Paul K. Dayton, Ph.D.


Paul K. Dayton, Ph.D.
Paul Dayton
Oceanography Professor
University of California, San Diego
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
City, State, ZIP
La Jolla, California 92093-0227
[email protected]
Award year


Project Details

With his Pew Fellowship, Paul Dayton launched a long-term nearshore coastal management program for estuarine fauna in Southern California and Baja California. He produced a detailed plan for optimal research and management of these isolated and threatened habitats in order to ensure that they will endure well into the future. The program is based on a thorough review of published and unpublished literature describing historical patterns and evaluates the larval dispersal and recruitment of selected species in coastal habitats.

Dayton compared the macrobenthos of two relatively pristine estuaries in Baja California with disturbed Southern California estuarine areas that have been affected by pollution, overfishing and habitat encroachment. His research documents the processes and functions of natural wetland systems to inform better conservation planning and management. Dayton's long-term objective is to expand the research and management program to all nearshore coastal systems, including marshes, seagrass, bays, rocky coastlines and kelp communities in the Californias.


Paul Dayton focuses on coastal habitats, which are some of the most overutilized, stressed and disturbed areas in the world. His career has been driven by the belief that one must understand nature to protect it and he has attempted to use analytical techniques of simplification, testing, and synthesis as an approach to understanding community organization. Dayton's research specialty is benthic communities and coastal/estuarine environments. He has also been involved in projects focusing on kelp forests, global fisheries and Antarctic ecosystems.

He has devoted considerable time to the United States Marine Mammal Commission and to the University of California Natural System which maintains approximately 30 reserves. Dayton, a widely sought speaker, strives to provide sound science to support improved marine conservation policy.

In addition, Dayton is a member of the Marine Aquaculture Task Force, established in 2005 by The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The Task Force will recommend national aquaculture standards for the future development of our oceans. To address aquaculture's risks and benefits, the Task Force will be guided by the principle that marine aquaculture must be conducted in a way that does not harm fish and wildlife and the ecosystems on which they depend. The Task Force will host and participate in a range of scientific and policy-making meetings, engage leaders from government, industry, science and the environmental community and publish a report recommending national standards for sustainable aquaculture.


Marine Biology Research Division



Ph.D., University of Washington
1970: Zoology, Washington, USA

Bachelor of Science, University of Arizona
1963: Zoology, Arizona, USA


Great Barrier Reef Research Foundation
2002-Present: Member, International Scientific Advisory Committee

PADI Foundation, Member
1998-Present: Board of Directors

U.S. Marine Mammal Commission
1990-Present: Member

Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research
1989-Present: Member, Group of Specialists on Southern Ocean Ecology

National Research Council, Committee on Fisheries
1992-1994: Member

National Academy of Science
1989-1992: Polar Research Board

OTA Antarctic Advisory Panel
1988-1989: Member

Southern California Coastal Water Research Project
1978-1984: Advisory Board Member


Ramon Margalef Prize in Ecology and Environmental Sciences
2006: Autonomous Government of Catalonia

Scientific Diving Lifetime Achievement Award
2002: American Academy of Underwater Sciences

Marine Fellow
1995: Pew Fellows Program in Marine Conservation

George Mercer Award
1974: Ecological Society of America

Excellence in Oceanographic Writing
1971: Louis Burt Award


  • Charles Birkeland and Paul K. Dayton. 2005. The importance in fishery management of leaving the big ones. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 20(7): 356-358
  • Pikitch, E.K., C. Santora, E. A. Babcock, A. Bakun, R. Bonfil, D. O. Conover, P. Dayton, P. Doukakis, D. Fluharty, B. Heneman, E. D. Houde, J. Link, P. A. Livingston, M. Mangel, M. K. McAllister, J. Pope, K. J. Sainsbury. 2004. Ecosystem-Based Fishery Management. Science 305:346-347
  • Kinlan B.P., M.H. Graham, E. Sala and P.K. Dayton. 2003. Arrested development of giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera, Phaeophyceae) embryonic sporophytes: a mechanism for delayed recruitment in perennial kelps? Journal of Phycology 39(1): 47-57
  • Dayton, P.K., S. Thrush, and F. Coleman. 2002. The Ecological Effects of Fishing in Marine Ecosystems of the United States. Pew Oceans Commission (52 pp)
  • Tegner, M.J. and P.K. Dayton. 2000. Ecosystem effects of fishing in kelp forest communities. ICES Journal of Marine Science 57(3): 579-589
  • Dayton, P. K., M.J. Tegner, P.B. Edwards, and K.L. Riser. 1999. Temporal and spatial scales of kelp demography: the role of oceanographic climate. Ecological Monographs 69:219-250
  • Talley, T.S., and P.K. Dayton. 1999. Tidal flat macrofaunal communities and their associated environments in estuaries of southern California and northern Baja California, Mexico. Estuaries
  • Dayton, P. K. 1998. Reversal of the burden of proof in fisheries management. Science 279(5352): 821
  • Schneider, D.C., R. Walters and P. Dayton. 1997. Scale-up of ecological experiments: Density variation in the mobile bivalve Macomona liliana.. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 216(1): 129
  • Dayton, P.K., S.F. Thrush and R.J. Hofman. 1995. Environmental effects of marine fishing. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecology 5(3): 205
  • Dayton, P.K.. 1994. Community landscape: Scale and stability in hard bottom marine communities. In: Aquatic Ecology: Scales, Patterns and Processes (P.S. Giller, A.G. Hildrew and D.G. Raffaelli eds.). Blackwell Press
  • Dayton, P.K.(and co-authors). 1992. Temporal and spatial patterns of disturbance and recovery in a kelp forest community. Ecological Monographs 62:421-445
  • Dayton, P.K., R.J. Seymour, P.E. Parnell and M.J. Tegner. 1989. Unusual marine erosion in San Diego County from a single storm. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 29:151-160

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