Kyle S. Van Houtan

Ph.D., Duke University
M.Sc., Stanford University
B.A., University of Virginia

Leader, Marine Turtle Assessment Program, NOAA Fisheries
1601 Kapiolani Blvd, Suite 1000, Honolulu, Hawaii 96814

Adjunct Assoc. Professor, Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, Duke University

Telephone: +1 808 944 2128, Email: kyle dot vanhoutan at gmail dot com


Research interest: Science, policy, and ethics to understand and prevent extinctions

Selected Publications: (complete list)
1. Van Houtan, K.S., McClenachan L., and Kittinger J.N. (2013) Seafood menus reflect long-term ocean changes. Front. Ecol. Environ. 11(6): 289-290.
2. Jones T.T., Van Houtan K.S., Bostrom B.L., et. al. (2013) Calculating the ecological impacts of animal-borne instruments on aquatic organisms. Methods Ecol. Evol.
3. Kittinger J.N., Van Houtan K.S., McClenachan L., and Lawrence A. (2013) Using historical data to assess the biogeography of population recovery. Ecography 36(8): 868-872.
4. Van Houtan K.S., Halley J.M. (2011) Long-Term Climate Forcing in Loggerhead Sea Turtle Nesting. PLoS ONE 6:e19043.
5. Laurance, W.F. and 15 others (2011) The fate of Amazonian forest fragments: a 32-year investigation. Biol Conserv. 144: 56-67.
6. Van Houtan K.S., Hargrove S.K., Balazs G.H. (2010) Land Use, Macroalgae, and a Tumor-Forming Disease in Marine Turtles. PLoS ONE 5:e12900. NEWS
7. Van Houtan, K.S. & Northcott M.S. (Eds.) (2010). Diversity and Dominion: Dialogues in Ecology, Ethics, and Theology. Wipf and Stock, Eugene, Oregon.
8. Van Houtan, K.S., Halley, J.M., Pimm, S.L., & van Aarde, R.J. (2009) Achieving success with small, translocated mammal populations. Conserv. Lett. 2:254-262.
9. Van Houtan, K.S., Halley, J.M., Pimm, S.L., Bierregaard, R.O., & Lovejoy, T.E. (2007) Dispersal of Amazonian birds in continuous and fragmented forest. Ecol. Lett. 10(3): 219-229.
10. Van Houtan, K.S. (2006) Conservation as virtue: a scientific and social process for conservation ethics. Conserv. Biol. 20(5): 1367-1372.


I. Population Ecology + Conservation Planning. Witnessing the near extinction of the bald eagle as a child spurred my interest in understanding and preventing extinction. Today my work is to understand long-term population trends and their causes, mostly with protected species of birds, sea turtles, and mammals. My research in this area focuses on extinction risk and population viability models, climate forcing and climate change, historical ecology, life history and physiology, biotelemetry, and models that layer determinism and stochasticity.


II. Coastal Ecosystem Management. Coastal areas are profoundly important for biodiversity and human populations - and may be the most impacted by climate change. These ecosystems are already plagued by overexploitation, pollution, and habitat loss making future management an even more complex challenge. My research in this area focuses on eutrophication, invasive species, diseases in marine populations, commercial and small-scale fisheries, geospatial ecology, and developing citizen science initiatives to monitor wildlife and engage in conservation.


III. Environmental Policy + Ethics. Twenty years of experience in academia and in federal agencies has shown me that environmental management requires both science and culturally literacy. Though I have served on several federal Endangered Species Act status reviews, I also lecture widely in community forums, schools, and churches on biodiversity science and ethics. I have active research programs in improving formal statutory assessments, incorporating structured decision-making, but also in moral philosophy, virtue theory, narrative theology, and the history of social movements.


Selected honors and awards:
Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (2012)
Profiled in American Fisheries Society "Future of Fisheries" mentoring book (2014)
U.S. Navy contract for sea turtle monitoring in the Marianas Islands (2013)
NOAA grant for developing ecosystem indicators for oceanic sea turtle populations (2013)
NOAA grant for advanced sea turtle biotelemetry (2013)
THALIS/General Secretariat of Greece historical ecology research grant (2012)
Walt Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund grant for sea turtle tumor research (2010)
GeoEye Foundation grant for remote sensing of fisheries impacts (2008)
USFWS contract for modeling dispersal in the Cape Sable sparrow (2006)
NPS contract for modeling sea turtle population dynamics (2006)
Mustard Seed Foundation Harvey Fellows dissertation fellowship (2005)
Kenan Institute ethics colloquium fellowship (2004)


Selected popular media on my work:
Joyce, C (2013) Hawaiian Menus Say "Aloha `oe" To Once Popular Fish. NPR Morning Edition. 9 August. (radio interview)
Nuwer, R (2013) What can old menus from Hawaii tell us about changing ocean health?. Smithsonian 12 August
Duhaime-Ross, A (2013) Souvenir Seafood Menus Offer Glimpse into Hawaii’s Oceans of Old. Scientific American. 9 August.
Kwok, R (2013) Seafood menus offer peek into Oceans' past. Conservation. 2 August.
Pimm, S (2013) Historical data suggests Hawaiian sea turtle recovery is limited. National Geographic. 26 May.
Larson, P (2012) President Obama Honors Early-Career Scientists and Engineers. White House blog. 31 July.
NOAA Fisheries (2012) Van Houtan pioneers understanding of climate effects on sea turtles. Featured Stories. 23 July
Malakoff, D (2011) Forecasting turtles. Conservation. 29 April.
Mulvaney, K (2011) Climate is the biggest factor in turtle declines. Discovery News. 20 April.
Kessler, R (2011) Humans not solely to blame for sea turtle declines. Science NOW. 28 April.
Mulvaney, K (2011) Solving the mystery of a turtle disease. Discovery News. 18 January.
Malakoff, D (2010) The worrying case of turtle tumors. Conservation. Vol 11 (4): 4-5.
Kessler, R (2010) Sea turtle herpes, linked to sewage?. National Geographic News. 9 Nov.
Fox, D (2007) Frequent hurricanes decimate sea turtle beaches. New Scientist. 11 August.
Dean, C (2007) Satellites Show Harvest of Mud That Trawlers Leave Behind. New York Times. 15 May, p F3.
Witze, A (2007) Ghosts of Destruction. Nature. Vol 447, p 123.
Hume, M (2007) Photos prove damage caused by trawlers. The Globe and Mail 7 May.
Sharpless, A. (2007) Satellite images reveal scale of destruction. Grist. 11 May.
Ward, A.H. (2006) U.S. Evangelicals Speak Out on Climate Change. Voice of America. 15 Aug (radio interview)
Adams, J.P. (2005) Meeting of the Waters. Duke Divinity Magazine. Fall 2005: 4-7. COVER
Wikipedia entry for the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers
Wikipedia entry for the Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project