Paul Dayton
Professor of Oceanography
Integrative Oceanography Division

Paul Dayton is a professor of oceanography in the Integrative Oceanography Division at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego.

A biological oceanographer, Dayton researches coastal and estuarine habitats, including seafloor (“benthic”) and kelp communities, as well as global fisheries. He has conducted investigations in several parts of the world, including spending 50 months in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, performing research during more than 500 dives under the ice. The scientific papers resulting from these research projects are largely believed to have set the standard for Antarctic undersea ecology.

He has studied nearshore benthic communities in many parts of the world and is presently working on California kelp communities and Antarctic benthic communities. Dayton’s studies also include the impacts of overfishing on marine ecosystems.

Dayton coauthored a study released by the Pew Oceans Commission on the ecological effects of fishing in marine ecosystems of the U.S. The report, which has been called a “watershed” study, presents overwhelming evidence that the unintended consequences of fishing on marine ecosystems are “severe, dramatic, and, in some cases, irreversible.”

His career has been motivated by the belief that one must understand nature to protect it, and he has attempted to use analytical techniques to understand marine community systems.

He has served as a director of the Ocean Conservancy and the National Research Council Panel on Marine Protected Areas.

Dayton was born in Tucson, AZ, and received a BSc in zoology from the University of Arizona. He earned a PhD in zoology from the University of Washington, Seattle.

Dayton received the E. O. Wilson Naturalist Award from the American Society of Naturalists and the Faculty Research Lecture Award from the UCSD Division of the Academic Senate. He also was the first winner of the Ramon Margalef Prize in Barcelona and received the third lifetime achievement award from the Western Society of Naturalists.

He received the NOGI Award, science category, from the Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences (AUAS). The NOGI (New Orleans Grand Isle) Award is the oldest award in the diving industry. He was awarded a Scientific Diving Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Academy of Underwater Sciences. He also received an Award for Merit from the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, CA, for his outstanding scientific research and his work in management and policy.

Dayton is the only person ever to be awarded both the George Mercer and William Cooper awards from the Ecological Society of America (ESA). He was appointed a member of the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission by President George H. W. Bush. He received the Louise Burt Award for excellence in oceanographic writing from Oregon State University.

He has worked with the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission and the UC Natural Reserve System. He is a member of the ESA and the American Society of Naturalists, and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Last updated January 2016