Understanding our environment

James H. Thorp

Senior Scientist, Kansas Biological Survey
Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Primary office:
785-864-1532
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
  • 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.
  • Thorp, J. H., D. C. Rogers. 2010. Field Guide to Freshwater Invertebrates of North America.
  • Thorp, J. H., J.E. Flotemersch, M.D. Delong, A.F. Casper, M.C. Thoms, F. Ballantyne, B. O'Neill, C.S. Haase. 2010. Linking ecosystem services, rehabilitation, and river hydrogeomorphology. Bioscience 60(1):67-74.
  • Thorp, J. H., A.P. Covich, W.W. Dimmick. 2010. Introduction to invertebrates of inland waters. Ecology and Classification of North American Freshwater Invertebrates. Burlington, MA:Academic Press (Elsevier). 1-23.
  • Thorp, J. H., A.P. Covich. 2010. An overview of inland aquatic habitats. Ecology and Classification of North American Freshwater Invertebrates. Chapter Chapter 2. Burlington, MA:Academic Press (Elsevier). 25-47.
  • Thorp, J. H., A.P. Covich. 2010. Ecology and Classification of North American Freshwater Invertebrates. Ecology and Classification of North American Freshwater Invertebrates. Burlington, MA:Academic Press (Elsevier).
  • Thorp, J. H., G.A. Lamberti, A.F. Casper. 2010. St. Lawrence River. Field Guide to Rivers of North America. Chapter Chapter 22. Academic Press (Elsevier). 418-435.
  • Covich, A.P., J. H. Thorp, D. C. Rogers. 2010. Introduction to the subphylum Crustacea. Ecology and Classification of North American Freshwater Invertebrates. Chapter 19. Burlington, MA:Academic Press (Elsevier). 695-723.
  • Covich, A. P., J. H. Thorp & D. C. Rogers. 2010. Introduction to the subphylum Crustacea, In: Thorp, J. H. & A. P. Covich (editors) Ecology and Classification of North American Freshwater Invertebrates, 3rd edition. Academic Press, pp. 695–723.