Benjamin D. Best

Environmental Data Scientist
508 E Haley St, Santa Barbara, CA 93103


 Ph.D. Marine Science and Conservation, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University, 2016
Dissertation: Data to Decision in a Dynamic Ocean: Robust Species Distribution Models and Spatial Decision Frameworks link
 M.S. Environmental Sciences, Duke University, 2007
Thesis: Geospatial Modeling of Habitat and Connectivity
 B.S. Aquatic Biology, UC Santa Barbara, 1998
 B.A. Geography, UC Santa Barbara, 1998


Best BD, L Kilcher (2019) Submarine Cable Analysis for U.S. Marine Renewable Energy Development. Golden, CO: National Renewable Energy Laboratory. NREL/TP-5000-71125. link

Canonico G, PL Buttigieg, E Montes, CA Stepien, D Wright, ..., BD Best, ... BJ Murton (2019) Global Observational Needs and Resources for Marine Biodiversity. Frontiers in Marine Science. link

Best BD, PN Halpin (2019) Minimizing wildlife impacts for offshore wind energy development: Winning tradeoffs for birds in space and cetaceans in timePLoS ONE. link

Ilieva I,  L Jouvet, L Seidelin, BD Best, S Aldabet, R da Silva, D Amor A Ovando (2018) A Global Database of Intentionally Deployed Wrecks to Serve as Artificial ReefsData in Brief. link 

Muller-Karger FE, P Miloslavich, NJ Bax, S Simmons, MJ Costello, IS Pinto, G Canonico, W Turner, M Gill, E Montes, BD Best, J Pearlman, P Halpin, ..., Gary Geller (2018) Advancing Marine Biological Observations linking the Essential Ocean Variables (EOVs) and Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs) FrameworksFrontiers in Marine Science. link

Muller-Karger FE, E Hestir, C Ade, K Turpie, D Roberts, D Siegel, R Miller, D Humm, N Izenberg, M Keller, F Morgan, R Frouin, A Dekker, R Gardner, J Goodman, B Schaeffer, B Franz, N Pahlevan, AG Mannino, JA Concha, SG Ackleson, K Cavanaugh, A Romanou, M Tzortziou, E Boss, R Pavlick, D Schimel, A Freeman, CS Rousseaux, J Dunne, MC Long, E Klein, GA McKinley, R Letelier, M Roffer, J Goes, A Bracher, KR Arrigo, H Dierssen, X Zhang, F Davis, BD Best, R Guralnick, J Moisan, HM Sosik, M Kavanaugh, R Kudela, CB Mouw, A Barnard, S Palacios, C Roesler, E Drakou, W Appeltans (2018) Satellite sensor requirements for monitoring essential biodiversity variables of coastal ecosystems. Ecological Applications. link

Lowndes JS, BD BestC Scarborough, JC Afflerbach, MR Frazier, CC O'Hara, N Jiang, BS Halpern (2017) Our path to better science in less time using open data science tools. Nature Ecology & Evolution. link

Roberts JJ, BD BestL Mannocci, E Fujioka, PN Halpin, DL Palka, LP Garrison, KD Mullin, TVN Cole, CB Khan, WA McLellan, DA Pabst, GG Lockhart (2016) Habitat-based cetacean density models for the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. Scientific Reports. link

Halpern B, M Frazier, BD Best, C Longo and JSS Lowndes (2016) Chapter 7.8: Ocean Health Index for the world’s large marine ecosystems. In: IOC-UNESCO and UNEP. 2016. Large Marine Ecosystems: Status and Trends. United Nations Environment Program, Nairobi, pp. 239–249.

Lowndes, JSS, EJ Pacheco, BD Best, C Scarborough, C Longo, SK Katona, BS Halpern (2015) Best practices for assessing ocean health in multiple contexts using tailorable frameworksPeerJlink

Best BD, CH Fox, R Williams, PN Halpin, PC Paquet (2015) Updated marine mammal distribution and abundance estimates in coastal British ColumbiaJournal of Cetacean Research and Management. link

Halpern BS, CL Longo, JSS Lowndes, BD Best, M Frazie, SK Katona, … ER Selig (2015). Patterns and Emerging Trends in Global Ocean Health. PLoS ONE. link

Halpern BS, CL Longo, C Scarborough, D Hardy, BD Best, S Doney, S Katona, K McLeod, A Rosenberg, J Samhouri (2014) Assessing the health of the U.S. west coast with a regional-scale application of the Ocean Health IndexPLoS ONE. link

Fujioka E, CY Kot, BP Wallace, BD Best, J Moxley, J Cleary, B Donnelly, PN Halpin (2014) Data Integration for Conservation: Leveraging Multiple Data Types to Advance Ecological Assessments and Habitat Modeling for Marine Megavertebrates using OBIS-SEAMAPEcological Informatics. link

Elfes CT, CL Longo, BS Halpern, D Hardy, C Scarborough, BD Best, T Pinheiro, G Dutra (2014A Regional-Scale Ocean Health Index for BrazilPLoS ONE. link

Anadón JD, M del Mar Mancha-Cisneros, BD Best, LR Gerber (2013) Habitat-specific larval dispersal and marine connectivity: Implications for reserve design. Ecosphere. link

Selig ER, CL Longo, BS Halpern, BD Best, D Hardy, CT Elfes, C Scarborough, KM Kleisner, SK Katona (2013) Assessing global marine biodiversity status within a coupled socio-ecological perspectivePLoS Onelink

Halpern BS, C Longo, D Hardy, KL McLeod, JF Samhouri, SK Katona, K Kleisner, SE Lester, J O’Leary, M Ranelletti, AA Rosenberg, C Scarborough, ER Selig, BD Best, DR Brumbaugh, FS Chapin III, LB Crowder, KL Daly, SC Doney, C Elfes, MJ Fogarty, SD Gaines, K Jacobsen, LB Karrer, HM Leslie, E Neeley, D Pauly, S Polasky, B Ris, K St. Martin, GS Stone, UR Sumaila, D Zeller (2012) An index to assess the health and benefits of the global ocean. Nature. link

Best BD, PN Halpin, AJ Read, E Fujioka, CP Good, EA LaBrecque, RS Schick, JJ Roberts, LJ Hazen, SS Qian, DL Palka, LP Garrison, WA McLellan (2012) Online Cetacean Habitat Modeling System for the U.S. East Coast and Gulf of Mexico. Endangered Species Research. link

Schick RS, PN Halpin, AJ Read, DL Urban, BD Best, CP Good, JJ Roberts, EA LaBrecque, DL Palka, H Whitehead, WA McClellan, DA Pabst, C Dunn (2011) Community structure in pelagic marine mammals at large spatial scales. Marine Ecology Progress Series. link

Zydelis R, RL Lewison, SA Shaffer, JE Moore, AM Boustany, JJ Roberts, M Sims, DC Dunn, BD Best, Y Tremblay, MA Kappes, PN Halpin, DP Costa, LB Crowder (2011) Dynamic habitat models: a new perspective in analyzing fisheries bycatch. Ecology Letters. link

Swamy V, J Terborgh,KG Dexter, BD Best, P Alvarez, F Cornejo (2010) Are all seeds equal? Spatially explicit comparisons of seed fall and sapling recruitment in a tropical forest. Ecology Letters. link

Kot CY, E Fujioka, LJ Hazen LJ, BD Best, AJ Read, PN Halpin (2010) Spatio-temporal gap analysis of OBIS-SEAMAP project data: Assessment and way forward. PLoS ONE. link

Roberts JJ, BD Best, DC Dunn, EA Treml, PN Halpin (2010) Marine Geospatial Ecology Tools: an integrated framework for ecological geoprocessing with ArcGIS, Python, R, MATLAB, and C++. Ecosystem Modeling & Software. link

Lookingbill T,  MT Trice, S Carter, G Sanders G, BD Best, BJ Longstaff, JM Hawkey (2010) Program Design: Developing a Comprehensive Data Strategy. Integrating and Applying Science: A handbook for effective coastal ecosystem assessment, Chapter 11.  IAN press. link

Eléaume M, RJ Beaman, HJ Griffiths, BD Best, MK Riddle, V Wadley, SR Rintoul, LG Hemery, N Améziane (2010) Near bottom current direction inferred from comatulid crinoid feeding postures on the Terre Adélie and George V shelf, East Antarctica. Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography. link

Best BD, PN Halpin (2009) Predictive Marine Mammal Modeling for Queen Charlotte Basin, British Columbia. Technical Report for Raincoast Conservation Foundation. 120 p. link

Ardron J, D Dunn, C Corrigan, K Gjerde, PN Halpin, J Rice, EV Berghe, M Vierros, E Fujioka, BD Best, JR Roberts, et al (2009) Defining Ecologically or Biologically Significant Areas in the Open Oceans and Deep Seas: Analysis, Tools, Resources and Illustrations. link

Schick RS, PN Halpin, AJ Read, CK Slay, SD Kraus, BR Mate, MF Baumgartner, JJ Roberts, BD Best, CP Good, SR Loarie, JS Clark (2009) Striking the right balance in right whale conservation. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. link

Halpin PN, AJ Read, E Fujioka, BD Best, B Donnelly, LJ Hazen, C Kot, K Urian,  E LaBrecque, C Good, LB Crowder, KD Hyrenbach. (2009). OBIS-SEAMAP: The world data center for marine mammal, sea bird and sea turtle distributionsOceanography. link

Schick RS, SR Loarie, F Colchero, BD Best, A Boustany, DA Conde, PN Halpin, LN Joppa, CM McClellan, JS Clark (2008) Understanding movement data and movement processes: current and emerging directions. Ecology Letters. link

Best BD, PN Halpin, E Fujioka, AJ Read, SS Qian, LJ Hazen, RS Schick. (2007). Geospatial web services within a scientific workflow: Predicting marine mammal habitats in a dynamic environment. Ecological Informatics. link

Halpin PN, E Fujioka, MS Coyne, BD Best (2007) Marine Animal Data Applications. In: ArcMarine: GIS for a Blue Planet, Chapter 4. ESRI press. link

Halpin PN, AJ Read, BD Best, KD Hyrenbach KD, E Fujioka, MS Coyne, LB Crowder, SA Freeman, C Spoerri. (2006). OBIS-SEAMAP: developing a biogeographic research data commons for the ecological studies of marine mammals, seabirds, and sea turtles. Marine Ecology Progess Series. link


  • Environmental Data Scientist & Founder, EcoQuants LLC, Santa Barbara CA (7/2016 - present)
  • Lecturer, Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, UC Santa Barbara (1/2015 - 6/2016)
  • Senior Analyst for Ocean Health Index, Center for Marine Assessment and Planning, UC Santa Barbara, 8/2012-1/2015
  • Research Associate, Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab, Duke University, 8/2002 – 8/2008 
  • Computer & Network Technologist, Bren School of the Environment, UC Santa Barbara, 2/2000 – 8/2002
  • IT Consultant, European Human Rights Foundation, 9/1998 – 10/1999
  • Lab and Field Assistant, Marine Biogeography Lab, UC Santa Barbara, 9/1997 – 6/1998

Honors and Awards

  • NOPP Excellence in Partnering Award to MBON Sanctuaries, 2017 link
  • Special Achievement in GIS Award presented by Jack Dangermond at Esri International User Conference for Marine Geospatial Ecology Tools by Duke Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab, 2012
  • Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program Project of the Year in Sustainable Infrastructure 2008
  • Audrey Lynn Copeland Memorial Award for Excellence in Ecology Evolution and Marine Biology, 1998
  • UCSB President’s Undergraduate Research Fellowship, 1997 – 1998
  • NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates, 1997 – 1998
  • NSF Research Training Grant, 1997
  • Howard Hughes Medical Internship, 1996 – 1997

Teaching Experience

Professional Development


  • Society for Conservation Biology
  • Society for Conservation GIS
  • Society for Marine Mammalogy
  • Marine Technology Society
  • Sigma Xi