William F. Laurance

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William F. Laurance
Born (1957-10-12) 12 October 1957 (age 63)
CitizenshipJoint citizenship (US, Australia)
Alma mater University of California, Berkeley
Scientific career
Fields Biologist,
Institutions James Cook University Smithsonian Institution

William F. Laurance (born 12 October 1957), also known as Bill Laurance, [1] is Distinguished Research Professor at James Cook University, Australia and has been elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science. [2] He has received an Australian Laureate Fellowship from the Australian Research Council. [3] He held the Prince Bernhard Chair for International Nature Conservation at Utrecht University, Netherlands from 2010 to 2014. [4]


Early life

William F. Laurance grew up in the western US, in Oregon and Idaho. [5] He initially aspired to direct his own zoo, but later turned to ecology and conservation biology. [5]

Since he was interested in nature conservation, he decided in the early 1980s to study imperiled tropical forests for his PhD. During this time, he also became involved in some heated conservation issues [6] in Australia and elsewhere.

Professional career

Laurance has published eight books and over 700 scientific and popular articles. [7] These include two edited volumes, [8] [9] as well as analyses of conservation-policy challenges in the Brazilian Amazon, [10] Gabon, [11] Southeast Asia, [12] and New Guinea. [13] He has also synthesized changing trends, [14] new initiatives, [15] and major debates [16] in tropical conservation science and policy.

He is among the most highly cited scientists globally in the fields of ecology and environmental science. [17] His works have been cited more than 74,000 times, and his Hirsch's h index of 136 [17] (as per July 2021) is among the highest of any environmental scientist in the world. [17] He has published more than three dozen papers to date in Science [18] and Nature.

He has conducted long-term research across the world's tropics, from the Amazon Basin to the Asia-Pacific region and Congo Basin.

Laurance spotlighting for wildlife in the Congo Basin Billgabon.JPG
Laurance spotlighting for wildlife in the Congo Basin
Laurance inspecting wild elephant footprints in Peninsular Malaysia Billmalayasia.JPG
Laurance inspecting wild elephant footprints in Peninsular Malaysia

In his long-term studies of habitat fragmentation in the Amazon Basin, he introduced concepts, including "biomass collapse", [19] the "hyperdynamism hypothesis", [20] the "landscape-divergence hypothesis", [21] the large spatial scale of some edge effects, [22] the key role of matrix tolerance in determining species' [23] responses to fragmentation, and the importance of synergisms between fragmentation and other environmental insults. [24]

His scientific interests include assessing the impacts of deforestation, [25] logging, [26] hunting, [27] wildfires, [28] road expansion, [29] and climatic change [30] on tropical ecosystems and biodiversity.

Laurance has also studied the drivers of global amphibian declines; [31] quantifying the threats to tropical protected areas; [32] evaluating potential effects of global atmospheric changes on the species composition, dynamics; [33] and carbon storage of intact tropical forests; [34] and understanding how droughts affect tropical tree communities. [35]

Laurance is also involved with the Environmental Leadership and Training Initiative, [36] a $15 million program run by Yale University and the Smithsonian Institution to train environmental decision-makers across Latin America and Southeast Asia. Laurance also writes in popular magazines about environmental policies in the tropics. [37] [38]

Awards and honours

Laurance and Thomas Lovejoy accepting the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Ecology and Environment, in Madrid, Spain in 2009. Billlovejoy.JPG
Laurance and Thomas Lovejoy accepting the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Ecology and Environment, in Madrid, Spain in 2009.

His awards include the 2008 BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Ecology and Conservation Biology (co-winner with Thomas Lovejoy), the Heineken Environment Prize, and a Distinguished Service Award from the Society for Conservation Biology.

Fellowships and councils

Conservation and public outreach

In 2013 Laurance founded ALERT—the Alliance of Leading Environmental Researchers & Thinkers. This organization, which Laurance leads, is engaged in scientific and conservation advocacy and currently reaches 1-2 million readers[ citation needed ] each week using a range of social-media platforms. Laurance has also been involved in scores of conservation initiatives via his involvement with professional scientific societies, including the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation, Society for Conservation Biology, and American Society of Mammalogists. These include his efforts to:

Related Research Articles

Amazon rainforest Rainforest in South America

The Amazon rainforest, alternatively, the Amazon jungle or Amazonia, is a moist broadleaf tropical rainforest in the Amazon biome that covers most of the Amazon basin of South America. This basin encompasses 7,000,000 km2 (2,700,000 sq mi), of which 5,500,000 km2 (2,100,000 sq mi) are covered by the rainforest. This region includes territory belonging to nine nations and 3,344 formally acknowledged indigenous territories.

Rainforest Type of forest with high rainfall

Rainforests are characterized by a closed and continuous tree canopy, moisture-dependent vegetation, the presence of epiphytes and lianas and the absence of wildfire. Rainforest can be classified as tropical rainforest or temperate rainforest, but other types have been described.

Conservation biology Study of threats to biological diversity

Conservation biology is the study of the conservation of nature and of Earth's biodiversity with the aim of protecting species, their habitats, and ecosystems from excessive rates of extinction and the erosion of biotic interactions. It is an interdisciplinary subject drawing on natural and social sciences, and the practice of natural resource management.

Bushmeat Meat hunted in tropical forests

Bushmeat is meat from wildlife species that are hunted for human consumption. Bushmeat represents a primary source of animal protein and a cash-earning commodity for inhabitants of humid tropical forest regions in Africa, Latin America and Asia. Bushmeat is an important food resource for poor people, particularly in rural areas.

Population viability analysis (PVA) is a species-specific method of risk assessment frequently used in conservation biology. It is traditionally defined as the process that determines the probability that a population will go extinct within a given number of years. More recently, PVA has been described as a marriage of ecology and statistics that brings together species characteristics and environmental variability to forecast population health and extinction risk. Each PVA is individually developed for a target population or species, and consequently, each PVA is unique. The larger goal in mind when conducting a PVA is to ensure that the population of a species is self-sustaining over the long term.

Bald uakari Species of New World monkey

The bald uakari or bald-headed uakari is a small New World monkey characterized by a very short tail; bright, crimson face; a bald head; and long coat. The bald uakari is restricted to várzea forests and other wooded habitats near water in the western Amazon of Brazil and Peru.

Habitat destruction is the process by which a natural habitat becomes incapable of supporting its native species. The organisms that previously inhabited the site are displaced or dead, thereby reducing biodiversity and species abundance. Habitat destruction is the leading cause of biodiversity loss.

Reconciliation ecology Study of maintaining biodiversity in human-dominated ecosystems

Reconciliation ecology is the branch of ecology which studies ways to encourage biodiversity in human-dominated ecosystems. Michael Rosenzweig first articulated the concept in his book Win-Win Ecology, based on the theory that there is not enough area for all of earth’s biodiversity to be saved within designated nature preserves. Therefore, humans should increase biodiversity in human-dominated landscapes. By managing for biodiversity in ways that do not decrease human utility of the system, it is a "win-win" situation for both human use and native biodiversity. The science is based in the ecological foundation of human land-use trends and species-area relationships. It has many benefits beyond protection of biodiversity, and there are numerous examples of it around the globe. Aspects of reconciliation ecology can already be found in management legislation, but there are challenges in both public acceptance and ecological success of reconciliation attempts.

Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project

The Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project is a large-scale ecological experiment looking at the effects of habitat fragmentation on tropical rainforest. The experiment which was established in 1979 is located near Manaus in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest. The project is jointly managed by the Amazon Biodiversity Center and the Brazilian Institute for Research in the Amazon (INPA).

Lee Hannah is a conservation ecologist and a Senior Researcher in Climate Change Biology at Conservation International. Hannah is one of many authors who published an article predicting that between 15% and 37% of species are at risk of extinction due to climate change caused by human greenhouse gas emissions.

Defaunation is the global, local or functional extinction of animal populations or species from ecological communities. The growth of the human population, combined with advances in harvesting technologies, has led to more intense and efficient exploitation of the environment. This has resulted in the depletion of large vertebrates from ecological communities, creating what has been termed "empty forest". Defaunation differs from extinction; it includes both the disappearance of species and declines in abundance. Defaunation effects were first implied at the Symposium of Plant-Animal Interactions at the University of Campinas, Brazil in 1988 in the context of Neotropical forests. Since then, the term has gained broader usage in conservation biology as a global phenomenon.

Stuart Leonard Pimm is an American-British biologist and theoretical ecologist specializing in scientific research of biodiversity and conservation biology.

In ecology, extinction debt is the future extinction of species due to events in the past. The phrases dead clade walking and survival without recovery express the same idea.

Conservation behavior

Conservation behavior is the interdisciplinary field about how animal behavior can assist in the conservation of biodiversity. It encompasses proximate and ultimate causes of behavior and incorporates disciplines including genetics, physiology, behavioral ecology, and evolution.

Lian Pin Koh

Lian Pin Koh is a Singaporean conservation scientist. He is a Professor of Conservation Science, Technology and Policy in the Department of Biological Sciences, and Director of the Centre for Nature-based Climate Solutions at the National University of Singapore.

Carl F. Jordan

Carl F. Jordan is Professor Emeritus, Odum School of Ecology, University of Georgia.

Road expansion

Road expansion refers to the increasing rate at which roads are being constructed across the globe. Increases in population sizes and GDP, particularly in developing nations, are drivers of road expansion but key is transportation planning decisions. The anticipated length of new paved roads to be built between 2010 and 2050 would encircle the planet more than 600 times. Approximately 90% of new roads are being built in developing nations. Future road expansion is predicted to be greatest in Africa and South East Asia.

Road barrier effect

The barrier effect of roads and highways is a phenomenon usually associated with landscape ecology, referring to the barrier that linear infrastructure like roads c or railways place on the movement of animals. Largely viewed as a negative process, the barrier effect has also been found to have several positive effects, particularly with smaller species. To reduce a road or railway's barrier effect, wildlife crossings are regarded as one of the best mitigation options, ideally in combination with wildlife fencing. The barrier effect is closely linked to habitat fragmentation and road ecology.

Rhett Ayers Butler is an American journalist, author and entrepreneur who founded Mongabay, a conservation and environmental science news platform, in 1999.

The Hynes Award is awarded by the Society for Freshwater Science and recognizes an excellent academic research paper in the freshwater sciences by a scientist less than five years after their terminal graduate degree. Recipients of the award have gone on to become leading senior researchers, serving as science advisors to various governments and states, and held leadership positions in national and international scientific societies.


  1. "Prof Bill Laurance - Research Portfolio - James Cook University".
  2. 1 2 "Fellows elected in 2015" . Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  3. "2010 Australian Laureate Fellows – Professor William Laurance" (PDF).
  4. "Prince Bernhard Chair holders". 14 January 2015.
  5. 1 2 Laurance, William (2000). Stinging Trees and Wait-a-Whiles: Confessions of a Rainforest Biologist . Chicago: University of Chicago. p.  85. ISBN   978-0-226-46896-9. rancher.
  6. Laurance, William (2000). Stinging Trees and Wait-a-Whiles: Confessions of a Rainforest Biologist . Chicago Press.
  7. Queenborough, Simon A.; Ira R. Cooke (2011). "The Habits of Successful Ecologists, or Does Facebook count as 'outreach'?". Bulletin of the British Ecological Society. 42 (1): 40–42.
  8. Laurance, W. F., and C. A. Peres (editors) (2006). Emerging Threats to Tropical Forests. University of Chicago Press, Chicago. p. 534.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  9. Laurance, W. F., and R. O. Bierregaard Jr. (1997). Tropical Forest Remnants Ecology, Management, and Conservation of Fragmented Communities. Chicago Press. p. 616.
  10. Laurance, W. F.; Alonso, A.; Lee, M.; Campbell, P. (2006). "Challenges for forest conservation in Gabon, Central Africa". Futures. 38 (4): 454–470. doi:10.1016/j.futures.2005.07.012.
  11. Grainger, A.; Boucher, D. H.; Frumhoff, P. C.; Laurance, W. F.; Lovejoy, T.; McNeely, J.; Niekisch, M.; Raven, P.; Sodhi, N. S.; Venter, O.; Pimm, S. L. (2009). "Biodiversity and REDD at Copenhagen". Current Biology. 19 (21): R974–R976. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2009.10.001 . PMID   19922850.
  12. Laurance, W. F.; Kakul, T.; Keenan, R. J.; Sayer, J.; Passingan, S.; Clements, G. R.; Villegas, F.; Sodhi, N. S. (2011). "Predatory corporations, failing governance, and the fate of forests in Papua New Guinea". Conservation Letters. 4 (2): 95–100. doi:10.1111/j.1755-263X.2010.00156.x.
  13. Laurance, W. F. (2008). "Tipping the balance". The Ecologist: 37–41.
  14. Laurance, W. F. (2008). "Better REDD than Dead (Response from Laurance)". BioScience. 58 (8): 677. doi: 10.1641/B580819 .
  15. 1 2 Laurance, William F. (2001). "Tropical Logging and Human Invasions". Conservation Biology. 15: 4–5. doi:10.1046/j.1523-1739.2001.00_11-2.x.
  16. 1 2 3 "Citation indices for William Laurance".
  17. "Papers in Science Daily".
  18. Laurance, W. F. (1997). "Biomass Collapse in Amazonian Forest Fragments". Science. 278 (5340): 1117–1118. Bibcode:1997Sci...278.1117L. doi:10.1126/science.278.5340.1117.
  19. Laurance, W. F.; Lovejoy, T. E.; Vasconcelos, H. L.; Bruna, E. M.; Didham, R. K.; Stouffer, P. C.; Gascon, C.; Bierregaard, R. O.; Laurance, S. G.; Sampaio, E. (2002). "Ecosystem Decay of Amazonian Forest Fragments: A 22-Year Investigation". Conservation Biology. 16 (3): 605–618. doi:10.1046/j.1523-1739.2002.01025.x.
  20. Laurance, W. F.; Nascimento, H. E. M.; Laurance, S. G.; Andrade, A.; Ewers, R. M.; Harms, K. E.; Luizão, R. C. C.; Ribeiro, J. E. (2007). Bennett, Peter (ed.). "Habitat Fragmentation, Variable Edge Effects, and the Landscape-Divergence Hypothesis". PLoS ONE. 2 (10): e1017. Bibcode:2007PLoSO...2.1017L. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001017. PMC   1995757 . PMID   17925865. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  21. Laurance, W. F.; Oliveira, A. A.; Laurance, S. G.; Condit, R.; Nascimento, H. E. M.; Sanchez-Thorin, A. C.; Lovejoy, T. E.; Andrade, A.; d'Angelo, S.; Ribeiro, J. E.; Dick, C. W. (2004). "Pervasive alteration of tree communities in undisturbed Amazonian forests" (PDF). Nature. 428 (6979): 171–175. Bibcode:2004Natur.428..171L. doi:10.1038/nature02383. hdl: 2027.42/83306 . PMID   15014498.
  22. Nascimento, H. E. M.; Andrade, A. A. C. S.; Camargo, J. L. C.; Laurance, W. F.; Laurance, S. G.; Ribeiro, J. E. L. (2006). "Effects of the Surrounding Matrix on Tree Recruitment in Amazonian Forest Fragments". Conservation Biology. 20 (3): 853–860. doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2006.00344.x. PMID   16909577.
  23. Laurance, W. F.; Useche, D. C. (2009). "Environmental Synergisms and Extinctions of Tropical Species". Conservation Biology. 23 (6): 1427–1437. doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2009.01336.x. PMID   20078643.
  24. Laurance, W. F.; Albernaz, A. K. M.; Schroth, G.; Fearnside, P. M.; Bergen, S.; Venticinque, E. M.; Da Costa, C. (2002). "Predictors of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon". Journal of Biogeography. 29 (5–6): 737–748. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2699.2002.00721.x.
  25. Laurance, W. F. (1997). "Effects of logging on wildlife in the tropics". Conservation Biology. 11 (2): 311–312. doi:10.1046/j.1523-1739.1997.011002308.x.
  26. Velho, N.; Karanth, K. K.; Laurance, W. F. (2012). "Hunting: A serious and understudied threat in India, a globally significant conservation region". Biological Conservation. 148: 210–215. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2012.01.022.
  27. Laurance, W. F.; Croes, B. M.; Tchignoumba, L.; Lahm, S. A.; Alonso, A.; Lee, M. E.; Campbell, P.; Ondzeano, C. (2006). "Impacts of Roads and Hunting on Central African Rainforest Mammals". Conservation Biology. 20 (4): 1251–1261. doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2006.00420.x. PMID   16922241.
  28. Laurance, W. F. (2004). "Forest-climate interactions in fragmented tropical landscapes". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 359 (1443): 345–352. doi:10.1098/rstb.2003.1430. PMC   1693331 . PMID   15212089.
  29. Laurance, W. F.; McDonald, K. R.; Speare, R. (1996). "Epidemic Disease and the Catastrophic Decline of Australian Rain Forest Frogs". Conservation Biology. 10 (2): 406–413. doi:10.1046/j.1523-1739.1996.10020406.x.
  30. Laurance, W. F.; Useche, D.; Rendeiro, J.; Kalka, M.; Bradshaw, C. J. A.; Sloan, S. P.; Laurance, S. G.; Campbell, M.; Abernethy, K.; Alvarez, P.; Arroyo-Rodriguez, V.; Ashton, P.; Benítez-Malvido, J.; Blom, A.; Bobo, K. S.; Cannon, C. H.; Cao, M.; Carroll, R.; Chapman, C.; Coates, R.; Cords, M.; Danielsen, F.; De Dijn, B.; Dinerstein, E.; Donnelly, M. A.; Edwards, D.; Edwards, F.; Farwig, N.; Fashing, P.; et al. (2012). "Averting biodiversity collapse in tropical forest protected areas". Nature. 489 (7415): 290–294. Bibcode:2012Natur.489..290L. doi:10.1038/nature11318. hdl: 1808/11092 . PMID   22832582.
  31. Laurance, W. F. (2005). "Forest-climate interactions in fragmented tropical landscapes". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences. University Press, Oxford, U.K. 359 (1443): 31–38. doi:10.1098/rstb.2003.1430. PMC   1693331 . PMID   15212089.
  32. Phillips, O. L.; Malhi, Y.; Higuchi, N.; Laurance, W. F.; Nunez, P. V.; Vasquez, R. M.; Laurance, S. G.; Ferreira, L. V.; Stern, M.; Brown, S.; Grace, J. (1998). "Changes in the Carbon Balance of Tropical Forests: Evidence from Long-Term Plots". Science . 282 (5388): 439–442. Bibcode:1998Sci...282..439P. doi:10.1126/science.282.5388.439. PMID   9774263.
  33. Laurance, W. F.; Williamson, G. B.; Delamônica, P.; Oliveira, A.; Lovejoy, T. E.; Gascon, C.; Pohl, L. (2001). "Effects of a strong drought on Amazonian forest fragments and edges". Journal of Tropical Ecology. 17 (6): 771–785. doi:10.1017/S0266467401001596.
  34. "ELTI meeting, 2008".
  35. Laurance, W. (2007). "Comment: Cursing condoms". New Scientist. 195 (2619): 23. doi:10.1016/S0262-4079(07)62194-0.
  36. Laurance, W. F. (2005). "Razing Amazonia". New Scientist: 34–39.
  37. "Bill Laurance wins 'Outstanding Contributions to Conservation' prize, Conservation Bytes".
  38. "Six new Heineken Prizes 2012 Laureates".
  39. "Past SCB Award Recipients".
  40. Laurance, W. F.; Koster, H.; Grooten, M.; Anderson, A. B.; Zuidema, P. A.; Zwick, S.; Zagt, R. J.; Lynam, A. J.; Linkie, M.; Anten, N. P. R. (2012). "Making conservation research more relevant for conservation practitioners". Biological Conservation. 153: 164–168. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2012.05.012.
  41. Laurance, W.F. (2011). "Painting the rainforests REDD". Australian Geographic Magazine: 102–103.
  42. Laurance, W. (2008). "Theory meets reality: How habitat fragmentation research has transcended island biogeographic theory". Biological Conservation. 141 (7): 1731–1744. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2008.05.011.
  43. "JCU two join elite of researchers". James Cook University . 30 July 2012. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  44. "Award from Boise State University, 2010".
  45. "Winners of the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Ecology and Conservation Biology Category".
  46. Laurance, W. F.; Nascimento, H. E. M.; Laurance, S. G.; Andrade, A.; Ribeiro, J. E. L. S.; Giraldo, J. P.; Lovejoy, T. E.; Condit, R.; Chave, J.; Harms, K. E.; d'Angelo, S. (2006). "Rapid decay of tree-community composition in Amazonian forest fragments". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 103 (50): 19010–19014. Bibcode:2006PNAS..10319010L. doi:10.1073/pnas.0609048103. PMC   1682011 . PMID   17148598.
  47. "ATBC Presidents Since 1963".
  48. "Opening a Pandora's box".
  49. Rhett Butler (9 November 2006). "Mining in Venezuelan Amazon threatens biodiversity, indigenous groups".
  50. Laurance, W. F. (2004). "Deforestation in Amazonia". Science. 304 (5674): 1109b–1111b. doi:10.1126/science.304.5674.1109b. PMID   15155931.
  51. Laurance, W. F. (2008). "Environmental promise and peril in the Amazon". In W. Carson; S. Schnitzer (eds.). Tropical Forest Community Ecology. Blackwell Scientific, New York. pp. 458–473.
  52. "Undisputed jewels of South America".
  53. "Cache of rare and undiscovered species in Panama".
  54. "Experts: Borneo in need of urgent protection".
  55. Scharlemann, J. P. W.; Laurance, W. F. (2008). "How Green Are Biofuels?". Science. 319 (5859): 43–44. doi:10.1126/science.1153103. PMID   18174426.
  56. Laurance, W. F.; Koh, L. P.; Butler, R.; Sodhi, N. S.; Bradshaw, C. J. A.; Neidel, J. D.; Consunji, H.; Mateo Vega, J. (2010). "Improving the Performance of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil for Nature Conservation". Conservation Biology. 24 (2): 377–381. doi: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2010.01448.x . PMID   20184655.
  57. Venter, O.; Laurance, W. F.; Iwamura, T.; Wilson, K. A.; Fuller, R. A.; Possingham, H. P. (2009). "Harnessing Carbon Payments to Protect Biodiversity". Science. 326 (5958): 1368. Bibcode:2009Sci...326.1368V. doi:10.1126/science.1180289. PMID   19965752.
  58. Laurance, W. F. (2011). "China's dubious new honour". Australian Geographic Online.
  59. Laurance, W. F. (1988). "Conservacion de habitats criticos para mamiferos en el Eje Neovolcanico TransMexicano". Journal of Mammalogy. 69: 884.
  60. Laurance, W. F. (2012). "Hungry dragon". Australian Geographic Magazine: 118–119.
  61. Laurance, W. F. (2012). "Beware of the dragon: China's appetite for wood takes a heavy toll". Timber & Forestry E-News (204): 12–13.
  62. "China's appetite for wood takes a heavy toll on forests". Yale Environment 360 Magazine. 2011.
  63. Laurance, W. F. (2007). "The dragon and the rainforest". Tropinet. 18: 1–2.
  64. Laurance, W. F. (2006). "The need for China to reduce illegal timber imports". Newsletter of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
  65. Laurance, W. F. (2012). "Organised crime, illegal timber and Australia's role in deforestation". The Conversation.
  66. Laurance, W. F. (2012). "Illegal logging takes 30 football fields a minutes: Why isn't Australia acting?". The Conversation.