About

I study how human activities impact tropical rainforest plant and wildlife communities.  I am especially interested in how vulnerable wildlife and plant species are affected by major land-use and climate change.  My work spans much of the tropical world, including the Amazon and tropical Australia.

I have maintained a long-term involvement at the Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project in Brazil, which is the largest, longest-running experimental study into how human land-use impacts rainforest communities. This dataset has also contributed significantly to our current understanding of forest dynamics, floristic diversity and carbon stock and pulses in tropical rainforests.  

In Australia, I have developed an extensive research program that continues my work in global change and tropical forests at the Daintree Rainforest Observatory (DRO), where we have initiated an ambitious experiment to induce an artificial drought in order to study its effects on rainforest biodiversity.  My other research programs include understanding the biotic and abiotic drivers of secondary forest composition and carbon sequestration, and how fragmentation and human land-use influences disease vectors. I am the lead investigator on >$2 million in research grants and have authored/coauthored more than 130 peer-reviewed research articles. 

You can see the Daintree Drought Experiment on JCU’s Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5386WYkyWwhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtFDZ_LNn00. See researchers from my lab Dr David Tng and Dr Deborah Apgaua:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QCa9WfSQXGk

Teaching
  • BZ2450: Biodiversity of Tropical Australia (Level 2; TSV)
  • BZ2490: Toolkit for the Field Biologist (Level 2; CNS & TSV)
  • BZ3225: Technological Applications in Ecology (Level 3; CNS)
  • BZ3230: Ecological Research Methods (Level 3; CNS & TSV)
  • BZ3620: Tropical Flora of Australia (Level 3; CNS)
  • BZ5225: Technological Applications in Ecology (Level 5; CNS)
  • BZ5230: Ecological Research Methods (Level 5; CNS)
  • BZ5620: Tropical Flora of Australia (Level 5; CNS)
  • BZ5755: Biodiversity and Climate Change: Impact, Mitigation and Adaptation (Level 5; TSV)
  • BZ5990: Toolkit for the Field Biologist (Level 5; CNS & TSV)
  • SC3008: Professional Placement (Level 3; CNS & TSV)
Interests
Research
  • Ecology Conservation Biology Restoration Ecology Climate Change Rainforest Ecology
  • A short youtube video can be seen here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5386WYkyWw
  • Research Seminar on the Daintree Drought Experiment Can be seen here https://mediasite.jcu.edu.au/Mediasite/Play/67d312078b274f768eaff24df7e02e861d
  • TEDX talk can be seen here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtFDZ_LNn00
Experience
  • 2010 to 2015 - Tropical Leader, James Cook University (Cairns)
  • 2001 to 2009 - Post-doctoral researcher, STRI (Brazil & Panama)
  • 1996 to 2001 - Herbarium manager, BDFFP (Brazil)
  • 1990 to 1995 - Conservation officer, QNPWS (Cairns)
Research Disciplines
Honours
Awards
  • 2018 to 2023 - European Research Council Advanced Grant 2018, ($2.4 million Euros). Role: collaborator, Lead Investigator: Dr Lourens Poorter
  • 2020 to 2022 - Lead Investigator, ARC Discovery Grant ($395,000) Drought effects and insect attack on rainforests
  • 2014 to 2017 - ARC Future Fellow ($680,000), Global Change: Rainforest responses to experimental drought
  • 2012 to 2015 - Lead Investigator, ARC Discovery Grant ($365,000), Response and vulnerability of tropical rainforest plants to experimental drought
  • 2011 to 2014 - Lead Investigator, NERP/RRRC Grant ($102,000), Land use and disease dynamics across the Torres Straits
  • 2011 to 2014 - Lead investigator, ARC Linkage Grant ($460,000), Accelerating species and biomass gains in tropical secondary forests
Fellowships
  • 2015 to 2050 - Fellow of the Royal Society of Quensland
  • 2007 to 2009 - NSF Post-doctoral Fellow, STRI Panama
  • 2004 to 2006 - Mellon Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, STRI Panama
  • 2002 to 2004 - NASA LBA Post-doctoral Fellow, INPA Brazil & STRI Panama
Memberships
  • 2020 to 2021 - ERC Expert Panel
  • 2011 to 2019 - Deputy Chair, Scientific Advisory Committee of the Wet Tropics Management Authority, Cairns
  • 2009 to 2016 - Research Associate, Smithsonian Tropical Reseach Institute
  • 1996 to 2016 - Research Associate, Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project, Brazil
  • 2013 to 2015 - President of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC)
  • 2009 to 2011 - Councilor of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation
Publications

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
  • Palma A, Goosem M, Fensham R, Goosem S, Preece N, Stevenson P and Laurance S (in press) Dispersal and recruitment limitations in secondary forests. Journal of Vegetation Science, , Article: e12975, DOI:10.1111/jvs.12975.
  • Addicott E, Laurance S, Bannink P and Thompson S (in press) The intertidal plant communities in north-eastern Australia, their carbon stores and vulnerability to extreme climate events. Aquatic Conservation: marine and freshwater ecosystems, , DOI:10.1002/aqc.3376.
  • Engert J, Vogado N, Freebody K, Byrne B, Murphy J, Sheather G, Snodgrass P, Nugent L, lloyd D and Laurance S (2020) Functional trait representation differs between restoration plantings and mature tropical rainforest. Forest Ecology and Management, 473, Article: 118304, DOI:10.1016/j.foreco.2020.118304.
  • Esquivel-Muelbert A, Phillips O, Brienen R, Fauset S, Sullivan M, Baker T, Chao K, Feldpausch T, Gloor E, Higuchi N, Houwing-Duistermaat J, Lloyd J, Liu H, Malhi Y, Marimon B, Marimon Junior B, Monteagudo-Mendoza A, Poorter L, Silveira M, Vilanova Torre E, Alvarez Davila E, del Aguila Pasquel J, Almeida E, Alvarez Loayza P, Andrade A, Aragão L, Araujo-Murakami A, Arets E, Arroyo L, Aymard C. G, Baisie M, Baraloto C, Camargo P, Barroso J, Blanc L, Bonal D, Bongers F, Boot R, Brown F, Burban B, Camargo J, Castro W, Moscoso V, Chave J, Comiskey J, Valverde F, Lola da Costa A, Cardozo N, Di Fiore A, Dourdain A, Erwin T, Llampazo G, Guimaraes Veira I, Herrera R, Honorio Coronado E, Huamantupa-Chuquimaco I, Jimenez-Rojas E, Killeen T, Laurance S, Laurance W, Levesley A, Lewis S, Ladvocat K, Lopez-Gonzalez G, Lovejoy T, Meir P, Mendoza C, Morandi P, Neill D, Lima A, Núñez Vargas P, De Oliveira E, Pallqui Camacho N, Pardo G, Peacock J, Pena-Claros M, Peñuela-Mora M, Pickavance G, Pipoly J, Pittman N, Prieto A, Pugh T, Quesada C, Ramírez-Angulo H, Reis S, Rejou-Machain M, Restrepo Correa Z, Rodriguez Bayona L, Rudas A, Salomão R, Serrano J, Silva Espejo J, Silva N, Singh J, Stahl C, Stropp J, Swamy V, Talbot J, ter Steege H, Terborgh J, Thomas R, Toledo M, Torres-lezama A, Gamarra L, van der Heijden G, van der Meer P, van der Hout P, Martinez R, Vieira S, Cayo J, Vos V, Zagt R, Zuidema P and Galbraith D (2020) Tree mode of death and mortality risk factors across Amazon forests. Nature Communications, 11, Article: 5515, DOI:10.1038/s41467-020-18996-3.
  • Gely C, Laurance S and Stork N (2020) How do herbivorous insects respond to drought stress in trees? Biological Reviews, 95, pp. 434-448, DOI:10.1111/brv.12571.
  • Guerra A, Reis L, Gomes Borges F, Alves Ojeda P, Manrique Pineda D, Miranda C, Furtado de Lima Maidana D, Rocha dos Santos T, Shibuya P, Marques M, Laurance S and Garcia L (2020) Ecological restoration in Brazilian biomes: Identifying advances and gaps. Forest Ecology and Management, 458, Article: 117802, DOI:10.1016/j.foreco.2019.117802.
  • Muscarella R, Emilio T, Phillips O, Lewis S, Slik F, Baker W, Couvreur T, Eiserhardt W, Svenning J, Affum‐Baffoe K, Aiba S, Almeida E, Almeida S, Oliveira E, Álvarez‐Dávila E, Alves L, Alvez‐Valles C, Carvalho F, Guarin F, Andrade A, Aragão L, Murakami A, Arroyo L, Ashton P, Corredor G, Baker T, Camargo P, Barlow J, Bastin J, Bengone N, Berenguer E, Berry N, Blanc L, Böhning‐Gaese K, Bonal D, Bongers F, Bradford M, Brambach F, Brearley F, Brewer S, Camargo J, Campbell D, Castilho C, Castro W, Catchpole D, Cerón Martínez C, Chen S, Chhang P, Cho P, Chutipong W, Clark C, Collins M, Comiskey J, Medina M, Costa F, Culmsee H, David‐Higuita H, Davidar P, Aguila‐Pasquel J, Derroire G, Di Fiore A, Van Do T, Doucet J, Dourdain A, Drake D, Ensslin A, Erwin T, Ewango C, Ewers R, Fauset S, Feldpausch T, Ferreira J, Ferreira L, Fischer M, Franklin J, Fredriksson G, Gillespie T, Gilpin M, Gonmadje C, Gunatilleke A, Hakeem K, Hall J, Hamer K, Harris D, Harrison R, Hector A, Hemp A, Herault B, Pizango C, Coronado E, Hubau W, Hussain M, Ibrahim F, Imai N, Joly C, Joseph S, K A, Kartawinata K, Kassi J, Killeen T, Kitayama K, Klitgård B, Kooyman R, Labrière N, Larney E, Laumonier Y, Laurance S, Laurance W, Lawes M, Levesley A, Lisingo J, Lovejoy T, Lovett J, Lu X, Lykke A, Magnusson W, Mahayani N, Malhi Y, Mansor A, Peña J, Marimon‐Junior B, Marshall A, Melgaco K, Bautista C, Mihindou V, Millet J, Milliken W, Mohandass D, Mendoza A, Mugerwa B, Nagamasu H, Nagy L, Seuaturien N, Nascimento M, Neill D, Neto L, Nilus R, Vargas M, Nurtjahya E, Araújo R, Onrizal O, Palacios W, Palacios‐Ramos S, Parren M, Paudel E, Morandi P, Pennington R, Pickavance G, Pipoly J, Pitman N, Poedjirahajoe E, Poorter L, Poulsen J, Rama Chandra Prasad P, Prieto A, Puyravaud J, Qie L, Quesada C, Ramírez‐Angulo H, Razafimahaimodison J, Reitsma J, Requena‐Rojas E, Correa Z, Rodriguez C, Roopsind A, Rovero F, Rozak A, Lleras A, Rutishauser E, Rutten G, Punchi‐Manage R, Salomão R, Van Sam H, Sarker S, Satdichanh M, Schietti J, Schmitt C, Marimon B, Senbeta F, Nath Sharma L, Sheil D, Sierra R, Silva‐Espejo J, Silveira M, Sonké B, Steininger M, Steinmetz R, Stévart T, Sukumar R, Sultana A, Sunderland T, Suresh H, Tang J, Tanner E, Steege H, Terborgh J, Theilade I, Timberlake J, Torres‐Lezama A, Umunay P, Uriarte M, Gamarra L, Bult M, Hout P, Martinez R, Vieira I, Vieira S, Vilanova E, Cayo J, Wang O, Webb C, Webb E, White L, Whitfeld T, Wich S, Willcock S, Wiser S, Young K, Zakaria R, Zang R, Zartman C, Zo‐Bi I, Balslev H and McGeoch M (2020) The global abundance of tree palms. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 29 (9), pp. 1495-1514, DOI:10.1111/geb.13123.
  • Palma A, Goosem M, Stevenson P and Laurance S (2020) Enhancing plant diversity in secondary forests. Frontiers in Forests and Global Change, 3, Article: 571352, DOI:10.3389/ffgc.2020.571352.
  • Rozendaal D, Phillips O, Lewis S, Affum-baffoe K, Alvares-Davila E, Andrade A, Aragão L, Araujo-murakami A, Baker T, Banki O, Brienen R, Camargo J, Comiskey J, Djuikouo Kamdem M, Fauset S, Feldpausch T, Killeen T, Laurance W, Laurance S, Lovejoy T, Malhi Y, Marimon B, Marimon Junior B, Marshall A, Neill D, Núñez Vargas P, Pitman N, Poorter L, Reitsma J, Silveira M, Sonké B, Sunderland T, Taedoumg H, Ter Steege H, Terborgh J, Umetsu R, van DerHeuden G, Vilanova E, Vos V, White L, Willcock S, Zemagho L and Vanderwel M (2020) Competition influences tree growth, but not mortality, across environmental gradients in Amazonia and tropical Africa. Ecology, 101 (7), Article: e3052, DOI:10.1002/ecy.3052.
  • Addicott E and Laurance S (2019) Supervised versus un‐supervised classification: a quantitative comparison of plant communities in savanna vegetation. Applied Vegetation Science, 22, pp. 373-382, DOI:10.1111/avsc.12442.
  • Almeida D, Stark S, Schietti J, Camargo J, Amazonas N, Gorgens E, Rosa D, Smith M, Valbuena R, Slaeska S, Andrade A, Mesquita R, Laurance S, Laurance W, Lovejoy T, Broadbent E, Shimabukuro Y, Parker G, Lefsky M, Silva C and Brancalion P (2019) Persistent effects of fragmentation on tropical rainforest canopy structure after 20 yr of isolation. Ecological Applications, 29 (6), Article: e01952, pp. 1221-1235, DOI:10.1002/eap.1952.
  • Apgaua D, Tng D, Forbes S, Ishida Y, Oliveira Vogado N, Cernusak L and Laurance S (2019) Elevated temperature and CO2 cause differential growth and drought survival responses in Eucalypt species from contrasting habitats. Tree Physiology, 39 (11), pp. 1806-1820, DOI:10.1093/treephys/tpz095.
More

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 107+ research outputs authored by A/Prof Susan Laurance from 1999 onwards.

Current Funding

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

Australian Research Council - Discovery - Projects

The role of drought-stress and insect attack on rainforest plant health

Indicative Funding
$395,000 over 3 years
Summary
This project aims to examine the vulnerability of tropical plants to drought and insect attack in a large-scale field experiment. We will pioneer a new research approach that focuses on the causes and stages of decline in plant health prior to death, in order to identify the characteristics of plant species that make them more susceptible to drought and insect attack. Expected outcomes of this project include an improved capacity to predict the function and composition of future forests. This project will provide significant benefits to communities concerned with the direct and indirect effects of droughts in protected areas, forestry reserves and agriculture.
Investigators
Susan Laurance, Lori Lach and Nigel Stork (College of Science & Engineering and Griffith University)
Keywords
Drought-stressed plants; plant-insect interactions; Rainforest; inswect attack; bottom-up & top-down processes; Daintree
Supervision

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.

Current
  • The effects of rainforest fragmentation on parasite infections in terrestrial mammals (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
Completed
Collaboration

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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Email
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Location
  • E2.024, Sir Robert Norman Building (Cairns campus)
Advisory Accreditation
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