Carl Leavitt Hubbs


He was born in Williams, Arizona
Williams, Arizona
Williams is a city in Coconino County, Arizona, United States west of Flagstaff. Its population was 2,842 at the 2000 census; according to 2006 Census Bureau estimates, the population of the city is 3,094. It lies on the route of Historic Route 66, Interstate 40, and the Southwest Chief Amtrak...

. He was the son of Charles Leavitt and Elizabeth (née Goss) Hubbs. His father had a wide variety of jobs (farmer, iron mine owner, newspaper owner). The family moved several times before settling in San Diego where he got his first taste of natural history
Natural history
Natural history is the scientific research of plants or animals, leaning more towards observational rather than experimental methods of study, and encompasses more research published in magazines than in academic journals. Grouped among the natural sciences, natural history is the systematic study...

. After his parents divorced in 1907, he lived with his mother who opened a private school in Redondo Beach, California
Redondo Beach, California
Redondo Beach is one of the three Beach Cities located in Los Angeles County, California, United States. The population was 66,748 at the 2010 census, up from 63,261 at the 2000 census. The city is located in the South Bay region of the greater Los Angeles area.Redondo Beach was originally part of...

. His maternal grandmother Jane Goble Goss, one of the first female doctors, showed Hubbs how to harvest shellfish and other sea creatures.

One of his teachers, impressed by Hubbs abilities in science, recommended that he study chemistry at the University of Berkeley. The family moved once more to Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

. In Los Angeles, George Bliss Culver, one of the many volunteers of David Starr Jordan
David Starr Jordan
David Starr Jordan, Ph.D., LL.D. was a leading eugenicist, ichthyologist, educator and peace activist. He was president of Indiana University and Stanford University.-Early life and education:...

, encouraged Hubbs to abandon his study of birds and instead to study fish, particularly those fish that inhabited the rivers of Los Angeles, which at that time had not been well researched. Hubbs completed his studies at Stanford University
Stanford University
The Leland Stanford Junior University, commonly referred to as Stanford University or Stanford, is a private research university on an campus located near Palo Alto, California. It is situated in the northwestern Santa Clara Valley on the San Francisco Peninsula, approximately northwest of San...

, following particularly the ichthyologist Charles Henry Gilbert
Charles Henry Gilbert
Charles Henry Gilbert was a pioneer ichthyologist and fishery biologist of particular significance to natural history of the western United States. He collected and studied fishes from Central America north to Alaska and described many new species...

, a disciple of Jordan. Gilbert becomes Hubbs's mentor gives him the responsibility of caring for a collection of fish from Stanford. During this same period Hubbs meets John Otterbein Snyder, another disciple of Jordan. Hubbs obtained his BA in 1916 and his Masters in 1917.


From 1917 until 1920 Hubbs served as the assistant curator of fish, amphibians and reptiles at the Field Museum of Natural History
Field Museum of Natural History
The Field Museum of Natural History is located in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It sits on Lake Shore Drive next to Lake Michigan, part of a scenic complex known as the Museum Campus Chicago...

 in Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

. He married Laura Cornelia Clark on June 15, 1918, with whom he would have three children. His wife, who had also studied at Stanford, having received her BA in 1915 and her Masters in 1916, taught math.

In 1920, he took the position of curator of fish at the Museum of Zoology at the University of Michigan, a position he held for 24 years. In 1927, while working at the University of Michigan
University of Michigan
The University of Michigan is a public research university located in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the United States. It is the state's oldest university and the flagship campus of the University of Michigan...

, he received his Ph.D.
A Ph.D. is a Doctor of Philosophy, an academic degree.Ph.D. may also refer to:* Ph.D. , a 1980s British group*Piled Higher and Deeper, a web comic strip*PhD: Phantasy Degree, a Korean comic series* PhD Docbook renderer, an XML renderer...

, writing his dissertation on The Consequences of Structural Modifications of the Developmental Rate in Fishes Considered in Reference to Certain Problems of Evolution. Hubbs himself along with members of team and students contributed to the enrichment of the museum's collection. In 1929, he participated in an academic trip to Java
Java is an island of Indonesia. With a population of 135 million , it is the world's most populous island, and one of the most densely populated regions in the world. It is home to 60% of Indonesia's population. The Indonesian capital city, Jakarta, is in west Java...

 where he collected five tons of specimens. Hubbs began to study hybridization among different species of fish.


In addition to his position as conservator, Hubbs was the first director of the Institute for Fisheries Research in the Department of Conservation of Michigan (1930–1935). In this role, he conducted research on the diverse inventory of regional fauna, mortality, water pollution, growth and predation. During his stay at the University of Michigan, Hubbs issued more than 300 publications, almost entirely devoted to fish. His studies were not confined to the United States because he also studied a large collection of fish from Japan.

From 1944 to 1969, Hubbs taught biology at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California, is one of the oldest and largest centers for ocean and earth science research, graduate training, and public service in the world...

 at the University of California San Diego in La Jolla where he replaced Francis Bertody Sumner. From 1969 to 1979 he served as professor emeritus. He accepted the post for the new research opportunities it opened. Still, the position offered a lower salary and the rules prevented him from hiring his wife.

The restrictions of World War II forced the Scripps Institution to rent his research boat to the army, significantly restricting his research opportunities. During the summer of 1946, Errol Flynn
Errol Flynn
Errol Leslie Flynn was an Australian-born actor. He was known for his romantic swashbuckler roles in Hollywood films, being a legend and his flamboyant lifestyle.-Early life:...

, son of a marine biologist, offered Hubbs to accompany him during a cruise aboard his yacht, the Zaca. The results weren't great but Hubbs discovered high levels of endemism of species of Guadeloupe.

Int the years following the war, Hubbs began doing research in the field of commercial and recreational fishing. He observed changes in population patterns depending on the fluctuation in temperatures in the Pacific Ocean. He began studies of ancient climates through such tools as dating mollusk shells. His research led to the founding of a laboratory in 1957 to provide dating for archaeological and geological samples. He bequeathed his collection to San Diego's Archaeological Museum of Man in 1973.

Scientific Research

Hubbs issued 712 publications. At first he studied the fish of the Great Lakes
Great Lakes
The Great Lakes are a collection of freshwater lakes located in northeastern North America, on the Canada – United States border. Consisting of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, they form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth by total surface, coming in second by volume...

 but after moving to La Jolla, he expanded his research to include marine mammals. He also served as an active adviser, both through articles for popular magazines, the Encyclopedia Britannica, and radio broadcasts. He educated the public from 1920 to 1930 the need to protect the habitats of marine mammals. For his environmental protection work he received a gold medal of the San Diego Natural History Society.

He was a member of several of learned societies
Learned society
A learned society is an organization that exists to promote an academic discipline/profession, as well a group of disciplines. Membership may be open to all, may require possession of some qualification, or may be an honor conferred by election, as is the case with the oldest learned societies,...

, participating in the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists
American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists
The American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists is an international organization devoted to the scientific studies of ichthyology and herpetology...

, the Wildlife Society of San Diego Natural History Society, and the National Academy of Sciences of the Linnean Society of London
Linnean Society of London
The Linnean Society of London is the world's premier society for the study and dissemination of taxonomy and natural history. It publishes a zoological journal, as well as botanical and biological journals...

. Hubbs received numerous awards from the Academy of Natural Sciences
Academy of Natural Sciences
The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, formerly Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, is the oldest natural science research institution and museum in the New World...

 and the California Academy of Sciences
California Academy of Sciences
The California Academy of Sciences is among the largest museums of natural history in the world. The academy began in 1853 as a learned society and still carries out a large amount of original research, with exhibits and education becoming significant endeavors of the museum during the twentieth...


His name was given to five genus and twenty-two species of fish, a genus of lichen, a species of birds, two species of mollusk, a species of crabs, three species of cave arthropods, two species of insects, three species of algae, a species of lichen, a whale and a dried up lake in Nevada.

External links

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