Some Biogeographers, Evolutionists and Ecologists:
Murphy, Robert Cushman (United States
If one wishes to acknowledge the record of his involvements,
Robert C. Murphy was truly one of the twentieth century's leading ornithologists.
Most of his professional life was spent at the American Museum of Natural
History, through which he visited all parts of the world to conduct research
or attend numerous international conferences, built up an unsurpassed
collection of bird specimens, and greatly improved displays. Murphy was
best known for his studies on the natural history and biogeography of
marine birds; his most celebrated work,
Oceanic Birds of South America, is a classic
title. Murphy published some twelve books and six hundred papers over
his career; many of these writings concerned conservation subjects. He
received dozens of awards and notices worldwide, and was an officer of
one type or another in hardly a smaller number of organizations and institutions.
Before Murphy's time the biogeography of marine birds had not been well
understood (many were simply viewed as vagrant populations), and his studies
shed much new light in this direction.
--born in Brooklyn, New York, on 29 April 1887.
--1911: Ph.B., Brown University
--1911-1917: curator of mammals and birds, Brooklyn Institute of Arts
--1912-1913: accompanies whaler to South Atlantic Ocean; stays on South
Georgia Island for several months
--1915: expedition to Baja California
--1917-1920: head of the department of natural science, Brooklyn Institute
of Arts and Sciences
--1918: A.M., Columbia University
--1919-1920: expedition to Peruvian coast and islands
--1921-1926: associate curator of birds, American Museum of Natural History
--1924-1925: leads expedition to Peru and Ecuador
--1924: delegate to the third Pan-American Scientific Congress
--1925: publishes his Bird Islands of Peru
--1926-1942: curator of oceanic birds, American Museum of Natural
--1936: publishes his Oceanic
Birds of South America, in two volumes
--1937: receives the William Brewster gold medal of the American Ornithologist's
--1938: receives the bronze medal of the John Burroughs Society
--1941: honorary D.Sc., Brown University
--1942-1949: chairman, department of birds, American Museum of Natural
--1943: receives the Elliot medal of the National Academy of Sciences
--1947: publishes his Logbook for Grace; Whaling Brig Daisy, 1912-1913
--1948-1950: president, American Ornithologists' Union
--1949-1955: Lamont curator of birds, American Museum of Natural History
--1953: publishes his Land Birds of America, with D. Amadon
--dies at Stony Brook, Long Island, on 20 March 1973.
Vol. 91(1) (1974): 1-9.
--Biographical Dictionary of American and Canadian Naturalists and
--American National Biography, Vol. 16 (1999).
--National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. F (1942).
--New York Times No. 42060 (21 March 1973): 48.
--Ambassador to the Penguins: A Naturalist's Year Aboard a Yankee
Copyright 2005 by Charles H. Smith. All rights
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