James A. Estes

University of California, Santa Cruz
Biological Sciences
Evolution and Ecology

James A. Estes is Distinguished Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at University of California, Santa Cruz. Estes is a wildlife ecologist, recognized for his work on the ecosystem-level influences of large predators. He is known especially for studies of sea otters and kelp forest ecosystems, from which he demonstrated the enhancing influence of predators on the distribution and abundance of plants through what has since come to be widely known as a “trophic cascade.” Estes was born in Sacramento, California, in 1945. He graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in zoology in 1967, subsequently obtaining a Masters in Biology from Washington State University in 1969 and a PhD in biology and statistics from the University of Arizona in 1974. He was employed as a research scientist by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Geological Survey from 1974 to 2007, after which he joined the faculty at the University of California at Santa Cruz. In recognition of his work’s scientific and societal impacts, Estes received the U.S. Geological Survey’s Schumaker Award for excellence in science communication, the Western Society of Naturalists’ Lifetime Achievement Award, and the American Society of Mammalogists’ C. Hart Merriam Award.

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