Eric Berlow

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Eric L. Berlow
Alma mater
Known for
Scientific career
Doctoral advisorJane Lubchenco and Bruce Menge

Eric L. Berlow is an American ecologist and data scientist. He co-founded Vibrant Data Inc.[1], a data interface company, which was acquired by Rakuten Inc.[2][3]in 2016. Prior to Vibrant Data, Berlow was the founding director of the University of California's first science and education institute inside Yosemite National Park which facilitated efforts to leverage data for informing conservation policy and natural resource management. Berlow is internationally recognized for his research on ecological complexity, with articles in Nature[4], Science[5], and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences[6].[7] He is best known for his TED talks on simplifying complexity and finding hidden patterns in complex data. [8][9][10] Berlow has received a TED Fellowship, a TED Senior Fellowship, an Alexander Von Humboldt Fellowship, and a National Science Foundation Post-doctoral Fellowship. He was named one of the top 100 Creatives by Origin magazine[11]. Berlow is currently a science advisor to Phylagen[12], a Fellow of the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis[13], and a Senior Fellow at the Center for the Unintended Consequences of Technology[14].


Berlow completed his undergraduate studies at Brown University in 1984, earning a B.A. degree in biology. He received a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Oregon State University in 1995 in marine ecology with a thesis on ecological complexity, supervised by Jane Lubchenco and Bruce A. Menge. He was a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California at Berkeley working with Carla D'Antonio on the ecology of mountain ecosystems in the Sierra Nevada.


Berlow's research career has focused on ecology, food webs, and networks. He was the founding director of the University of California Sierra Nevada Research Station in Yosemite National Park.[15] Examples of his highly cited network ecology publications include a 2009 paper in PNAS for which he was the lead author focused on predicting interaction strengths in food webs,[16] a 1999 paper in Nature on "Strong effects of weak interactions in ecological communities",[17] and a 1994 paper in Ecological Monographs on the keystone species concept.[18] He co-authored a paper that was among the top twenty most cited papers [19] in Environment and Ecology from 1998-2008 entitled "Biodiversity - global biodiversity scenarios for the year 2100".[20] Berlow has also contributed to conservation through his work on alpine meadows [21] and threatened amphibians.[22]

In 2013 Berlow co-founded Vibrant Data Inc.,[23] a cloud-based data analytics platform for analyzing complex relationships. As a speaker at the TED Conferences, Berlow has given three presentations on topics including Simplifying Complexity,[24] Mapping Ideas Worth Spreading,[25] and The Ecological Structure of Collaboration.[26]


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  2. ^ "Slice Technologies Acquires Vibrant Data to Bring a New Dimension to E-Commerce Data".
  3. ^ "Vibrant Data".
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  15. ^ "Yosemite Field Station".
  16. ^ Berlow, EL; Dunne, JA; Martinez, ND; Stark, PB; Williams, RJ; Brose, U (2009). "Simple prediction of interaction strengths in complex food webs". PNAS. 106 (1): 187–91. doi:10.1073/pnas.0806823106. PMC 2629248. PMID 19114659.
  17. ^ Nature 398, 330-334 Strong effects of weak interactions in ecological communities
  18. ^ Menge, Bruce A. (1994). "The Keystone Species Concept: Variation in Interaction Strength in a Rocky Intertidal Habitat". Ecological Monographs. 64 (3): 249–286. doi:10.2307/2937163. JSTOR 2937163.
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  20. ^ Biodiversity - global biodiversity scenarios for the year 2100
  21. ^ Berlow, Eric L. (2002). "SHRUB EXPANSION IN MONTANE MEADOWS: THE INTERACTION OF LOCAL-SCALE DISTURBANCE AND SITE ARIDITY". Ecological Applications. 12 (4): 1103–1118. doi:10.1890/1051-0761(2002)012[1103:SEIMMT]2.0.CO;2.
  22. ^ Matchett, J. R.; Stark, Philip B.; Ostoja, Steven M.; Knapp, Roland A.; McKenny, Heather C.; Brooks, Matthew L.; Langford, William T.; Joppa, Lucas N.; Berlow, Eric L. (2015). "Detecting the influence of rare stressors on rare species in Yosemite National Park using a novel stratified permutation test". Scientific Reports. 5. doi:10.1038/srep10702. PMID 26031755.
  23. ^ "Vibrant Data".
  24. ^ "Simplifying complexity".
  25. ^ "Mapping ideas worth spreading".
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