William F. Laurance

William F. Laurance
Born (1957-10-12) 12 October 1957
Residence Cairns, Australia
Citizenship Joint citizenship (US, Australia)
Fields Biologist,
Institutions James Cook University
Alma mater University of California, Berkeley

William F. Laurance is Distinguished Research Professor at James Cook University, Australia and has been elected as a Fellow to the Australian Academy of Science.[1] He has received one of Australia’s highest scientific honours, an Australian Laureate Fellowship from the Australian Research Council.[2] He also has holds the Prince Bernhard Chair for International Nature Conservation at Utrecht University, Netherlands.[3]

Early life

William F. Laurance grew up in the western US, in Oregon and Idaho.[4] He initially aspired to direct his own zoo, but later turned to ecology and conservation biology.[4]

Since he was interested in nature conservation, he decided in the early 1980s to study imperilled tropical forests for his PhD. During this time, he also became involved in some heated conservation issues[5] in Australia and elsewhere.

Professional career

Professor Laurance has authored eight books and has over 500 scientific and popular articles[6] to his credit. These include two edited volumes,[7][8] as well as analyses of conservation-policy challenges in the Brazilian Amazon,[9] Gabon,[10] Southeast Asia,[11] and New Guinea.[12] He has also synthesized changing trends,[13] new initiatives,[14] and major debates[15] in tropical conservation science and policy.

He is among the most highly cited scientists globally (top 0.001%) in the fields of ecology and environmental science. His works have been cited over 35,000 times, and his Hirsch’s h index of 92 [16] (as per January 2015) is among the highest of any environmental scientist in the world. He has published 32 papers to date in Science[17] 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
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’,[18] the ‘hyperdynamism hypothesis[19]’, the ‘landscape-divergence hypothesis’,[20] the large spatial scale of some edge effects,[21] the key role of matrix tolerance in determining species’[22] responses to fragmentation, and the importance of synergisms between fragmentation and other environmental insults.[23]

His scientific interests include assessing the impacts of deforestation,[24] logging,[25] hunting,[26] wildfires,[27] road expansion,[28] and climatic change[29] on tropical ecosystems and biodiversity.

Laurance has also studied the drivers of global amphibian declines;[30] quantifying the threats to tropical protected areas;[31] evaluating potential effects of global atmospheric changes on the species composition, dynamics;[32] and carbon storage of intact tropical forests;[33] and understanding how droughts affect tropical tree communities.[34]

Laurance is also involved with the Environmental Leadership and Training Initiative,[35] a $10 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.[36][37]

Awards and honours

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 actively engaged in scientific and conservation advocacy and currently reaches about 100,000 informed readers worldwide 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:


  1. 1 2 "Fellows elected in 2015=https://www.science.org.au/fellows-elected-2015". External link in |title= (help);
  2. "2010 Australian Laureate Fellows – Professor William Laurance" (PDF).
  3. "Royal' job for JCU professor".
  4. 1 2 Laurance, William (2000). Stinging Trees and Wait-a-Whiles: Confessions of a Rainforest Biologist. Chicago: University of Chicago. ISBN 978-0-226-46896-9.
  5. Laurance, William (2000). Stinging Trees and Wait-a-Whiles: Confessions of a Rainforest Biologist. Chicago Press.
  6. 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.
  7. Laurance, W. F., and C. A. Peres (editors) (2006). Emerging Threats to Tropical Forests. University of Chicago Press, Chicago,. p. 534.
  8. Laurance, W. F., and R. O. Bierregaard, Jr. (1997). Tropical Forest Remnants Ecology, Management, and Conservation of Fragmented Communities. Chicago Press. p. 616.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Laurance, W. F. (2008). "Tipping the balance". The Ecologist: 37–41.
  13. Laurance, W. F. (2008). "Better REDD than Dead (Response from Laurance)". BioScience. 58 (8): 677. doi:10.1641/B580819.
  14. 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.
  15. "Citation indices for William Laurance".
  16. "Papers in Science Daily.".
  17. Laurance, W. F. (1997). "Biomass Collapse in Amazonian Forest Fragments". Science. 278 (5340): 1117–1118. doi:10.1126/science.278.5340.1117.
  18. 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.
  19. 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. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001017. PMC 1995757Freely accessible. PMID 17925865.
  20. 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". Nature. 428 (6979): 171–175. doi:10.1038/nature02383. PMID 15014498.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. 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.; Forget, P. M. (2012). "Averting biodiversity collapse in tropical forest protected areas". Nature. 489 (7415): 290–294. doi:10.1038/nature11318. PMID 22832582.
  30. Laurance, W. F. (2005). Forest-climate interactions in fragmented tropical landscapes. University Press, Oxford, U.K. pp. 31–38.
  31. 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. doi:10.1126/science.282.5388.439. PMID 9774263.
  32. 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). doi:10.1017/S0266467401001596.
  33. "ELTI meeting, 2008".
  34. Laurance, W. (2007). "Comment: Cursing condoms". New Scientist. 195 (2619): 23. doi:10.1016/S0262-4079(07)62194-0.
  35. Laurance, W. F. (2005). "Razing Amazonia". New Scientist: 34–39.
  36. "Bill Laurance wins 'Outstanding Contributions to Conservation' prize, Conservation Bytes".
  37. "Six new Heineken Prizes 2012 Laureates".
  38. "Past SCB Award Recipients".
  39. 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.
  40. Laurance, W.F. (2011). "Painting the rainforests REDD". Australian Geographic Magazine: 102–103.
  41. 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.
  42. "Award from Boise State University, 2010.".
  43. "Winners of the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Ecology and Conservation Biology Category".
  44. 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. doi:10.1073/pnas.0609048103.
  45. "ATBC Presidents Since 1963".
  46. "Opening a Pandora's box".
  47. Rhett Butler (November 9, 2006). "Mining in Venezuelan Amazon threatens biodiversity, indigenous groups".
  48. Laurance, W. F. (2004). "Deforestation in Amazonia". Science. 304 (5674): 1109b. doi:10.1126/science.304.5674.1109b.
  49. Laurance, W. F. (2008). "Environmental promise and peril in the Amazon". In W. Carson and S. Schnitzer, eds. Tropical Forest Community Ecology. Blackwell Scientific, New York. pp. 458–473.
  50. "Undisputed jewels of South America".
  51. "Cache of rare and undiscovered species in Panama".
  52. "Experts: Borneo in need of urgent protection".
  53. Scharlemann, J. P. W.; Laurance, W. F. (2008). "How Green Are Biofuels?". Science. 319 (5859): 43–44. doi:10.1126/science.1153103. PMID 18174426.
  54. 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.
  55. 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. doi:10.1126/science.1180289. PMID 19965752.
  56. Laurance, W. F. (2011). "China's dubious new honour". Australian Geographic Online.
  57. Laurance, W. F. (1988). "Conservacion de habitats criticos para mamiferos en el Eje Neovolcanico TransMexicano". Journal of Mammalogy. 69: 884.
  58. Laurance, W. F. (2012). "Hungry dragon". Australian Geographic Magazine: 118–119.
  59. Laurance, W. F. (2012). "Beware of the dragon: China's appetite for wood takes a heavy toll". Timber & Forestry E-News (204): 12–13.
  60. "China's appetite for wood takes a heavy toll on forests". Yale Environment 360 Magazine. 2011.
  61. Laurance, W. F. (2007). "The dragon and the rainforest". Tropinet. 18: 1–2.
  62. Laurance, W. F. (2006). "The need for China to reduce illegal timber imports". Newsletter of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
  63. Laurance, W. F. (2012). "Organised crime, illegal timber and Australia's role in deforestation.". The Conversation.
  64. Laurance, W. F. (2012). "Illegal logging takes 30 football fields a minutes: Why isn't Australia acting?". The Conversation.
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