Hillary Young

Associate Professor
(805) 893-4681
1234 Noble Hall


Hillary Young is a community ecologist in the department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology at UC Santa Barbara. Dr. Young received a B.A. degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University. She then received an M.A. in Environmental Management at Yale University where she focused on applied forest management questions. Her PhD in Biology at Stanford University examined cascading effects of changes in plant communities on whole ecosystem and community structure. As a postdoctoral researcher jointly affiliated at Smithsonian Institution and Harvard University she examined the impacts of anthropogenic disturbance on mammal communities and ultimately, on zoonotic diseases.


The goal of research in the Young lab is to understand how and when anthropogenic disturbances are likely to drive cascading changes in whole community structure and function. Much of our current work is focused on understanding the impacts such shifts have upon human and wildlife health. While we explore these questions using a broad range of tools (including stable isotopes, biogeochemistry, animal tracking, museum collections, and macroecological comparative approaches) our work is fundamentally driven by field observations and experimental manipulations. Please see the Young lab website for more information.

Selected Publications

  • HS Young, DJ McCauley, KM Helgen, JR Goheen, EO Castillo, TM Palmer, RM Pringle, TP Young, R Dirzo. 2013. Effects of mammalian herbivore declines on plant communities: Observations and experiments in an African savanna. J. Ecology.
  • HS Young, R Griffin, CL Wood, CL Nunn. 2013. Does habitat disturbance increase infectious disease risk for primates? Ecology Letters. 16(5): 656-663. doi: 10.1111/ele.12094.
  • HS Young, DJ McCauley, RB Dunbar, MS Hutson, A Miller-ter Kuile, and R Dirzo. 2013. The roles of productivity and ecosystem size in determining food-chain length in tropical terrestrial ecosystems. Ecology. 94: 692-701.
  • HS Young, DJ McCauley, R Guevara, and R Dirzo. 2013. Density-dependent seed and seedling predation effects on plant diversity depend on scale. Oecologia. doi:10.1007/s00442-012-2542-2.
  • DJ McCauley, E Power, HS Young, A McInturff, RB Dunbar, D Bird, W Durham and F Micheli. 2013. Conservation at the edges of the world. Biological Conservation. 165, 139-145.
  • JR Goheen, TM Palmer, GK Charles, SN Kinyua, JE Maclean, HS Young, and RM Pringle. 2013. Piecewise disassembly of a large-herbivore community across a rainfall gradient: the UHURU experiment. PLoS ONE. 8(2):e55192.
  • HS Young. 2012. Sense, if not sensibility (book review). Science. 337: 913.
  • AA Briggs, HS Young, R Fischer, S Hathaway, DJ McCauley, and R Dirzo. 2012. Effects of spatial subsidies and habitat structure on abundance and ecology of two congeneric gecko species. PLoS ONE. e41364
  • DJ McCauley, PA DeSalles, HS Young, RB Dunbar, R Dirzo, MM Mills, and F Micheli. 2012, From wing to wing: the persistence of long ecological interaction chains in less-disturbed ecosytems. Nature Scientific Reports. doi: 10.1038/srep00409
  • DJ McCauley, K. McLean, HS Young, J Bauer, and F Micheli. 2012. Evaluating the performance of methods for estimating the abundance of rapidly declining coastal shark populations. Ecological Applications. 22: 385-392.
  • DJ McCauley, HS Young, RB Dunbar, and F Micheli. 2012. Assessing the role of large predators in ecosystems. Ecological Applications. 22: 1711-1717.
  • DJ McCauley, E Hoffman, HS Young, and F Micheli. 2012. Night shift: expansion of temporal niche use following reductions in predator density. PLoS ONE. 7: e38871. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0038871
  • HS Young, DJ McCauley, and R Dirzo. 2011. Differential responses to guano fertilization among tropical tree species with varying functional traits. American Journal of Botany. 98: 1-10.
  • HS Young, DJ McCauley, R Dunbar, and R Dirzo. 2010. Plants cause ecosystem nutrient depletion via the interruption of bird derived spatial subsidies. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 107: 2072-2077.
  • HS Young, SA Shaffer, DJ McCauley, R Dirzo, and BA Block. 2010. Resource partitioning by species but not sex in sympatric boobies in the Central Pacific Ocean. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 403: 291-301.
  • HS Young, TK Raab, DJ McCauley, AA Briggs, and R Dirzo. 2010. The coconut palm, Cocos nucifera, impacts forest composition and soil characteristics at Palmyra Atoll, Central Pacific Ocean. Journal of Vegetation Science. 21: 1058-1068
  • HS Young, DJ McCauley, R Dirzo, RB Dunbar, SA Shaffer. 2010. Niche partitioning among and within sympatric tropical seabirds revealed by stable isotope analysis. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 416: 485-494.
  • DJ McCauley, F Micheli, HS Young, DP Tittensor, DR Brumbaugh, EMP Madin, KE Holmes, JE Smith, H Lotze, P de Salles, SN Arnold, and B Worm. 2010. Acute effects of loss of large fish from a near-pristine coral reef. Marine Biology. 12: 2739-2750.
  • DJ McCauley, Y Papastimoutou, and HS Young. 2010. An observation of mating in free ranging blacktip reef sharks, Carcharinus melanopteris. Pacific Science. 64: 349-352.