Craig Pease


Dr. Craig M. Pease, a research scientist, teaches science courses to Vermont Law School students, pursues his scientific research on population dynamics, works to improve the role of science in public policy and decision-making, and writes a regular Science and the Law column for the Environmental Forum.

He holds expertise in demographic and population models, particularly of plants, songbirds, and bears. He is a leading expert on the Yellowstone grizzlies, and filed a petition asking that they be listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. He challenged the federal government's handling of Yellowstone grizzly bear research and has repeatedly asked the U.S. government to release its voluminous, and mostly secret, scientific data on Yellowstone grizzly bears. The questions that direct his research are simple: What does the scientific data show, and what is the best management approach given this scientific knowledge?

Dr. Pease's VLS students learn to read, understand, and critique scientific papers, using the same questions and approach that scientists themselves employ. His students, for example, read scientific papers on dioxin and cancer, hurricanes and global climate change, mercury and cognitive ability, and the reliability of eyewitness evidence, among other topics of interest to environmental attorneys. In his classes, he uses specific scientific papers to illustrate and develop more general concepts about how science operates, as outlined in Science for Business, Law and Journalism, a short text that he has coauthored on the scientific method.
He received his BA degree in biology, summa cum laude, in 1977 and an MS degree in systems science (engineering) in 1981, both from the University of California, Los Angeles, and his PhD degree in evolutionary biology from the University of Chicago in 1985. He did a post-doctorate in applied mathematics at the Weizmann Institute of Science. He was a faculty member at the University of Texas at Austin from 1986 to 1998, when he joined the VLS faculty.

Click here for the full listing of Professor Pease's Science and the Law columns



Mixing Smelt, Salmon and People. Science and the Law column, The Environmental Forum, May-June 2010.

Habitat Loss and Bird Extinctions. Science and the Law column, The Environmental Forum, March-April 2010.​

Toxicity: You Can't Dial C for Cancer. Science and the Law column, The Environmental Forum, September-October 2009.

It's Owls All the Way Down. Science and the Law column, The Environmental Forum, May-June 2009.​


Coauthored with J.J. Bull. Science for Business, Law and Journalism. Notes for a non-majors undergraduate course in scientific thinking. The notes present key scientific concepts, such as models, data, problems with data (measurement error, sampling error, human error, bias), good research design to minimize error (explicit protocol, replication, randomization, standards, blind), evaluation of data including experiments vs. observational studies, and correlations, control and treatment groups, confounding, controlled for, and causation. The notes illustrate these concepts with non-scientific examples such as car repair and condoms, and scientific examples that resonate with undergraduates, such as illicit drug testing. About 100 pages.

At VLS, I have extended the approach in these notes. Currently my teaching pairs these notes with real scientific papers of relevance to law students. In this way I walk law and policy students through real scientific papers on human epidemiology, testing pharmaceuticals for safety and effectiveness, gun control, mercury toxicity, genetically modified organisms and cancer, etc.

A pro-business bias in environmental law at Frontiers?, 3 Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 131-132 (2005).​
Comparing the Relative Effects of Nest Predation and Brood Parasitism on Seasonal Fecundity in Passerine Birds, Austin Cowbird Symposium​ (U. Texas Press 2000).
​With J. A. Grzybowski, Cowbirds: Villains or Scapegoats?, 31 Birding 448 (1999). ​
With J. J. Bull, Is Science Logical?, 42 BioScience 293 (1992).​
The Habitat Requirements of the Black-Capped Vireo and Golden-Cheeked Warbler Populations Near Austin, Texas (City of Austin, Dep't. of Envtl. Protection 1990).​


Fowler, N. L., and C. M. Pease. 2013. Temporal variation in density dependence in an herbaceous community. Pages 123-139 In Temporal Dynamics and Ecological Process. C. K. Kelly, M.G. Bowler and G.A. Fox, eds. Cambridge University Press.

​With N. L. Fowler, Temporal Variation in the Carrying Capacity of a Perennial Grass Population. 175 The American Naturalist 504-512 (2010).​
​With N. L. Fowler and R. D. Overath, Detection of Density Dependence Requires Density Manipulations and Calculation of λ, 87 Ecology 655–664 (2006).​
​With J. A. Grzybowski, Renesting determines seasonal fecundity in songbirds: What do we know? What should we assume?, 122 Auk 280-291 (2005).​
​With J. A. Grzybowski, A Model of the Dynamics of Cowbirds and their Host Communities, 116 Auk 209 (1999).​
​With D. J. Mattson, Demography of the Yellowstone Grizzly Bears, 80 Ecology 957–975 (1999).​
​With J. L. Larimer et al., Consistency of Interneuronal Group Formation in Response to Simulation of Identified Cells, 182 J. Comp. Physiology A: Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology 509 (1998).​
With N. L. Fowler, A Systematic Approach to Some Aspects of Conservation Biology, 78 Ecology 1321–1329 (1997). ​
​With D. J. Mattson et al., Science and Management of Yellowstone Grizzly Bears, 10 Conservation Biology 1013 (1996).​
​With J. J. Bull, Why Is the Polymerase Chain Reaction Resistant to In Vitro Evolution?, 41 J. Molecular Evolution 1160 (1995).​​
Assessing the Consequences of Brood Parasitism and Nest Predation on Seasonal Fecundity in Passerine Birds, Auk 112/2:343-363 (1995). ​

On the Declining Extinction and Origination Rates of Fossil Taxa, 18 Paleobiology 89 (1992).

​With M. J. Ryan et al., A Genetic Polymorphism in the Swordtail Xiphophorus Nigrensis: Testing the Prediction of Equal Fitness, 139 Am. Naturalist 21 (1992).​
​With J. Grzybowski, Protecting Biodiversity in Texas, 5 Conservation Biology 7 (1991).​
​With S. W. Taber, Paramyxovuus Phylogeny: Tissue Tropism Evolves Slower than Host Specificity, 44 Evolution 435 (1990). ​
Is Evolutionary Taxonomy Science?, 39 Systematic Zoology 301 (1990).​
​With J. L. Larimer, Unexpected Divergence among Identified Interneurons in Different Abdominal Segments of the Crayfish, Procambarus Clarkii, 25 J. Experimental Zoology 20 (1990). ​
​With J. J. Bull, Combinatorics and Variety of Mating-Type Systems, 43 Evolution 667 (1989).​
​With R. Lande et al., A Model of Population Growth, Dispersal and Evolution in a Changing Environment, 70 Ecology 1657 (1989).​
Biases in the Per-taxon Origination and Extinction Rates of Fossil Taxa, 130 J. Theoretical Biology 9 (1988).​
​With J. J. Bull, Estimating Relative Parental Investment in Sons Versus Daughters, 1 J. Evolutionary Biology 305 (1988).​
On Comparing the Geologic Durations of Easily Versus Poorly Fossilized Taxa, 133 J. Theoretical Biology 255 (1988).​
Biases in the Total Extinction Rates of Fossil Taxa, 130 J. Theoretical Biology 1 (1988). ​
Models of Evolution, 38 Bioscience 352 (1988).​
With J. L. Larimer, A Quantitative Study of Command Elements for Abdominal Positioning Behavior in the Crayfish, Procambarus Clarkii, 247 J. Experimental Zoology 45 (1988).​
Biases in the Survivorship Curves of Fossil Taxa, 130 J. Theoretical Biology 31 (1988).​
​With J. J. Bull, A Critique of Methods for Measuring Life History Trade-Offs, 1 J. Evolutionary Biology 293 (1988).​
An Evolutionary Epidemiological Mechanism, with Applications to Type A Influenza, 31 Theoretical Population Biology 422 (1987).​
Lyellian Curves and Mean Taxonomic Durations, 13 Paleobiology 484 (1987).​
Biases in the Durations and Diversities of Fossil Taxa, 11 Paleobiology 272 (1985). ​
A Coevolutionary Isomorphism Applied to Laboratory Studies of Competition, 39 Evolution 444 (1985).​
On the Evolutionary Reversal of Competitive Dominance, 38 Evolution 1099 (1984).​


​With J. A. Grzybowski, "Comparing the Relative Effects of Nest Predation and Brood Parasitism on Seasonal Fecundity in Passerine Birds," Ecology and Management of Cowbirds and Their Hosts: Studies in the Conservation of North American Passerine Birds 145 J. N. Smith et al., eds. 2000).​
​With D. J. Mattson et al., "Designing and managing protected areas for grizzly bears: How much is enough?," in National Parks and Protected Areas: Their Role in Environmental Protection 133 (R. G. Wright ed., Blackwell Science 1996).​
​With R. Lande, "Population Viability Analysis," in The Encyclopedia of Environmental Biology 203 (Acad. Press 1995).​


​With J. J. Bull, Biology for Business, Law and Liberal Arts (1998).​