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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Department of Invertebrate Zoology

image of Dr. Nancy Knowlton

bar image of book Citizens of the Sea

Nancy KnowltonSant Chair for Marine Science

  • Phone: 202-633-0668
  • Fax: 202-633-0182
  • E-mail:

  • Mailing Address:
    Smithsonian Institution
    PO Box 37012, MRC 163
    Washington, DC 20013-7012

  • Courier Delivery Address:
    Smithsonian Institution
    National Museum of Natural History
    10th and Constitution Ave, NW
    Washington, DC 20560-0163

    Responsibilities: Sant Chair for Marine Science and Invertebrate Zoology Staff

    Smith College, Biology, 1967-69
    Harvard University, A.B. in Biology, summa cum laude, 1969-71
    University of California at Berkeley, Ph.D. in Zoology, 1972-78
    NATO Postdoctoral Fellow, Univ. of Liverpool & Cambridge Univ., 1979

    Research Interests:
    Marine biodiversity and conservation; Ecology, evolution, behavior, and systematics of coral reef organisms.

    Professional Activities: Senior scientist emeritus, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute; Adjunct professor, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego; Board of Directors, Coral Reef Alliance; Editorial Board, Annual Review of Marine Science; Pew Marine Fellows Advisory Committee; Chair, Editorial Board, Ocean Portal; Founder, Scripps Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation.

    Honors and Elected Offices: AAAS Board of Directors, Peter Benchley Award for Science in Service of Conservation.

    Selected Publications:

    Knowlton, N. 2010. Citizens of the Sea. National Geographic Press.

    Plaisance, L, Knowlton, N., Paulay, G. and Meyer, C. 2009. Reef-associated crustacean fauna: biodiversity estimates using semi-quantitative sampling and DNA barcoding. Coral Reefs 28: 977-986.

    Hurt, C., Anker, A. and Knowlton, N. 2009. A multilocus test of simultaneous divergence across the Isthmus of Panama using snapping shrimp. Evolution 63: 514-530.

    Fukami, H., et al. 2008. Mitochondrial and nuclear genes suggest that stony corals are monophyletic but most families of stony corals are not (Order Scleractinia, Class Anthozoa, Phylum Cnidaria). PLoS One 3: e3222. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0003222 (9 pp)

    Knowlton, N. 2008. Coral reefs. Current Biology 18: R18-R21.

    Knowlton, N. and J. B. C. Jackson. 2008. Shifting baselines, local impacts, and global change on coral reefs. PLoS Biology 6: e54, 6 pp.

    Hoegh-Guldberg, et al. 2007. Coral reefs under rapid climate change and ocean acidification. Science 318: 1737-1742.

    Sala, E. and N. Knowlton. 2006. Global marine biodiversity trends. Annual Review of Environment and Resources 31: 93-122.

    Knowlton, N. 2004. Multiple “stable” states and the conservation of marine ecosystems. Progress in Oceanography 60: 387-396.

    Fukami, H., A. F. Budd, D. R. Levitan, J. Jara, R. Kersanach, and N. Knowlton. 2004. Geographical differences in species boundaries among members of the Montastraea anularis complex based on molecular and morphological markers. Evolution 58: 324-337.

    Levitan, D., H. Fukami, J. Jara, D. Kline, T. McGovern, K. McGhee, C. Swanson, and N. Knowlton. 2004. Mechanisms of reproductive isolation among sympatric broadcast-spawning corals. Evolution 58: 308-323.

    Fukami, H., A. F. Budd, G. Paulay, A. Solé-Cava, C. A. Chen, K. Iwao, and N. Knowlton. 2004. Conventional taxonomy obscures deep divergence between Pacific and Atlantic corals. Nature 427: 832-835.

    Knowlton, N. and F. Rohwer. 2003. Multispecies microbial mutualisms on coral reefs: the host as habitat. American Naturalist 162 (Suppl): S51-S62.

    Toller, W. W., R. Rowan and N. Knowlton. 2001. Repopulation of zooxanthellae in the Caribbean corals Montastraea annularis and M. faveolata following experimental and disease-associated bleaching. Biological Bulletin 201: 360-373.

    Williams, S. T. and N. Knowlton. 2001. Mitochondrial pseudogenes are pervasive and often insidious in the snapping shrimp genus Alpheus. Molecular Biology and Evolution 18: 1484-1493.

    Knowlton, N. 2001. The future of coral reefs. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 98: 5419-5425.

    Knowlton, N. 2000. Molecular genetic analyses of species boundaries in the sea. Hydrobiologia 420: 73-90.

    Herre, A., N. Knowlton, U. Mueller and S. Rehner. 1999. The evolution of mutualisms: exploring the paths between conflict and cooperation. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 14: 49-53.

    Knowlton, N. and L. A. Weigt. 1998. New dates and new rates for divergence across the Isthmus of Panama. Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences 265:2257-2263.

    Doebeli, M. and N. Knowlton. 1998. The evolution of interspecific mutualisms. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 95: 8676-8680.

    Rowan, R., N. Knowlton, A. Baker, and J. Jara. 1997. Landscape ecology of algal symbionts creates variation in episodes of coral bleaching. Nature 388: 265-269.

    Knowlton, N. and J. B. C. Jackson. 1994. New taxonomy and niche partitioning on coral reefs: jack of all trades or master of some? Trends in Ecology and Evolution 9: 7-9.

    Knowlton, N., L. A. Weigt, L. A. Solorzano, D. E. K. Mills and E. Bermingham. 1993. Divergence in proteins, mitochondrial DNA, and reproductive compatibility across the Isthmus of Panama. Science 260: 1629-1632.

    Knowlton, N. 1993. Sibling species in the sea. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 24: 189-216.

    Knowlton, N., E. Weil, L. A. Weigt, and H. M. Guzman. 1992. Sibling species in Montastraea annularis, coral bleaching, and the coral climate record. Science 255: 330-333.

    Knowlton, N. 1992. Thresholds and multiple stable states in coral reef community dynamics. American Zoologist 32: 674-682

    Knowlton, N., J. C. Lang, M. C. Rooney, and P. Clifford. 1981. Evidence for delayed mortality in hurricane-damaged Jamaican staghorn corals. Nature 294: 251-252.

    Woodley, J. D., et al. 1981. Hurricane Allen's impact on Jamaican coral reefs. Science 214: 749-755.

    Knowlton, N. and G. A. Parker. 1979. An evolutionary stable strategy approach to indiscriminate spite. Nature 279: 419-421.

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