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Biographical entry Keast, James Allen (Allen) (1922 - 2009)

15 November 1922
Turramurra, New South Wales, Australia
8 March 2009
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


Allen Keast was an ornithologist who, having started by studying the taxonomy and systematics of birds, extended his research into the physiology, biogeography and ecology of Australian birds, and further to the ecology of fish and mammal communities. He was the first to examine the speciation of the Australian avifauna across the whole continent and to point to the effect on habitat fragmentation on bird ecology. Even though he moved to Canada in 1960, Keast continued to work on Australian birds and present Australian bird ecology to an international audience. Among his many publications were the highly influential Bird speciation on the Australian continent (1961) and Ecological biogeography of Australia (1981). Keast played a major role in public education about wildlife issues by writing popular articles and lecturing, and initiated the first natural history series on Australian television from 1958 to 1960. He also made a recording, Australian bird songs (1964) with Carl Weismann. His popular books included Birds of eucalypt forests and woodlands: ecology, conservation, management (1985) and the translation from German of Land and Wildlife of Australia (1975).



c. 1941 - 1945
Career position - Served with the Australian Army in New Guinea and New Britain
c. 1948 - 1950
Career position - Cadet (part-time), Australian Museum
Education - BSc (hons), University of Sydney
1950 - 1955
Career position - Assistant Curator of Birds, Australian Museum
Education - MSc, University of Sydney
Education - MA, Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
Education - PhD, Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
1955 - 1960
Career position - Curator of Birds, Reptiles and Amphibians, Australian Museum
1960 - 1962
Career position - Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
1960 - 1997
Award - Fellow, Royal Australasian Ornithologists' Union
1963 - 1965
Career position - Associate Professor, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
Award - Fellow, American Ornithologists Union
1965 - 1992
Career position - Professor, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
1978 - 1986
Career position - Member, International Ornithological Committee
1992 -
Career position - Emeritus Professor, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
1993 - ?
Career position - Distinguished Researcher, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
Award - D. L. Serventy Medal, Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union
1997 - 2009
Award - Fellow, Birds Australia

Related Awards

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Published resources

Journal Articles

  • Boles, Walter E. and Recher, Harry F., 'Obituary: James Allen Keast 15 November 1922 - 8 March 2009', Emu, 109 (2009), 272-4. Details
  • Vuilleumier, Fran├žois, 'In memoriam: James Allen Keast, 1922 - 2009', The auk, 127 (4) (2010), 952-4. Details
  • Woinarski, John, 'D. L. Serventy Medal 1995: citation James Allen Keast', Emu, 95 (1995), 301. Details

Newspaper Articles

  • Veitch, Harriet, 'Nature-loving scientist with a passion for birds', Sydney Morning Herald (2009). Details


See also

  • Davis, William E., Boles, Walter E., and Recher, Harry F. eds, Contributions to the history of Australasian ornithology, volume III (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Nuttall Ornithological Club, 2017), 613 pp. Details
  • Price, J. R., 'Alexander Thomas Dick 1911-1982', Historical Records of Australian Science, 6 (3) (1986), 393-397. Details
  • Robin, Libby, The Flight of the Emu: a Hundred Years of Australian Ornithology 1901-2001 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2001), 492 pp. Details

Rosanne Walker and Helen Cohn