CCU science faculty members co-author new book about the world’s top vertebrate predators

May 17, 2023
CCU science faculty members have co-authored a new book titled, “Tooth and Claw: Top Predators of the World.”

Robert M. Johnson III, Daniel C. Abel, and Sharon L. Gilman, faculty members in the Coastal Carolina University Gupta College of Science, have co-authored a new book titled, “Tooth and Claw: Top Predators of the World.” Published earlier this month by Princeton University Press (PUP), the book examines predators ranging from big cats and wild dogs to sharks, reptiles, and killer whales. The publication was illustrated by Elise Pullen, a former CCU graduate student.

According to a PUP overview, the book covers apex and other top predators in each major vertebrate family, discussing where and how they live, how they are faring in the modern world, and why they matter. Along the way, the authors share informative and entertaining anecdotes from their decades in the field learning about predators and reveal hard truths about the role humans continue to play in their fate.

“I am really excited about this book, not only for the opportunity it gave me to work with such creative, knowledgeable, and talented co-authors and illustrator, but also because the book fills a niche as a highly readable, thorough, beautiful tribute to these wonderful beasts,” said Abel.

Johnson, the book’s senior author, is a teaching associate in the biology department at CCU. He is a wildlife specialist and conservationist. For nearly 30 years, Johnson has worked hands-on with apex predators and endangered species both in captive environments and native habitats. He has worked with film crews from Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, National Geographic, Weather Channel, Rolling Stone, NBC, CBS, and more. Johnson earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from CCU in 1998 and a master’s degree and Ph.D. in psychology from California Coast University.

Abel joined the Coastal faculty in 1994. His research focuses on the physiology and ecology of sharks and rays. He has been an award-winning environmental columnist and was the founding director of CCU’s Sustainability Initiative from 2006-2012. Abel is the author of several books, including “Shark Biology and Conservation” and the forthcoming “The Lives of Sharks.” He earned a master’s degree in marine biology from the College of Charleston and a Ph.D. in marine biology from the University of California San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Gilman retired earlier this month from CCU, where she holds the title of distinguished professor emeritus. She had served as a faculty member in the Gupta College of Science since 1994. She was chair of the biology department from 2007-2010 and taught evolution, vertebrate zoology, and animal behavior. She also taught introductory courses and labs for both science majors and non-science majors. Gilman earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from McDaniel College in Maryland, and a Ph.D. in biological oceanography from the University of Rhode Island.

Pullen, who earned a master’s degree in Coastal Marine and Wetland Studies from CCU in 2019, is a freelance scientific illustrator. She also serves as an adjunct instructor of environmental biology at ECPI University, a private university with locations in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Texas, and online. Pullen earned a bachelor’s degree in marine biology and environmental studies from Florida Southern University.