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Jonathan Wright

Associate Professor of Biology

Contact Information

R. C. Seaver Biology Building, Room 11
175 W Sixth Street
Claremont, CA 91711
Personal Website


Ph.D. Oxford University, UK
M.A. Oxford University, UK, Invertebrate Zoology
B.A. Oxford University, UK, Zoology

Professional Experience

Assistant and Associate Professor of Biology, Pomona College
Assistant and Associate Professor of Biology, Northern State University, Aberdeen, SD
Postdoctoral Fellow, McMaster University, Ontario, Canada
Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Toronto, Canada
Danish Government Scholar, The Zoology Museum, University of Copenhagen


Biology 41E: Ecological and Evolutionary Biology
Biology 131: Invertebrate Biology
Biology 140: Animal Physiology

Research Interests

My research focuses on several aspects of arthropod physiology, especially ion regulation, nitrogen metabolism and water balance in isopod crustaceans. Of particular interest is how selection has shaped these different physiological systems in the evolutionary transition from marine to terrestrial life.

Terrestrial isopods represent a particularly useful group of animals for understanding the evolutionary patterns of change in physiological systems. This group has a well-characterized phylogeny and over 4000 species, including basal representatives in the marine intertidal, soil-dwelling (cryptozoic) species, and several independent terrestrial radiations. Recent work by my students has shown that 2 species from independently terrestrial lineages both excrete waste nitrogen as volatile ammonia, and accumulate glutamine between periodic bursts of excretion. Current work is attempting to elucidate whether this role of glutamine as a periodic nitrogen store is derived from a similar role in tidally restricted cycles of ammonia excretion in the basal intertidal species. We are also attempting to understand the mechanism of branchial ammonia volatilization and its dependence on bicarbonate-based buffering in the pleopodites.

Additional ongoing projects include a study of the pleopodal lungs (also convergently derived in different lineages) and their role in metabolic regulation, the colligative water vapor absorption exploited by the section Crinocheta and its likely origin from pre-adaptive branchial salt excretion in littoral species, and the mechanisms of ion-regulation and ion sequestration during dehydration in terrestrial species.

Selected Publications:

Wright, J.C., and K. Ting*. 2006. Respiratory physiology of the Oniscidea: Aerobic capacity and the significance of pleopodal lungs. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. A Mol. Integr. Physiol. 145: 235-244. [abstract]

Wright, J.C., and P. Westh. 2006. Water vapour absorption in the penicillate millipede Polyxenus lagurus (Diplopoda: Penicillata: Polyxenida): microcalorimetric analysis of uptake kinetics. J. Exp. Biol. 209: 2486-2494. [abstract | full text | pdf]

Ouyang, D.M-W.*, and J.C. Wright. 2005. Calcium accumulation in eggs and mancas of Armadillidium vulgare (Isopoda: Oniscidea). J. Crustacean Biol. 25: 420-426. [abstract]

Wright, J.C., and M. Peña-Peralta*. 2005. Diel variation in ammonia excretion, glutamine levels, and hydration status in 2 species of terrestrial isopod. J. Comp. Physiol. B 175: 67-75. [abstract]

Wright, J.C., T.H. Carefoot, and M.A. Albers*. 2003. Osmoregulation and salt excretion in the Ligiidae and Tylidae. Crustaceana Monographs 2: 311-334.

*Undergraduate co-author