, no. 7 (November 1, 2019): 1466–77. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10021-019-00350-4. Full Text


Anciaux, Sarah K., Benjamin P. Colman, Emily S. Bernhardt, Justin Wright, and Bonny McGill. “Investigation of the bioaccumulation of silver nanoparticles.” In Abstracts of Papers of the American Chemical Society, Vol. 241. AMER CHEMICAL SOC, 2011.

Ewing, H. A., K. Hogan, F. Keesing, H. M. Bugmann, A. R. Berkowitz, L. J. Gross, J. T. Oris, and J. P. Wright. “The role of modeling in undergraduate education.” In Models in Ecosystem Science, edited by C. D. Canham, J. J. Cole, and W. K. Lauenroth, 413–27. PRINCETON UNIV PRESS, 2003.

Selected Grants

Community Coalescence: Disentangling Assembly Processes using Aquatic Microbial Communities awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2018 to 2021

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 2020

Modeling the Effects of Saltwater Intrusion on the Forested Wetlands of North Carolinas Coastal Plain awarded by North Carolina State University (Principal Investigator). 2018 to 2019

Modeling the Effects of Saltwater Intrusion on the Forested Wetlands of North Carolinas Coastal Plain awarded by North Carolina State University (Principal Investigator). 2018 to 2019

Using Functional traits to inform plant conservation efforts for threatened and endangered plant species on Fort Bragg, NC 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