Robert Treat Paine, His Legacy Continues

The world of ecology is saddened today by news of the passing of Robert Paine, who died last night after an illness. Dr. Paine was president of ESA in 1979-1980; his role is captured in his reflections on his presidency, written in 2012 as part of the Past Presidents timeline project.

April 13, 1933 – June 13, 2016

Here are some key articles as reminders today about Bob Paine’s contributions to ecology:

Bob Paine was interviewed for HRC’s oral history project in 2012 by Doug Sprugel, the first interview of ecologists in a series that now includes more than 20. In it, Paine discusses his early influences and his work under Fred Smith (ESA President, 1973-74), a “hands-off teacher” whose approach Bob appreciated. He talks about the “keystone species” concept he is known for, his research with Dr. Simon Levin (ESA President 1990-91), as well as the importance of ecologists being involved in policy and politics, as his student Dr. Jane Lubchenco (ESA President, 1992-93) later admirably demonstrated.

In his interview, Bob commented “I’ve had a terrific time.” His influence on ecology and ecologists is tremendous; he will be sorely missed.


Selected Papers

1966. Food Web Complexity and Species Diversity The American Naturalist, Vol. 100, No. 910. (Jan. – Feb., 1966), pp. 65-75.
1969. The Pisaster-Tegula Interaction: Prey Patches, Predator Food Preference, and Intertidal Community Structure. Ecology Vol. 50, No. 6 (Nov., 1969), pp. 950-961.
1969. A note on trophic complexity and community stability. The American Naturalist, Vol 103 No. 929: 91-93.
1974. Levin, Simon and R. T. Paine. Disturbance, Patch Formation, and Community Structure (spatial heterogeneity/intertidal zone) Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA Vol. 71, No. 7, pp. 2744-2747.
1995. A conversation on refining the concept of keystone species. Conservation Biology 9(4):962-964.
2002. Trophic Control of Production in a Rocky Intertidal Community Science 296, 736-739.
2016. Worm, Boris and R. T. Paine. Humans as a Hyperkeystone Species Trends in Ecology and Evolution. In press, corrected proof.

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