Paul Robert Needham, Zöology: Berkeley


Paul Robert Needham came to the University of California in 1949 to initiate teaching and research in an area of science new to the Berkeley campus, namely, ichthyology and fisheries management. By the time of his death in 1964, Professor Needham had established this field of inquiry as an important activity in the Department of Zoology.

Born January 14, 1902, in Lake Forest, Illinois, Paul Needham grew up in an academic atmosphere under the tutelage of his father, Professor James G. Needham, one of the most respected and revered biologists on the faculty of Cornell University. The senior Needham was primarily interested in the insects of streams and it was natural for Paul to gravitate toward the study of aquatic biology. All of his university degrees were taken at Cornell--a B.S. in Entomology in 1924, M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Limnology in 1926 and 1928, respectively. For two years (1927-1929) Paul Needham served as Instructor in Limnology at Cornell, followed by another two-year Instructorship in Biology at the University of Rochester (1929-1931). Then began a period of government service as an Aquatic Biologist with the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries, 1931-1940, stationed at Stanford University, and a subsequent period of tenure with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1940-1944, stationed at Convict Creek Field Station in Owens Valley. In 1944, Dr. Needham became Director of Fisheries with the Oregon State Game Commission, in which capacity he served until accepting the academic appointment as Professor of Zoology on the Berkeley campus.


In addition to teaching courses in ichthyology and fisheries management in the Department of Zoology, Paul Needham devoted much of his energy to establishing and then expanding the Sagehen Creek Field Station, a university facility situated near Truckee and designed particularly as a base for field studies of trout populations in a typical Sierra stream. With a modest budget and incredible ingenuity and persistence, Professor Needham pieced together a highly functional research and teaching field station consisting at the time of his death of nine buildings housing personnel, research laboratories, teaching and study collections, and special facilities such as a small hatchery and an underwater tank for observing fish in their natural environment. Substantial support for this work was obtained from the Max C. Fleischmann Foundation of Reno, Nevada. Although fisheries studies were emphasized at Sagehen Creek Field Station, various other investigations by graduate students and staff were based there, yielding published reports on a variety of biological problems. Each summer the station has served as a field teaching facility for university classes in wildlife and fisheries biology, entomology, and botany. The Sagehen Creek Field Station is today an important adjunct of the university; its existence is attributable in major part to Paul Needham's foresight and dedication.

Most of Paul Needham's research concerned the salmonid fishes, especially trout. The extended study of the trout population in Sagehen Creek demonstrated over a ten-year period that the fishery supported a high angling yield without recourse to artificial stocking. His 101 publications touched on many aspects of trout ecology, behavior, taxonomy, and conservation. During periods of leave from the University, he traveled widely in Europe and North America, studying trout in various habitats and ecologic situations. At the time of his death, he had planned a trip to investigate the introduced trout populations of Australia and New Zealand. As a world

authority on this important group of game fishes, Dr. Needham was called on to perform many public and professional services. He served on many boards, commissions and committees, and was active in a number of professional societies including the Wildlife Society, of which he was elected president in 1942. But his students and associates probably remember him best as he went happily about the tasks of studying trout in Sagehen Creek, pursuing the line of inquiry that for so long dominated his interests.

Dr. Needham is survived by his widow, the former Dorothy Shorb, whom he married in 1926, and two children--William Shorb Needham and Barbara Needham Dillard.

A. Starker Leopold E. Gorton Linsley Robert L. Usinger