Joseph H. Connell

Joseph Hurd Connell FAA (5 October 1923 – 1 September 2020) was an American ecologist. He earned his MA degree in zoology at the University of California, Berkeley and his PhD at Glasgow University.[2] Connell’s first research paper examined the effects of interspecific competition and predation on populations of a barnacle species on the rocky shores of Scotland.[3] According to Connell, this classic paper is often cited because it addressed ecological topics that previously had been given minor roles.[2] Together, with a subsequent barnacle study on the influence of competition and desiccation,[4] these two influential papers have laid the foundation for future research and the findings continue to have relevance to current ecology.[5] His early work earned him a Guggenheim fellowship in 1962[6] and the George Mercer Award in 1963.[7]

Joseph H. Connell
Born(1923-10-05)October 5, 1923
DiedSeptember 1, 2020(2020-09-01) (aged 96)[1]
EducationUniversity of Chicago
University of California, Berkeley
Alma materUniversity of Glasgow
Known forIntermediate Disturbance Hypothesis
research on competition
Scientific career

In 2010, a Symposium was held in his honour by the Ecological Society of America said that "Connell’s observations, insights, syntheses, and example have motivated education and research in population and community ecology for over six decades".[8] Among his important works were the Connell–Slatyer model of ecological succession (facilitation, tolerance and inhibition) and the Janzen-Connell hypothesis that explains plant-species diversity in tropical forests.[9] Other notable works are his 1978 intermediate disturbance hypothesis[10] and his thirty-year study of corals in the Great Barrier Reef.[11]

He was a corresponding member of the Australian Academy of Science,[12] a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences,[13] and a Guggenheim fellow,[14] and has received the Eminent Ecologist Award from the Ecological Society of America.[15] He was a professor emeritus at the University of California Santa Barbara until his death in September 2020.[16]

Connell was elected to the Australian Academy of Science in 2002 as a Corresponding Fellow.


Joseph H. Connell did a great deal of research in the field of ecology. His extensive research contributed to the understanding of ecology today. Connell was known for his work studying tropical diversity.[17] Much of his studies focused on determining community structure based on physical factors, actions and interaction of species that are involved in competition, predation, and recruitment.[18]

Connell’s paper on “Diversity in tropical rain forests and coral reefs” had made it clear that disturbance have a crucial impacts on the ecological communities.[19] This article discuss the organization and assemblages of two competing species that is coral reefs and tropical rain forest. He explored that trees in the tropical rain forest and coral reefs are in non-equilibrium state, and if they are not disturbed, then they will progress towards low-equilibrium diversity community.[19]

Besides this paper he wrote other numerous papers in proving existing evidence and trying to make the concepts clear that explains the structure of communities, different patterns of successions and species biodiversity.[18] Connell was not only a great ecologist researcher but he was also a great teacher and mentor. As a teacher he encouraged his students to go beyond and look beneath the surface and evaluate the ecological matter. As a mentor, he was very eager to discuss ecological concepts with his undergraduate students, and help them in their work.[18] Overall, Connell supported ecology with his great work. Thus, for all of his hard work he received awards such as George Mercer Award in 1963.[15] and Eminent Ecologist Award form Ecological Society of America.[18]

[1] ESA History. Ecological Society of America. Web. 21 February 2014.

[1] Connell, J. H. (1978). Diversity in tropical rain forests and coral reefs. Science, 199(4335), 1302-1310.

[1] Day, R. W., Huchette, S., Haliotis, S. F., Dixon, C., Murdoch, W. W., Nisbet, R. M., & Briggs, C. J. A Celebration and Exploration of Joseph H. Connell’s Conceptual and Empirical Influence, Inspiration, and Legacy in Ecological Research and Education.


Selected publicationsEdit


  1. ^ "Joseph Hurd Connell (obit)". The Santa Barbara Independent. 15 September 2020. Retrieved 27 September 2020.
  2. ^ a b This Week’s Citation Classic. Garfield library. Web. 21 Feb. 2014.
  3. ^ Connell, JH. Effects of competition, predation by Thais lapillus, and other factors on natural populations of the barnacle Balanus balanoides. Ecological Monographs. 31 (1961):61-104 Print.
  4. ^ Connell, JH. The influence of interspecific competition and other factors on the distribution of the barnacle Chthamalus stellatus. Ecology. 42 (1961):710-723. Print.
  5. ^ Cain, M., Bowman, W. and S. Hacker S. Ecology. Sundeland, MA: Sinauer Associates, 2011. Print.
  6. ^ "Joseph H. Connell - John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation". Retrieved 2013-05-08.
  7. ^ ESA History. Ecological Society of America. Web. 21 February 2014.
  8. ^ "Session: SYMP 14 - A Celebration and Exploration of Joseph H. Connell's Conceptual and Empirical Influence, Inspiration, and Legacy in Ecological Research and Education". 2010-08-04. Retrieved 2013-05-08.
  9. ^ Schupp, EW. The Janzen-Connell Model for Tropical Tree Diversity-Population implications and the Importance of Spatial Scale. American Naturalist 140(3) (1992): 526-530. Print.
  10. ^ Russell, Peter J. et al. Biology - Exploring the Diversity of Life: Volume 3. Toronto: Nelson Education Ltd. 2010. Print.
  11. ^ Connell, J., Hughes, T., and C. Wallace. A 30-Year Study of Coral Abundance, Recruitment, and Disturbance at Several Scales in Space and Time. Ecological Monographs. 67(4) (1997): 461-488. Print.
  12. ^ "Australian Academy of Science - Corresponding members". 2009-04-07. Archived from the original on 2010-03-16. Retrieved 2013-05-08.
  13. ^ New Members: Class of 2005.
  14. ^ "Joseph H. Connell - John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation". Archived from the original on 2012-09-20. Retrieved 2013-05-08.
  15. ^ a b "History". ESA. Archived from the original on 2008-12-05. Retrieved 2013-05-08.
  16. ^ "Partners Program | UCSB Engineering Industry Center". Archived from the original on 2012-03-23. Retrieved 2013-05-08.
  17. ^ "A Celebration and Exploration of Joseph H. Connell's Conceptual and Empirical Influence, Inspiration, and Legacy in Ecological Research and Education". The Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America. 91 (4): 464–466. 2010-10-01. doi:10.1890/0012-9623-91.4.464. ISSN 2327-6096.
  18. ^ a b c d Holbrook, Sally J. "AWARDS EMINENT ECOLOGIST" (PDF). Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  19. ^ a b Connell, Joseph H. (1978). "Diversity in Tropical Rain Forests and Coral Reefs". Science. 199 (4335): 1302–1310. JSTOR 1745369.