Paul Dayton, professor of oceanography in the Integrative Oceanography Division at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, has been selected as the winner of the 2004 E. O. Wilson Naturalist Award by the American Society of Naturalists.
Dayton, who has spent nearly 35 years at Scripps as a marine ecologist, is being honored for his contributions toward understanding the forces structuring and threatening marine communities, most notably kelp forests, rocky intertidal communities and benthic communities in the Antarctic. He also is a leader in the drive to conserve marine ecosystems and fisheries.
Dayton will receive a special work of art and an honorarium of $2,000, to be presented to him at an awards banquet during the annual meeting of the American Society of Naturalists in Fort Collins, Colo., on June 30.
"Paul Dayton is a truly unfettered, free-ranging spirit," said Elizabeth Venrick, a research oceanographer and codirector of the Integrative Oceanography Division at Scripps, who has worked with Dayton for several decades. "His interests range from the natural history of just about anything-saguaros, kangaroos, mustard fields-to archeology, anthropology and the history of civilization, to marine mammals, resource conservation and management and, of course, benthic ecology. It is these eclectic interests that bring such depth and perspective to his studies and make him such fun to be around."
Dayton has served as a director for the Ocean Conservancy and the National Research Council Panel on Marine Protected Areas. He was awarded a Scientific Diving Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Academy of Underwater Sciences in 2002. He is the only person ever to be awarded both the George Mercer (1974) and William Cooper (2000) awards from the Ecological Society of America. In 1990, he was appointed a member of the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission by President George H. W. Bush.
The American Society of Naturalists, established in 1883, is one of the world's leading professional organizations of ecologists and evolutionists. Its annual award is named for renowned Harvard University Professor E. O. Wilson, and is presented to active researchers for significant contributions to the knowledge of a particular ecosystem or group of organisms, particularly for contributions that illuminate principles of evolutionary biology and enhance appreciation of natural history.