Daniel B. Botkin, PhD

About This Member:

Dr. Botkin has served on the faculty of Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies; the University of California, Santa Barbara., where he was chairman of The Environmental Studies Program and professor of biology; George Mason University, Fairfax Virginia, where he directed a multidisciplinary program on global change; and the University of Miami, Coral Gables, Fl, where he has served as Professor (adjunct) of Biology.

Dr. Botkin has an unusually broad background, with a B.A. in physics from the University of Rochester, an M.A. in English literature from the University of Wisconsin, Madison; and a Ph.D. in Biology emphasizing plant ecology from Rutgers University.

His research on climate change began in 1968 and continues today.  In cooperation with two scientists at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center, Yorktown Heights, N Y— theoretical physicist James Janak and forestry statistician James Wallis—in 1970 he developed the first successful ecosystem computer model named JABOWA, which simulates the growth of forests and led to a new approach to ecological research known as individual-based modeling.  JABOWA has been used widely around the world and has been widely imitated.  Since the 1970s, Dr. Botkin has used this model to forecast the effects of climate change on forests and their endangered species in many areas, including North America, Siberia, and Australia.  It is well-validated and has been used to forecast changes in carbon storage, biomass, and species composition.  He has also done extensive field research on climate change.  In the 1990s, at the request of NASA’s then head of biological and medical research, he developed and directed the first use of satellite remote sensing to study land-based ecosystems.

Dr. Botkin’s field research includes the study of wildlife and vegetation in a number of wilderness areas, including the U. S. Boundary Waters Canoe Area, the first U.S. Legally Designated official wilderness area; remote areas in Siberia; The Serengeti National Park in East Africa; Kruger National Park, South Africa; and other wildlife wilderness areas in Kenya, Zambabwa, and South Africa.  With ethnologist, historian, and Arctic explorer Dr. John Bockstoce he has analyzed the history of the hunting, catch, and population change of the bowhead whale, based on the use of logbook records from Yankee Whaling Ships summing to more that 65,000 days of historical information; changes in Africa elephant populations based on direct aerial field counts in Zimbabwe; the population history of moose on U.S. Isle Royale National Park, among many other parks and wildlife areas.

Dr. Botkin has extensive experience assessing and working to solve major environmental problems, such as: the conservation of African elephants, bowhead whales, salmon; and a variety of species of birds.  He used his expertise and skills to direct a five-year study on forests and salmon for the state of Oregon; to direct a three year study to conserve the 1.3 million birds using California’s Mono Lake; and advised the Taiwan top-level government on applying modern ecological concepts to solve environmental problems.  He has led the development of the National Science Foundation’s long-term ecological research program.

Dr. Botkin is also well-known for his historical environmental research which demonstrated that the ancient idea of a balance of nature—the idea that nature left alone achieved a single steady-state and was only disturbed by human action— had no basis in fact.  His 1990 book, Discordant Harmonies: A New Ecology for the 21st Century,established a foundation for the contrary— a dynamic, always changing, nature. He updated this foundation in his 2012 book The Moon in the Nautilus Shell: Discordant Harmonies Reconsidered (Oxford University Press, New York).  He extended the basis for this idea by following the trail of the Lewis and Clark expedition and the travels through by Henry David Thoreau through the Maine Woods, showing how nature had changed both naturally and from human actions in his books: Beyond the Stony Mountains: Nature in the American West from Lewis and Clark to Today and No Man’s Garden: Thoreau and a New Vision for Civilization and Nature.

Dr. Botkin is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Cosmos Club, and the Explorers Club. Among his awards are: Marquis Who’s Who Lifetime Achievement Award 2017; Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, John C. Pritzlaff Conservation Award for his lifetime work; Mitchell International Prize for Sustainable Development based on his climate change research; Fellow, Rockefeller Bellagio Study and Conference Center, Como Italy; Fellow, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, D.C.

Dr. Botkin is married to Diana M. Perez, one of the leading book editors for most of America’s major publishers and as an editor of technical investments for Morgan Stanley Corporation.  She has also served as editor for several of Dr. Botkin’s books and many of his articles.  They live in New York City."