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Biographical entry Calaby, John Henry (1922 - 1998)

19 October 1922
Creswick, Victoria, Australia
19 September 1998
Naturalist and Ornithologist


John Henry Calaby worked for the CSIRO Wildlife Survey Section (later Division of Wildlfe and Ecology) 1950-1987. He played a significant part in the 1972-1973 Alligator Rivers Region environmental fact-finding study and was largely responsible for the gazettal in 1976 of the Australian National Wildlife Collection.


Born Creswick, Victoria, 19 October 1922. Died Canberra, 19 September 1998. AO 1994. Educated Ballarat School of Mines (Diploma in Applied Chemistry 1942). Hon. DSc, Australian National University 1977. Technical Assistant, Explosives and Ammunition Research, Munitions Supply Laboratories 1942-45; Experimental Officer, CSIRO Division of Entomology 1945-50; Experimental Officer and Research Scientist, CSIRO Wildlife Survey Section 1950-72 (transferred to Perth 1952-56 to maximise rabbit control in the West), Senior Principal Research Scientist 1972-87, Assistant Chief, Division of Wildlife and Ecology 1985-87, Honorary Research Fellow from 1987. Wrote So Much that is New. Baldwin Spencer 1860-1929: a Biography (1985, co-author D.J. Mulvaney). Foundation Member, Australian Mammal Society 1958; Troughton Medal, Australian Mammal Society 1983; Fellow, Royal Zoological Society of NSW 1986; Honorary Member, Australian Mammal Society 1987; Honorary Member, American Society of Mammalogists 1993. Thirty species across the animal kingdom are named after him. Commemorated by the John Calaby Resources Centre, CSIRO Division of Wildlife and Ecology, 1998.

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Published resources


  • Frith, H. J. and Calaby, J. H., Kangaroos, F.W.Cheshire, Melbourne, 1969, 209 pp. Details
  • Mulvaney, D.J. and Calaby, J.H., So much that is new: Baldwin Spencer, 1860-1929, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1985, 492 pp. Details

Book Sections

Edited Books

  • Calaby, J. (ed.), The Hunter sketchbook: birds and flowers of New South Wales drawn on the spot in 1788, 89 and 90 by Captain John Hunter, National Library of Australia, Canberra, 1989, 251 pp. Details

Journal Articles

  • Calaby, J. H., 'Australian Mammals Since 1770', Australian Natural History, vol. 16, no. 8, 1970, pp. 241-288. Details
  • Calaby, J. H., 'Investigating the Interior', Australian Natural History, vol. 19, no. 2, 1977, pp. 42-45. Details
  • Taylor, J. Mary, 'Obituary: John H. Calaby 1922 - 1998', Journal of Mammalogy, vol. 80, no. 3, 1999, pp. 1038-47. Details
  • Tyndale-Biscoe, C. H., Calaby, J. H. and Davies, S. J. J. F., 'Harold James Frith 1921-1982', Historical Records of Australian Science, vol. 10, no. 3, 1995, pp. 247-263. Also available at Details

Online Resources

See also

  • Robin, Libby, The Flight of the Emu: a Hundred Years of Australian Ornithology 1901-2001, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 2001, 492 pp. Details
  • Upton, M. S., A Rich and Diverse Fauna: the history of the Australian National Insect Collection 1926 - 1991, CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne, 1997, 386 pp. Details

Rosanne Walker