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 research interests focus on the ecology of rivers (primarily), smaller streams and other aquatic ecosystems where he works mostly at the community through landscape 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). Within the applied research area, he is most intrigued by how human interactions with the natural environment have altered basic ecosystem structure and functioning. At present, he is working closely with colleagues in several universities in the U.S. and overseas, federal agencies (primarily the EPA), 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, he holds an appointment as a national EPA expert.

Recent publications
  • 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, DOI: 10.1038/srep41599.
  • R.E. Bowes, J.H. Thorp, D.C. Reuman. 2017. Multivariate metrics of niche space for use with diverse analytical techniques. Scientific Reports 7, 41599. doi: 10.1038/srep41599
  • Carroll, T.M., J.H. Thorp, and K.A. Roach. 2016. Autochthony in karst spring food webs. Hydrobiologia, 776, 173-191.
  • Thorp, J.H., and R.E. Bowes (2016). Carbon sources in riverine food webs—new evidence from amino acid isotopic techniques. Ecosystems, DOI: 10.1007/s10021-016-0091-y.
  • O’Neill, B., D.C. Rogers, and J.H. Thorp. 2016. Flexibility of ephemeral wetland crustaceans: Environmental constraints and anthropogenic impacts. Wetlands Ecology and Management 24: 279-291.
  • Thorp, J.H., and D.C. Rogers. 2016. Thorp and Covich’s Freshwater Invertebrates, Volume II. Keys to Nearctic Fauna. Elsevier.
  • 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 (1): 12.
  • Thorp, J.H., and D.C. Rogers (eds.) 2015. Thorp & Covich’s Freshwater Invertebrates, 4th edition, Volume I.: Ecology and General Biology. Academic Press.
  • Williams, B., E. D’Amico, J.H. Kastens, J. Thorp, J. Flotemersch, M. Thoms. 2013. Automated riverine landscape characterization: GIS-based tools for watershed-scale research, assessment, and management. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 185: 7485-7499.
  • Thorp, J.H. & D. C. Rogers. 2011. Field Guide to Freshwater Invertebrates of North America. Academic Press. 275 pp.