January 11, 2018

LisaDavenportJohnTerborgh jan2018


Two notable scientists with long careers in environmental science, wildlife ecology, and tropical studies will give talks at the first session of the 2018 Cedar Key Library Speakers’ Series.  Their presentations will be given on Thursday, January 18, at 5 p.m. in the upstairs meeting room at the library.


Dr. John Terborgh, James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of Environmental Science,  Duke University, and a Courtesy Research Scientist at the Florida Museum of Natural History and the Department of Biology and University of Florida, Gainesville 

Nature functions as a balance of countervailing processes stabilized by feedbacks. Human impacts on nature have almost everywhere interrupted these processes with adverse consequences we are still discovering. Conservation biologists are therefore advocating a response called “rewilding,” the essence of which is, as Aldo Leopold admonished us, putting nature back together by restoring all its parts. Heading the list of missing parts are our top predators: wolves, mountain lions (panthers in Florida) and grizzly bears. All of these animals, for understandable reasons, are the subjects of vitriolic controversy, a fact that greatly complicates the goal of rewilding. Nevertheless, rewilding is not just a pipe dream. It can be accomplished in suitable areas, but with some caveats we can discuss as time permits.

Dr. Terborgh is the James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of Environmental Science at Duke University, and since retirement, has held the position of Courtesy Research Scientist at the Florida Museum of Natural History and the Department of Biology and University of Florida, Gainesville.  He is a member of the National Academy of Science, and for the past thirty-five years, he has been actively involved in tropical ecology and conservation issues.

An authority on avian and mammalian ecology in neotropical forests, Dr. Terborgh has published numerous articles and books on conservation themes. Since 1973 he has operated a field station in Peru's Manu National Park where he has overseen the research of more than 100 investigators. Dr. Terborgh earlier served on the faculties of the University of Maryland and Princeton University. In June 1992 he was awarded a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship in recognition of his distinguished work in tropical ecology, and in April 1996 he was awarded the National Academy of Science Daniel Giraud Elliot medal for his research and for his book Diversity and the Tropical Rainforest. He has served on several boards and advisory committees related to conservation, including the Wildlands Project, Cultural Survival, The Nature Conservancy, The World Wildlife Fund and both the Primate and Ecology Specialist Groups of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.


Dr. Lisa C. Davenport, Courtesy Research Scientist, Florida Museum of Natural History and Department of Biology, University of Florida

Amazonia is a world of water, dominated by a complex flood-pulse system and  highly diverse aquatic systems and fisheries.  Numerous aquatic carnivores thrive in Amazonia, including the Giant Otter, Pteronura brasiliensis.  Giant otters were nearly hunted to extinction by the 1970’s for their fur, but are making a slow comeback in areas where they are undisturbed.  Lisa studied giant otters and oxbow lake ecology in Manu National Park, in the Peruvian lowlands, and will discuss some of her findings about their ecology, the ecology of oxbow lakes where they live, and findings about other aquatic species such as migratory fishes and birds that depend on the aquatic ecosystem

Dr. Davenport is a tropical biologist who specializes in animal behavior, ecology and conservation.  Before joining her now-husband, Dr. Terborgh at the Duke University Center for Tropical Conservation in 1997, she worked at a number of scientific and conservation organizations including NASA, the World Bank, and several D.C.-based conservation NGOs.   Her research has included work on park conservation and management, ecology of threatened wildlife (including the Giant Otter in Peru), and migration studies of tropical waterbirds using satellite telemetry.  Lisa and John live in Cedar Key, but also consider parts of Australia and Peru as “home.”