The D.L. Serventy Medal may be awarded annually for outstanding published work on birds in the Australasian region. It has been awarded for the last 20 years and is the highest award offered to professional ornithologists by BirdLife Australia. For a complete list of Serventy medallists go to the downloads section below.
Dominic Louis Serventy (1904-1988)
Dom Serventy (pictured above middle) was born in Kalgoorlie in 1904, and died in Perth in 1988. He was educated at the Universities of Western Australia (BSc) and Cambridge (PhD 1933). Serventy was a lecturer in zoology at the University of Western Australia from 1934 to 1937, a research officer at the CSIRO Fisheries Division from 1937 to 1951 and officer-in-charge, at CSIRO Wildlife Survey Division, Perth, from 1951 to 1969. He was interested in all aspects of ornithology, from biogeography and speciation to breeding seasons and general biology, and had a long-term influence on conservation. He was President of the RAOU from 1947 to 1949, and a fellow from 1952. He won the Australian Natural History Medallion in 1956, was a member of the Western Australian Wildlife Authority 1943-74, editor of Western Australian Naturalist 1947-80, member of the Permanent Executive Committee of the International Ornithological Congress 1966-78, and fellow of the Western Australian Museum from 1974. With his brother Vincent and sister Lucy, he revived the Western Australian Naturalists' Club after World War Two. He produced extensive sets of bird distribution maps and wrote The Handbook of Australian Seabirds (1971) with Vincent Serventy and John Warham and Birds of Western Australia (five editions between 1948 and 1976) with H.M. Whittell.
Nominations & Assessment
Nominations for the medal should be sent to Prof Richard Holdaway, School of Biological Sciences, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch, New Zealand. Please send a one page citation, a copy of a recent curriculum vitae listing all publications and the names of two referees by February 28 of each year.
The Serventy Medal Committee is a subcommittee of the Research and Conservation Committee (RACC), which assesses nominations for the award and recommends medal winners for consideration by RACC. Currently, the chair of the committee is Prof Richard Holdaway.
2013 Serventy Medallist
Emeritus Professor Ron Wooller
With more than 40 years’ experience in the field of conservation biology and ecology, Ron Wooller stands at the forefront Australian ornithology, especially in Western Australia.
After gaining his tertiary education at the Universities of York and Durham, where he took the opportunity to study the breeding ecology of Kittiwakes, Ron became a lecturer at the University of London Colleges, but within a few years opportunities beckoned farther afield.
After emigrating to Australia in 1976 to take up the position of Lecturer in Biology at Murdoch University in Perth, the focus of his studies readily shifted from Kittiwakes to the Silver Gulls that breed on Carnac Island, a few kilometres offshore from Perth. This gradually led to an interest in other colonial-nesting coastal birds, including terns and noddies, and seabirds, especially the Short-tailed Shearwaters and Little Penguins which also breed on offshore islands.
However, despite this fascination with birds of the coasts and oceans, after settling in Western Australia he quickly became captivated by the unique forests and woodlands of the South West, and commenced examining the feeding ecology of their populations of small passerines, particularly honeyeaters, as well as the associated aspects of pollination of the characteristic vegetation of the region. (It also led to studies of similar aspects of the diminutive Honey Possum.)
After more than 40 years, his volume of work has culminated in a prodigious collection of refereed publications — 135 at last count — with most concerning Australian birds, including 20 published in The Emu. To illustrate the value of his publications, his top five seabird papers have amassed over 300 citations — a major achievement indeed. Not content with publications alone, however, Ron has delivered papers at dozens of international conferences throughout Australasia and around the world, many of them as an invited speaker. He also encourages others to publish their findings, regularly providing assistance by editing and reviewing their papers, imparting sage advice.
His two disparate streams of ornithological study — small woodland/forest birds and seabirds — have dominated Ron’s professional life, and this is reflected in most of the topics investigated by the numerous honours and postgraduate students whose studies he has supervised. Many of his protégés are now well-known and respected names in Australian ornithology in their own right. It is his infectious enthusiasm to inspire others that leads his peers in the fields of ornithology and conservation biology to hold Ron in such high esteem.
Ron’s record in ornithology speaks for itself — he is a most worthy recipient of the 2013 D. L. Serventy Medal.