Who We Are

Who We Are

Howard Shellhammer, Ph.D. (Adjunct Senior Associate)

Howard Shellhammer, Ph.D. (Adjunct Senior Associate)

Phone: 
408.458.3200
Email: 
Expertise: 
Wildlife Ecology
Location: 
San Francisco Bay Area

Howard Shellhammer is the primary authority on the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse (Reithrodontomys raviventris) and co-authored the first recovery plan for the species.  Howard has carried out work on the cytotaxonomy, ecology, and distribution of the mouse for over 40 years.  He has overseen more than 150 salt marsh harvest mouse projects and trained dozens of students and staff on the techniques for handling and identifying this species. His other major area of long-term research is the fire ecology of giant sequoias (Sequiadendron giganteum), a project that he has continued periodically since 1964.  He has also studied the biological effects of off-road vehicles and predator-prey relationships of large mammals in the Inner Coast Range of California.

Howard has served as an expert witness and consultant on numerous endangered species Section 7 consultations, and has participated in preparing more than 30 marsh restoration plans. Howard has provided technical oversight on 1) the effects of treated sewage from the San Jose Sewage Treatment Plant on South Bay fauna and flora; 2) sampling, restoration design, and restoration monitoring at the Concord Naval Weapons Station; 3) long-term sampling of the salt marsh harvest mice in the Suisun Marsh to predict the effects of water management on the mouse, and 4) similar long-term sampling to determine the effects of the Shell oil spill on the mouse in the Suisun Bay, to name but a few projects.  He was co-principal investigator in a major study developing management plans of Off-Highway Vehicle Parks for the California State Parks.

Howard and three other HTH scientists performed a ten-year long study of the fire ecology of giant sequoias in Kings Canyon National Park in the 1960s to 70s and shorter studies in the 1990s and 2000.  The study involved the first use of fire as a management tool in the National Park Service, the second such study in the nation.  Howard’s primary focus in the sequoias studies was the ecology, behavior, and the effect of giant sequoia regeneration on the Douglas tree squirrel, although he has addressed factors affecting giant sequoia growth and survival in recent papers. 

Howard was Professor of Biology and, for several decades, the Curator of Birds and Mammals in the Department of Biological Sciences at San Jose State University, where he taught courses in mammalogy, animal behavior, population genetics, and other courses in zoology and biology.  He has helped guide graduate student theses on the ecology of squirrels, wild pigs, mountain lion, elk, deer, yellowthroats, primates, and of course, the salt marsh harvest mouse.  He was co-principal investigator of longer-term study of predator-prey relationships of large mammals in the Inner Coast Range of California.  His early work on cytotaxonomy involved salt marsh and western harvest mice as well as kangaroo rats and pocket mice.

Shellhammer, H.S. 1989. Salt marsh harvest mice, urban development, and rising sea levels. Conservation Biology 3(1):59-65. 

Geissel, W., H.S. Shellhammer, & H.T. Harvey.  1988. Ecology of salt marsh harvest mice, Reithrodontomys raviventris, in a diked marsh.  Journal of Mammalogy 69(4):696-703.