MacArthur Fellows Program

John W. Terborgh

Conservation Biologist | Class of 1992

Conservation Biologist
Durham, North Carolina
56 at time of award
Published July 1, 1992

John Terborgh is a biologist who has made major contributions to tropical ecology, biogeography, and biological conservation.

Terborgh pioneered the field use of experimental analysis techniques in his early work on the altitudinal distribution of neotropical birds and on the role of competition in bird community structure.  Turning to comparative studies of monkey behavior in different ecological settings, he generated a new paradigm for studies of primate communities.  He also investigates the mechanisms that drive wholesale extinctions in habitat fragments.  Since 1973, Terborgh has operated a field station in the Manu National Park of Peru.  His discoveries there have included the key role played by a relatively small number of plant species that provide critical resources to the animal community during seasonal periods of food scarcity.

Terborgh is the James B. Duke Professor of Environmental Science at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences.  He is the author of Diversity and the Tropical Rainforest (1992) and Requiem for Nature (1999), and the co-editor of Continental Conservation: Scientific Foundations of Regional Reserve Networks (1999) and Making Parks Work: Strategies for Preserving Tropical Nature (2002).

Terborgh received an A.B. (1958) from Harvard College and an A.M. (1960) and Ph.D. (1963) from Harvard University.

Last updated January 1, 2005

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