RIEL adjunct Dr John Woinarski is the 2011 Australian Natural History Medallist, and a most worthy recipient.
John has studied the fauna and flora of the Top End of the Northern Territory for almost 30 years. He has been an inspirational leader of research and survey teams and mentor of numerous research students.
He instituted and implemented the systematic survey of the vertebrate fauna of the region and documented the results in over 100 scientific papers. He is senior author of the seminal book The Nature of Northern Australia, reflecting a remarkable ability to see and understand the landscape as a whole as well as to understand the lives of the myriad species that occur there.
More than anyone else he recognised the biodiversity crisis that northern Australia is currently facing with the loss of small- and medium-sized mammals and seed-eating birds, investigated its causes and sought to ensure that the issue is not ignored.
The Medallion is awarded annually to one who has made a most meritorious contribution to the understanding of Australian natural history. Dr Woinarski accepted the award at a meeting of the Field Naturalists Club of Victoria early in November. He was nominated by the Darwin-based Northern Territory Field Naturalists Club.