Paul R. Ehrlich received his Ph.D. from the University of Kansas. Co-founder with Peter H. Raven of the field of coevolution, he has pursued long-term studies of the structure, dynamics, and genetics of natural butterfly populations. He has also been a pioneer in alerting the public to the problems of overpopulation, and in raising issues of population, resources, and the environment as matters of public policy. Professor Ehrlich's research group covers several areas. It continues to study the dynamics and genetics of natural populations of checkerspot butterflies (Euphydryas). This research has applications to such problems as the control of insect pests and optimum designs for nature reserves.
A central focus of his group is investigating ways that human-disturbed landscapes can be made more hospitable to biodiversity. This work in "countryside biogeography" is under the direction of Professor Gretchen Daily, founder of the field, and Director of the CCB. The Ehrlich group's policy research on the population-resource-environment crisis takes a broad overview of the world situation, but also works intensively in such areas of immediate legislative interests as endangered species and the preservation of genetic resources.
A special interest of Ehrlich's is cultural evolution, especially with respect to environmental ethics, and he is deeply involved in the Millennium Assessment of Human Behavior (MAHB) which he co-founded with his wife Anne (policy coordinator of the CCB) and Professor Donald Kennedy. Professor Ehrlich is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.
Professor Ehrlich has received several honorary degrees, the John Muir Award of the Sierra Club, the Gold Medal Award of the World Wildlife Fund International, a MacArthur Prize Fellowship, the Crafoord Prize of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (given in lieu of a Nobel Prize in areas where the Nobel is not given), in 1993 the Volvo Environmental Prize, in 1994 the United Nations' Sasakawa Environment Prize, in 1995 the Heinz Award for the Environment, in 1998 the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement and the Dr. A. H. Heineken Prize for Environmental Sciences, in 1999 the Blue Planet Prize, in 2001 the Eminent Ecologist Award of the Ecological Society of America and the Distinguished Scientist Award of the American Institute of Biological Sciences, and in 2009 the Margalef Prize in Ecology and Environmental Sciences. Members of Professor Ehrlich's research group have gone on to join the faculties of Princeton, Brown, and the Universities of California, Nevada, Texas, and Florida.