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Lee Kats Faculty Profile

Lee Kats

Interim Dean of Seaver College
Professor of Biology
Frank R. Seaver Chair of Natural Science
Natural Science Division, Seaver College
Malibu, TAC 419


Lee Kats has served Pepperdine for more than 30 years. He is currently the interim dean of Seaver College, having a long history of service within the University’s administration. Kats was the vice provost from 2011 to 2023, and from 2001 until 2011 he served as the associate dean of research. As vice provost, he worked closely with Pepperdine's Information Technology Department; Office of Research, Grants, and Foundation Relations, and with the Office of Institutional Effectiveness. Kats also serves as academic director of the Center for Faith and the Common Good, and is involved in the University's strategic planning process and implementation.

Kats’ current research is focused on the ecology and conservation biology of stream animals. This includes examining possible causes of amphibian decline. He and his students focus their studies on the effects of ultraviolet radiation, wildfire, and the introduction of exotic species. He has a significant background in the areas of animal behavior, conservation, animal ecology, tropical biology, and stream ecology. Kats conducts most of his research in the Santa Monica Mountains of Southern California; however, he also leads classes and conducts research in Costa Rica and Argentina.

He has published numerous research articles on amphibian ecology and conservation ecology, served on the board of editors for the scientific journal Conservation Biology since 1996, and the editorial board of Hydrobiologia, the European scientific journal on freshwater biology, since 2000.


  • BA, Biology, Calvin College, 1984
  • PhD, Biology, University of Kentucky, 1989



Publications (*undergraduate):

  • Bucciarelli, G.M., F. Alsalek*, L.B. Kats, D.B. Green and H.B. Shaffer. 2022. Toxic relationships and arms-race coevolution revisited. Annual Review of Animal Biosciences 10: 63-80.
  • Clark, M. A.*, Ota, W. M.*, Smith, S. J.*, Muramoto, B. K.*, Ngo, S.*, Chan, G. E.*, Kenyon, M. A.*, Sturtevant, M. C.*, Diamond, M. G.*, Bucciarelli, G. M., & Kats, L. B. 2022. A natural experiment identifies an impending ecological trap for a neotropical amphibian in response to extreme weather events. Ecology and Evolution, 12, e8848 https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.8848.
  • Bucciarelli, G.M., M. Lechner*, A. Fontes*, L.B. Kats and H.B. Shaffer. 2021. From poison to promise: the evolution of tetrodotoxin and its potential as a therapeutic. Toxins 13:517 https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins13080517.
  • Kovalenko, K.E., F.M. Pelicice, L.B. Kats, J. Kotta and S.M. Thomaz. 2021. Aquatic invasive species: introduction to the special issue and dynamics of public interest. Hydrobiologia 848:1939-1953.
  • Bucciarelli, G.M., M.A. Clark*, K.S. Delaney, S.P.D. Riley, H.B. Shaffer, R.N. Fisher, R.L. Honeycutt and L.B. Kats. 2020. Amphibian responses in the aftermath of extreme climate events. Scientific Reports 10:3409. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-60122-2.
  • Bucciarelli, G.M., D Suh*, A. Davis*, D. Roberts, D. Sharpton, H.B. Shaffer, R.N. Fisher and L.B. Kats. 2019. Assessing effects of non-native crayfish on mosquito survival. Conservation Biology https://doi.org/10.1111/cobi.13198.
  • D.A Miller, E.H. Campbell Grant, E. Muths, S.M. Amburgey, M.J. Adams, M.B. Joseph, J. Hardin Waddle, P.T.J. Johnson, M.E. Ryan, B.R. Schmidt, D.L. Calhoun, C.L. Davis, R.N. Fisher, D.M. Green, B.R. Hossack, T.A.G. Rittenhouse, S.C. Walls, L.L. Bailey, S.S. Cruickshank, G.M. Fellers, T.A. Gorman, C.A. Haas, W. Hughson, D.S. Pilliod, S.J. Price, A.M. Ray, W.Sadinksi, D. Saenz, W.J. Barishivich, A.Brand, C.S. Brehme, R. Dagit, K.S. Delaney, B.M. Glorioso, L.B. Kats, P.M. Kleeman, C.A. Pearl, C.J. Rochester, S.P.D. Riley, M. Roth and B.H. Sigafus. 2018. Quantifying climate sensitivity and climate-driven change in North American amphibian communities. Nature Communications https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-018-06157-6.
  • Havel, J.E., S.M. Thomaz, L.B. Kats, K.E. Kovalenko and L.N. Santos. 2018. Invasive species II: Preface. Hydrobiologia https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10750-018-3635-7.
  • Ota*, W.M., B. Olsen*, G.M. Bucciarelli, and L.B. Kats. 2018. The effect of newt toxin on an invasive snail.  Hydrobiologia https://doi.org/10.1007/s10750-018-3568-1.
  • Velasco, M.A., I. Berkunsky, M.V. Simoy, S. Quiroga, G.M. Bucciarelli, L.B. Kats and F. P. Kacoliris. 2018. The rainbow trout is affecting the occupancy of native amphibians in Patagonia.  Hydrobiologia https://doi.org/10.1007/s10750-017-3450-6.

To learn more about Dr. Kats' current research with Pepperdine Students, visit the Behavioral Ecology Research Laboratory website at: https://seaver.pepperdine.edu/behavioral-ecology-research-lab


  • National Fish and Wildlife Foundation: 2022-2024. “Assessing the Impact of Invasive Crayfish Removal on Endangered Species in San Francisquito Creek (CA)”
  • Keck Foundation: 2011-2015. "Developing the Undergraduate Scholars"
  • Frank R. Seaver Chair in Natural Science 2000-present
  • National Park Service and U.S. Geological Survey: 2009. "Survey of Flora and Fauna of National Parks" (co-P.I.s-Lee Kats, Tom Vandergon, Rodney Honeycutt, Stephen Davis, Karen Martin)
  • Santa Monica Bay Restoration Project: 2003-2006. "Trancas Creek Restoration" (co-P.I.s- Lee Kats and the Mountains Restoration Trust)
  • National Science Foundation Grant: 2000-2002. REU: Undergraduate Research in Biology (co-P.I.s- Steven Davis, Lee Kats, Tom Vandergon and Karen Martin)


Areas of Expertise

  • Amphibian ecology
  • Conservation biology
  • Stream ecology
  • Tropical forest and stream ecology


  • Amphibian ecology
  • Conservation biology
  • Stream ecology
  • Tropical forest ecology


  • Tropical Forest Ecology
  • BIOL 109: Introduction to Animal Behavior
  • BIOL 311: Introduction to Ecology
  • BIOL 340: Natural History of Vertebrates
  • BIOL 360: Environmental Politics and Policy
  • MATH 317: Laboratory for Statistics and Experimental Design