The American Society of Mammalogists has chosen James Estes, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UC Santa Cruz, to receive the 2012 C. Hart Merriam Award. This award was established in 1974 to recognize outstanding, sustained research contributions to the discipline of mammalogy.

Estes is known for his groundbreaking research on the ecological role of sea otters in coastal ecosystems. He has ongoing research projects on the ecology of coastal marine communities and strategies for marine conservation. In selecting him for this award, the Merriam Award Committee noted that Estes has made multiple seminal contributions to the understanding of marine ecology, with an emphasis on the biology of sea otters.

A fellow of the California Academy of Sciences, Estes joined the UCSC faculty in 1978. His awards and honors include a Pew Marine Conservation Fellowship and the USGS Shoemaker Award for Distinguished Achievement in Communication. He earned a B.A. in zoology from the University of Minnesota, M.S. in zoology from Washington State University, and Ph.D. in biological sciences and statistics from the University of Arizona.

Estes will receive the award and give a plenary talk at the annual meeting of the American Society of Mammalogists in Philadelphia in June 2013.