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James H. Thorp

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences - Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Kansas Biological Survey
Ph.D., Zoology Dept., North Carolina State
Primary office:
Higuchi Hall
Room 104a
University of Kansas
2101 Constant Avenue
Lawrence, KS 66047–3759

Dr. James Thorp's research centers on the community and ecosystem levels of aquatic ecology.


B.A., Zoology Department, University of Kansas

Masters Program, Zoology Dept., NCSU

Ph.D., Zoology Dept., North Carolina State

Teaching Interests

  • Principles of ecology
  • River and lake ecology
  • Marine ecology


I currently have a rather wide range of research interests, and these were even broader from a historical standpoint (see my full publication list). My research is centered on the ecology of rivers (primarily), smaller streams, and other aquatic ecosystems where I work mostly at the community and ecosystem levels. However, my research studies are rapidly expanding into riverine landscape ecology and occasionally involve studies at the population level too. To some colleagues I am best known for diverse research on benthic invertebrates, while others associate me with studies of river plankton or even fish ecology because I publish in all these areas. Still others know me best for my book, The Ecology and Classification of North American Freshwater Invertebrates (edited by Thorp and Covich and soon to appear in its third edition). I enjoy using diverse research approaches (conceptual, field experimental, and descriptive techniques) to answer fundamental and applied environmental questions.

Within the fundamental research area, I am most interested at present in food web ecology and the effects of hydrogeomorphic fluctuations on the structure and functioning of riverine landscapes from the community to the full landscape level (e.g., see The Riverine Ecosystem Synthesis, Thorp et al. 2008).

Within the applied research area, I have always been most intrigued by how human interactions with the natural environment have altered basic ecosystem structure and functioning. At present, I am working closely with colleagues in several universities (in two countries), federal agencies (EPA and USACE), state environmental agencies, and non-government agencies (especially The Nature Conservancy) on two primary topics: ecosystem services and a national classification system for rivers. As part of those endeavors, I currently have an appointment as a national EPA Expert.

I am always looking for my talented colleagues with whom I can collaborate on various studies, and I am especially interested in interactions with my colleagues in other countries.

Research Interests

  • Macroecology (e.g., effects of landscape-level patch mosaics) and community ecology (e.g., food webs of rivers and vernal wetlands) of aquatic systems
  • River management theory (including ecosystem services and rehabilitation)
  • Ecology and diversity of aquatic organisms, especially inland water invertebrates

Selected Publications

Thorp, J. H. (in press). Thorp and Covich's Freshwater Invertebrates. Chapter 1. Introduction (D. Christopher Rogers). Volume III. Keys to Palaearctic Fauna. III Elsevier.

Brett, M. T., & Thorp, J. (in press). How important are terrestrial carbon inputs for secondary production in freshwater ecosystems? . Freshwater Biology

Bowes, R. E., Thorp, J. H., & Reuman, D. c. (in press). Multidimensional metrics of niche space for use with diverse analytical techniques. . Nature Scientific Reports

Thorp, J. H., & Bowes, R. E. (in press). Carbon sources in rivers - using a new method to help resolve a half-century debate. . Ecosystems

Carroll, T. M., Thorp, J. H., & Roach, K. A. (2016). Autochthony in karst spring food webs. Hydrobiologia, 776, 173-191.

O'Neill, B. J., Rogers, D. C., & Thorp, J. h. (2016). Flexibility of ephemeral wetland crustaceans: environmental constraints and anthropogenic impacts. Wetlands Ecology and Management, 24, 279--291.

Thorp, J. H., & Rogers, D. C. (2016). Thorp and Covich’s Freshwater Invertebrates. . Volume II. Keys to Nearctic Fauna .

» Show All Publications

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