Thursday, September 17, 2009

Lawrence Basil Slobodkin (1928-2009)

Larry Slobodkin, eminent ecologist, founding chairman of the Stony Brook University Ecology and Evolution Department, and Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences passed away last Saturday.

Larry's impact on the science of ecology is immeasurable, particularly with regards to linking population dynamics with ecosystem ecology. A concrete example of this is his famous HSS paper. With coauthors Nelson Hairston Sr. and Jerry Smith, Slobodkin use a simple observation (the world is green) to deduce that predators limit herbivore abundance, thus allow plants to flourish.

Beyond his scientific contributions, Slobodkin is reknown for creating the world's first graduate program in ecology and evolutionary biology (at Stony Brook University). Many of the best and brightest in the field have either taught or schooled in this program.

Larry's (academic) nephew, ecologist Mike Rosenzweig, wrote a great piece about him for Evolutionary Ecology Research. Larry contributed this autobiographical article. More articles in the EER special issue in his honor are available here.

NY Times Obituary

Update: Carol Reid wrote a nice tribute to Larry here.

Update: An obituary was published in PLoS Biology.


  1. I wouldn't know. Slide rules are beyond my ken (and my time).

  2. I am not a scientist (although I am a library cataloger: We organize the world's knowledge!), but I was fortunate enough to make Larry's acquaintance on several occasions, due to my interest in the work of his father Louis Slobodkin. Please check out my tributes to both these amazing men at