Understanding our environment

James H. Thorp

Senior Scientist, Kansas Biological Survey
Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Primary office:
104A Higuchi Hall


Academic degrees
Ph.D., Zoology, North Carolina State University, 1975
M.S., Zoology, North Carolina State University, 1973
B.A., Zoology, University of Kansas, 1970

Program affiliation
KU Ecosystems Research Group

Area of specialization
Aquatic community, ecosystem and macrosystem ecology

Research interests
Jim's current research interests focus on the ecology of rivers at the community to macrosystem levels. He uses diverse research approaches (conceptual, field experimental and descriptive techniques) to answer fundamental and applied environmental questions. Within the fundamental research area, he is most interested 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). His lab group is examining carbon sources and trophic relationships in food webs using CSIA-AA and bulk tissue techniques, analyses of fish traits, and the role of methane in rivers. He is also examining fundamental properties of riverine macrosystems from conceptual perspectives. Jim is very active in developing a 10- to 12-volume set of taxonomic keys to freshwater invertebrates in different bioregions of the world, as part of the series “Thorp and Covich’s Freshwater Invertebrates.” He has thus far published three volumes, and he has one volume in press and three more in preparation in that series.

Recent publications

Hamada, N., J.H. Thorp, and D.C. Rogers (eds.). 2018. Keys to Neotropical Hexapoda. Vol. III in: Thorp and Covich’s Freshwater Invertebrates, Boston. 803 pp.

Brett, M.T., S.E. Bunn, S. Chandra, A.W.E. Galloway, F. Guo, M.J. Kainz, D.C.P. Lau, P. Kankaala, T.P. Moulton, M.E. Power, J.B. Rasmussen, S.J. Taipale, J.H. Thorp, and J.D. Wehr.  2017. How important are terrestrial carbon inputs for secondary production in freshwater ecosystems? Freshwater Biology (62(5): 833-853.

Bowes, R.E., J.H. Thorp, and D.C. Reuman. 2017. Multidimensional metrics of niche space for use with diverse analytical techniques. Nature (Scientific Reports) 7: 4159; doi:10.1038/srep41599.

Thorp, J.H., and R.E. Bowes. 2016. Carbon sources in rivers--using a new method to help resolve a half-century debate. Ecosystems: doi:10.1007/s10021-016-0091-y.

Carroll, T.M., J.H. Thorp, and K.A. Roach. 2016. Autochthony in karst spring food webs. Hydrobiologia 776 (1):173-191. doi:10.1007/s10750-016-2750-6.

O'Neill, B.J., D.C Rogers, and J.H. Thorp. 2016. Flexibility of ephemeral wetland crustaceans: environmental constraints and anthropogenic impacts. Wetlands Ecology and Management 24(3): 279-291. doi 10.1007/s11273-015-9455-x.

Bowes, R.E. and J.H. Thorp. 2015. Consequences of employing amino acid vs. bulk-tissue, stable isotope analysis: a laboratory trophic position experiment. Ecosphere 6 (Issue #1; Article 14):1-12.

Carroll, T.M. and J.H. Thorp. 2014. Ecotonal shifts in diversity and functional traits in zoobenthic communities of karst springs. Hydrobiologia 738: 1-20.

O’Neill, B.J. and J.H. Thorp. 2014. Untangling food-web structure in an ephemeral ecosystem. Freshwater Biology 59: 1462-1473.

Thorp, J.H. 2014. Metamorphosis in river ecology: from reaches to macrosystems. Freshwater Biology 59: 200-210. Online in 2013 as doi:10.1111/fwb.12237.

See a complete list of Jim's publications.