Justin Prouty Wright

Associate Professor 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

Simonin, Marie, Kristofor A. Voss, Brooke A. Hassett, Jennifer D. Rocca, Si-Yi Wang, Raven L. Bier, Christy R. Violin, Justin P. Wright, and Emily S. Bernhardt. “In search of microbial indicator taxa: shifts in stream bacterial communities along an urbanization gradient..” Environmental Microbiology, May 24, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1111/1462-2920.14694. 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, April 6, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcz039. Full Text

Firn, Jennifer, James M. McGree, Eric Harvey, Habacuc Flores-Moreno, Martin Schütz, Yvonne M. Buckley, Elizabeth T. Borer, et al. “Leaf nutrients, not specific leaf area, are consistent indicators of elevated nutrient inputs..” Nature Ecology & Evolution 3, no. 3 (March 2019): 400–406. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-018-0790-1. 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, January 1, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10021-019-00350-4. Full Text

Reese, Aspen T., Fátima C. Pereira, Arno Schintlmeister, David Berry, Michael Wagner, Laura P. Hale, Anchi Wu, et al. “Microbial nitrogen limitation in the mammalian large intestine..” Nat Microbiol 3, no. 12 (December 2018): 1441–50. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41564-018-0267-7. Full Text

Lee, M. R., S. L. Flory, R. P. Phillips, and J. P. Wright. “Site conditions are more important than abundance for explaining plant invasion impacts on soil nitrogen cycling.” Ecosphere 9, no. 10 (October 1, 2018). https://doi.org/10.1002/ecs2.2454. Full Text

Hassett, B. A., E. B. Sudduth, K. A. Somers, D. L. Urban, C. R. Violin, S. Y. Wang, J. P. Wright, R. M. Cory, and E. S. Bernhardt. “Pulling apart the urbanization axis: patterns of physiochemical degradation and biological response across stream ecosystems.” Freshwater Science 37, no. 3 (September 1, 2018): 653–72. https://doi.org/10.1086/699387. Full Text

Hodapp, Dorothee, Elizabeth T. Borer, W Stanley Harpole, Eric M. Lind, Eric W. Seabloom, Peter B. Adler, Juan Alberti, et al. “Spatial heterogeneity in species composition constrains plant community responses to herbivory and fertilisation..” Ecol Lett 21, no. 9 (September 2018): 1364–71. https://doi.org/10.1111/ele.13102. Full Text

Koltz, Amanda M., Aimée T. Classen, and Justin P. Wright. “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): E7541–49. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1808754115. 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

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

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 2019

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