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James Harrison Thorp III, Ph.D.

Natural Sciences and Mathematics - Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Kansas Biological Survey
Primary office:
Higuchi Hall, 104a
University of Kansas
2101 Constant Avenue
Lawrence, KS 66047–3759
Second office:


Dr. James Thorp's research centers on the community through macrosystem ecology of freshwater systems.

Teaching Interests

  • Ecology of Rivers and Lakes
  • Marine Biology
  • Laboratory in Marine Biology
  • Biology of Freshwater Invertebrates


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 now macrosystem levels. I have also worked in ephemeral wetlands, lakes, and reservoirs. 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 global series on identifying freshwater invertebrates (Thorp and Covich's Freshwater Invertebrates). 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 river macrosystems (e.g., see The Riverine Ecosystem Synthesis, Thorp et al. 2008). This is included in a major NSF study on river macrosystems in the USA and Mongolia.

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.

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 large-scale 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

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