A keystone ecologist: Robert Treat Paine, 1933-2016.


Journal Article

Robert T. Paine, who passed away on 13 June 2016, is among the most influential people in the history of ecology. Paine was an experimentalist, a theoretician, a practitioner, and proponent of the "ecology of place," and a deep believer in the importance of natural history to ecological understanding. His scientific legacy grew from the discovery of a link between top-down forcing and species diversity, a breakthrough that led to the ideas of both keystone species and trophic cascades, and to our early understanding of the mosaic nature of biological communities, causes of zonation across physical gradients, and the intermediate-disturbance hypothesis of species diversity. Paine's influence as a mentor was equally important to the growth of ecological thinking, natural resource conservation, and policy. He served ecology as an Ecological Society of America president, an editor of the Society's journals, a member of and contributor to the National Academy of Sciences and the National Research Council, and an in-demand advisor to various state and federal agencies. Paine's broad interests, enthusiasm, charisma, and humor deeply affected our lives and the lives of so many others.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Estes, JA; Dayton, PK; Kareiva, P; Levin, SA; Lubchenco, J; Menge, BA; Palumbi, SR; Power, ME; Terborgh, J

Published Date

  • November 2016

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 97 / 11

Start / End Page

  • 2905 - 2909

PubMed ID

  • 27870047

Pubmed Central ID

  • 27870047

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1939-9170

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0012-9658

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1002/ecy.1572


  • eng