William F. Laurance

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William F. Laurance
Born (1957-10-12) 12 October 1957 (age 62)
ResidenceCairns, Australia
CitizenshipJoint citizenship (US, Australia)
Alma materUniversity of California, Berkeley
Scientific career
InstitutionsJames Cook University

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[edit]

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[edit]

Laurance has authored eight books and has over 600 scientific and popular articles[7] to his credit. 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 55,000 times, and his Hirsch's h index of 117 [17] (as per August 2019) 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
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[edit]

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.

  • Cassowary Prize for Tropical Research and Conservation, 2018
  • Elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Sciences, 2015.[2]
  • Outstanding Contributions to Nature Conservation, Zoological Society of London, 2015.[39]
  • The Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for Environmental Sciences, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and A. H. Heineken Foundation, 2012.[40]
  • Distinguished Service Award, Society for Conservation Biology, 2011.[41]
  • Six-time recipient of the Faculty of 1000 Selection for Outstanding Articles.[42]
  • Four-time winner of Australia's Best Science Writing Prize.[43]
  • Top 50-most cited papers in Biological Conservation.[44]
  • Distinguished Alumni Award, Boise State University, USA, 2010.[45]
  • BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Ecology and Conservation Biology Award (co-winner with Thomas Lovejoy), 2008 [46]
  • Highly Cited Researcher Award, ISI Thompson Scientific, 2007, 2016, 2017, 2018
  • Outstanding Paper of the Year, International Association of Landscape Ecologists, 2006 [47]

Fellowships and councils[edit]

  • President-elect, President, and Past-president, Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation, 2005–2007[48]
  • Honorary Fellow of the World Innovation Foundation, 2005
  • John A. Erskine Fellow, University of Canterbury, New Zealand, 2005
  • Executive Council, Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation, 2004–2005
  • Elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2003
  • Executive Council, Australian Mammal Society, 1994–1996

Conservation and public outreach[edit]

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:

  • Oppose new roads and oil projects inside Ecuadorian protected areas[49]
  • Reduce illegal gold mining in the Guiana Shield of northern South America[50]
  • Slow the pace of Amazon deforestation[51]
  • Limit rapid expansion of industrial logging in Guyana[52]
  • Applaud the designation of new protected areas in Gabon[53]
  • Reduce logging and mining encroachment into the Rio Caura Basin of Venezuela[54]
  • Halt illegal colonization of protected areas in central Amazonia[16]
  • Support a new national park in the imperiled Cerro Chucantí region of Panama[55]
  • Promote designation of the "Heart of Borneo" network of protected areas[56]
  • Oppose tropical deforestation for expansion of biofuel feedstocks[57]
  • Improve the environmental role of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil[58]
  • Promote international carbon-trading for forest conservation[59]
  • Decry the rapid conversion of subtropical forests in China for rubber plantations[60]
  • Oppose clearing of threatened tropical dry forests in Mexico[61]
  • Urge China to reduce its massive trade in illegal tropical timber[62][63][64][65][66]
  • Support new legislation to halt imports of illegal timber into Australia[67][68]


  1. ^ https://research.jcu.edu.au/portfolio/bill.laurance
  2. ^ a b "Fellows elected in 2015". Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  3. ^ "2010 Australian Laureate Fellows – Professor William Laurance" (PDF).
  4. ^ "Prince Bernhard Chair holders".
  5. ^ a b Laurance, William (2000). Stinging Trees and Wait-a-Whiles: Confessions of a Rainforest Biologist. Chicago: University of Chicago. ISBN 978-0-226-46896-9.
  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. ^ a b 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. ^ a b c "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. 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. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001017. PMC 1995757. PMID 17925865. open access
  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. doi:10.1038/nature02383. 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" (PDF). 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.; Forget, P. M. (2012). "Averting biodiversity collapse in tropical forest protected areas". Nature. 489 (7415): 290–294. doi:10.1038/nature11318. PMID 22832582.
  31. ^ Laurance, W. F. (2005). Forest-climate interactions in fragmented tropical landscapes. University Press, Oxford, U.K. pp. 31–38.
  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. 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). 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. ^ "Award from Boise State University, 2010".
  44. ^ "Winners of the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Ecology and Conservation Biology Category".
  45. ^ 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. PMC 1682011. PMID 17148598.
  46. ^ "ATBC Presidents Since 1963".
  47. ^ "Opening a Pandora's box".
  48. ^ Rhett Butler (9 November 2006). "Mining in Venezuelan Amazon threatens biodiversity, indigenous groups".
  49. ^ Laurance, W. F. (2004). "Deforestation in Amazonia". Science. 304 (5674): 1109b. doi:10.1126/science.304.5674.1109b.
  50. ^ Laurance, W. F. (2008). "Environmental promise and peril in the Amazon". In W. Carson and S. Schnitzer, eds. (eds.). Tropical Forest Community Ecology. Blackwell Scientific, New York. pp. 458–473.CS1 maint: uses editors parameter (link)
  51. ^ "Undisputed jewels of South America".
  52. ^ "Cache of rare and undiscovered species in Panama".
  53. ^ "Experts: Borneo in need of urgent protection".
  54. ^ Scharlemann, J. P. W.; Laurance, W. F. (2008). "How Green Are Biofuels?". Science. 319 (5859): 43–44. doi:10.1126/science.1153103. PMID 18174426.
  55. ^ 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.
  56. ^ 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.
  57. ^ Laurance, W. F. (2011). "China's dubious new honour". Australian Geographic Online.
  58. ^ Laurance, W. F. (1988). "Conservacion de habitats criticos para mamiferos en el Eje Neovolcanico TransMexicano". Journal of Mammalogy. 69: 884.
  59. ^ Laurance, W. F. (2012). "Hungry dragon". Australian Geographic Magazine: 118–119.
  60. ^ Laurance, W. F. (2012). "Beware of the dragon: China's appetite for wood takes a heavy toll". Timber & Forestry E-News (204): 12–13.
  61. ^ "China's appetite for wood takes a heavy toll on forests". Yale Environment 360 Magazine. 2011.
  62. ^ Laurance, W. F. (2007). "The dragon and the rainforest". Tropinet. 18: 1–2.
  63. ^ Laurance, W. F. (2006). "The need for China to reduce illegal timber imports". Newsletter of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
  64. ^ Laurance, W. F. (2012). "Organised crime, illegal timber and Australia's role in deforestation". The Conversation.
  65. ^ Laurance, W. F. (2012). "Illegal logging takes 30 football fields a minutes: Why isn't Australia acting?". The Conversation.

External links[edit]