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.
2012 Serventy Medalist
Professor Richard Tennant Kingsford
Professor Richard Kingsford became a member of the RAOU in 1987. At the University of Sydney the previous year, he completed his Ph.D. on the reproductive biology and habitat use of the Maned Duck. Since then, Richard has published profusely and, backed by the credibility of his science, he has been a fearless advocate for conservation. Richard’s early professional life (1986–2004) was with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service where he was a Principal Research Scientist. Since 2005, he has been Professor of Environmental Science at the University of NSW where he established the Australian Wetlands and Rivers Centre.
Richard’s scientific publications, notes, book chapters, occasional papers, edited books etc, exceed 160 of which half are peer reviewed. This work began with papers on the biology and ecology of Australian waterbirds, including the effects of hunting on ducks. By the late 1990s, while retaining a strong focus on birds, his work was principally concerned with broadscale conservation of wetlands. Highlights of this work include ‘Aerial surveys as a measure of river and landscape and floodplain health’ published in Freshwater Biology (1999), leading author of ‘Imposed hydrological stability on lakes in arid Australia and effect on waterbirds’ published in Ecology (2004) and editing the book Ecology of Desert Rivers (2006). In the last decade, publications have resulted from all of Richard’s major research and conservation work: Ecology and management of the Paroo Wetlands and the Lake Eyre Basin, environmental flows and the ‘River Bank’ program, Biodiversity and threatened species in the Austral-Pacific Region, National waterbird survey of Australia, the effects of levee banks on river flows, effects of altered flow regimes on waterbird and shorebird populations and breeding, adaptive management in the Macquarie Marshes, Managing ecosystem change and biodiversity in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, river flows to Lower Lakes and the Coorong, WISE (Water Information Systems for the Environment), ecology of desert rivers and the aerial surveys of waterbirds in eastern Australia (annually since 1983).
Richard has a strong involvement with the promotion and reviewing of publications. He has published extensively with his many honours and post-graduate students and he currently serves on the editorial boards of three international journals: Rivers Research and Applications, Wildlife Research and Emu – Austral Ornithology.
Over more than two decades, Richard has served on dozens of conservation committees from local, for instance as the Independent Scientific Member of the Cooper Creek Catchment Committee since 1998, to international, for instance as a Governor of WWF (2006–09). Richard has developed a strong media presence and few Australians, policy-makers and politicians, will not have been influenced by the force of the evidence that he recites and his passion for wetland conservation.
Professor Richard Kingsford is a highly effective proponent for the conservation of Australian waterbirds and their habitats with an outstanding record of publication in ornithology in Australia and is a laudable recipient of the D. L. Serventy Medal.
Jack Baker, University of Wollongong and John Porter, University of New South Wales