William Laurance is a Distinguished Research Professor at James Cook University in Cairns, Australia, and holds an Australian Laureate Fellowship, one of Australia’s highest scientific awards. He also holds the Prince Bernhard Chair in International Nature Conservation at Utrecht University, Netherlands. 

Laurance received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1989.  His research focuses on the impacts of intensive land-uses, such as habitat fragmentation, logging, hunting and wildfires, on tropical forests and their biodiversity.  He is also interested in protected areas, climatic change, the impacts of roads and other infrastructure on biodiversity, and conservation policy.  His research over the past 35 years spans the tropical world, including the Amazon, Africa and Asia-Pacific regions.  To date he has published eight books and over 400 scientific and popular articles. 

A leading voice for conservation, Laurance believes that scientists must actively engage policy makers and the general public, as well as other scientists.  He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and former president of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation. 

Laurance has received many scientific honors including the BBVA Frontiers in Ecology and Conservation Biology Award, a Distinguished Service Award from the Society for Conservation Biology, and the Heineken Environment Prize.  He is also founder and director of ALERT—the Alliance of Leading Environmental Researchers & Thinkers, a group that advocates for environmental sustainability.

Research Disciplines
Socio-Economic Objectives

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU. Hover over Altmetrics badges to see social impact.

Journal Articles
Book Chapters

ResearchOnline@JCU stores a total of 173 research outputs authored by Prof Bill Laurance from 2008 onwards.

Current Funding

Current and recent Research Funding is shown by funding source and project.

Australian Research Council - Discovery - Projects

Response and vulnerability of tropical rainforest plants to experimental drought

Indicative Funding
$365,000 over 3 years
How will tropical forests respond if droughts should increase in the future? In a globally unique experiment, we will induce artificial rough in an Australian tropical rainforest and then use a canopy crane to assess plant responses at all vertical forest layers. We will contrast demographic and physiological responses of an array of plant species and functional groups, compared to nearby experimental-control plots where tree growth, composition, soil water and atmospheric exchange have been monitored since 1999. Drought responses for key species and functional groups will be compared with their distributions across regional rainfall gradients to yield novel insights into potential rainforest responses to future climate change.
Susan Laurance, Joe Holtum, Bill Laurance and Paul Nelson, with the help of Jonathan Lloyd and Maurizio Mencuccini (College of Marine & Environmental Sciences, College of Science, Technology & Engineering, University of Leeds and University of Edinburgh)
rainforest ecology; climate change adaptations; Ecophysiology

Australian Research Council - Discovery - Australian Laureate Fellowships

Advancing Australian Leadership in Tropical Conservation Science

Indicative Funding
$2,268,134 over 6 years
Tropical forests are being felled, burned, logged, and overhunted at alarming rates, and increasingly suffer from harmful climatic change - jeopardizing much of the world's biodiversity and emitting dangerous greenhouse gases. This Australian Laureate Fellowship will advance a dynamic environmental research program for tropical forests in Australia, the neighbouring Asia-Pacific region, and beyond - focusing on mounting threats including forest fragmentation, road expansion, and destabilizing synergisms between climate change and fire. This cutting-edge program will forge practical solutions to urgent concerns while promoting an array of new research challenges, opportunities, and sources of international funding for Australian scientists.
Bill Laurance (College of Marine & Environmental Sciences)
tropical forests; Conservation Biology; Landscape ecology; Climatic Change; conservation policy

Australia & Pacific Science Foundation - Research Project Grant

Regeneration and recovery dynamics of lowland tropical forests in the Solomon Archipelago

Indicative Funding
$36,000 over 3 years
This study aims to investigate how secondary forests in the Solomon Archipelago recover floristically and functionally over various temporal stages after logging. With the looming prospect of losing all loggable forests within a decade, such a study is vital in order to gain the much needed perspective on how the natural forest is recovering, what factors are affecting the recovery process and how secondary regrowth can be effectively managed through targeted sustainable measures. These anticipated outcomes are very important for Solomon Islands and other tropical oceanic islands where much of the forest have been highly degraded through anthropogenic activities.
Bill Laurance and Eric Katovai (College of Marine & Environmental Sciences)
logging; forest regeneration; plant functional types; forest degradation; Biodiversity; Ecosystem services

Advisory Accreditation: I can be on your Advisory Panel as a Primary or Secondary Advisor.

These Higher Degree Research projects are either current or by students who have completed their studies within the past 5 years at JCU. Linked titles show theses available within ResearchOnline@JCU.

  • Diversity and Habitat use of Mid-Large Sized Mammals Across Oil Palm Landscapes in the Plains of Colombia. (PhD, Primary Advisor)
  • The Ecological Response of Lianas to Habitat Fragmentation of the Tropical Rainforest. (PhD, Primary Advisor)
  • Quantifying the Value of Riparian Forest Corridors for Medium and Large Mammals in Indonesia's Acacia and Oil Palm Plantations. (PhD, Primary Advisor)
  • Conservation Challenges of Wet-tropical Nature Reserves in NE India (PhD, Primary Advisor)
  • Regeneration and Recovery Dynamics of Logged Forests in the Solomon Archipelago (PhD, Primary Advisor)
  • Foreign Investments in African Extractive Industries: a Focus on China-Africa with Case Studies in Cameroon (PhD, Associate Advisor)

The map shows research collaborations by institution from the past 7 years.
Note: Map points are indicative of the countries or states that institutions are associated with.

  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

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