Otolith Geochemistry & Fish Ecology Laboratory

Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology; University of California, Davis, 1 Shields Avenue, Davis, California 95616;

Curriculum Vitae

Dr. Levi S. Lewis is a Research Scientist and Lead PI of the Otolith Geochemistry and Fish Ecology Laboratory (OGFL) at the University of California, Davis. Dr. Lewis is an interdisciplinary ecologist who integrates field observations with experiments to quantify variation in natural communities, species interactions, life history & functional traits, and ecosystem dynamics. He has published research across a variety of ecosystems including salt marshes, coral reefs, seagrass beds, and tidal wetlands; and across diverse taxonomic groups including primary producers, invertebrates, and fishes. His work crosses multiple disciplines including experimental field ecology, stable isotope ecology, metabolic ecology, otolith geochemistry, and ecological modeling.

OGFL happy holidays crop

The OGFL, larval Longfin Smelt (showing otoliths), adult Longfin Smelt, and the RV LONSME (clockwise).

Current research in the OGFL focuses on the use of field- and otolith-based approaches (including increment and microchemical analyses) to quantify the distribution, habitats, age structure, growth rates, and life history diversity of imperiled estuarine fishes. Dr. Lewis enjoys teaching, mentoring, and inspiring students and audiences of diverse backgrounds, and he has actively sought and created many opportunities to do so.


Otoliths of Delta Smelt (Hypomesus transpacificus)


Dr. Lewis completed his Ph.D. in the Coral Reef Ecology Lab at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.  His dissertation research explored species interactions and ecological processes in coral reef ecosystems and how humans alter them.

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Dr. Lewis collecting data on a coral reef in Maui, HI

In 2009, before starting his PhD program, Levi accepted a summer position at the Interdisciplinary Center for Mass Spectrometry at UC Davis. There he conducted laser-ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICPMS) analyses on the otoliths (ear stones) of threatened Longfin Smelt to reconstruct their migratory behaviors.

Long-jawed mudsucker sagitae normal and fluorecent from 19mm SL fish

Otolith showing fluorescent internal tag (left) & daily rings (right)

In 2009, Levi attained his M.S. in Biology in the Fish Ecology Lab at San Diego State University under the guidance of Dr. Todd Anderson.  Levi’s master’s thesis examined the community-wide effects of small predators in seagrass ecosystems and trophic diversity among amphipod mesograzers.

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Dr. Lewis conducting experiments in seagrass beds in San Diego.

From 2002-2005, after attaining his B.S., Levi worked as a post-graduate researcher at the UCD Bodega Marine Lab where he studied the condition of fish populations in salt marshes bordering San Francisco and Tomales Bays.

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Dr. Lewis conducting experiments in marshes of San Francisco Bay.

From 2001-2002, as an undergraduate at UC Davis, Levi received an fellowship to conduct his own research project on fishes in the seagrass beds of Bodega Bay, CA. He also worked as a student intern for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Sacramento, CA, evaluating salmon spawning habitat in rivers and drafting flow recommendations for hydropower projects.

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Dr. Lewis & Dr. Jim Hobbs sampling fish communities at the Bodega Marine Laboratory.

Levi grew up in San Diego playing in, on, and around the ocean.  His delight in fishing and reverence for conservation led him to a career in ecology and conservation.

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Dr. Lewis beginning his career in ecology.

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