Queensland Natural History Award 2017 – Dr Peter F. Woodall

The Queensland Natural History Award for 2017 was presented to Dr Peter F. Woodall by Mr James Hansen.

During his time at UQ, he was involved in both anatomical research (mainly concerned with wild animals) and ecological research (mainly on birds). This has resulted in a publication list of over 150 journal articles.

Peter Woodall was born in Harare, Zimbabwe and began a life-long interest in birds when he was 9 years old. He attended the University College of Rhodesia (B.Sc.), University of Rhodesia (M.Sc.) and the Animal Ecology Research Group, Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship (D.Phil). In 1978 he came to Australia and joined the Department of Veterinary Anatomy, University of Queensland and remained with the university until his retirement.

His interest in population dynamics led to several projects to establish the baseline information on the distribution and abundance of several groups of birds: garden bird surveys; forest bird surveys; coastal raptor surveys. These projects, many using volunteer observers but conducted in a rigorous scientific manner will enable us to monitor changes in these populations into the future. A feature of Peter’s research has been to involve amateurs in scientific projects. This has occurred during seven of the QNC’s long excursions.

In addition to his publications in scientific journals, Peter has written many popular articles in journals such as Australian Natural History, Queensland Science Teacher and the newsletters of the QNC and Birds Queensland. He wrote the chapter on Kingfishers in the multi-volume Handbook of Birds of the World. Recognising the need for an illustrated guide to the wildflowers of Girraween and Bald Rock National Parks, Peter and Leith Woodall produced a small booklet with this title in 2005.

Peter has made significant contributions to several professional and amateur organisations during his career. He was the Assistant Editor of the RAOU’s journal Emu (1986-88) and Editor (1988-89). He was Vice-President (1987-88) and President (1989) of the Queensland Naturalists’ Club Inc. and has been the Editor of its journal The Queensland Naturalist for 21 years (1996- ). He was the Vice-President of The Queensland Ornithological Society in 1980-81 and its President in 1982-83. He was awarded Hon. Life memberships of both these societies.

He has given many talks on natural history to community groups including Birds Queensland, Neighbourhood Watch, Probus, Queensland Naturalists Club, Queensland Finch Society, and SGAP. He has also led many excursions for both Birds Queensland and the Queensland Naturalists’ Club, including three long excursions for the QNC.

Peter has donated 90 recordings of bird calls, mainly from Australia, to www.xeno-canto.org, and over 2250 images, covering 1847 taxa to www.igoterra.com to aid others in the identification of species.

Peters’ major contribution has been to increase the scientific and public awareness of natural history, particularly birds, in Queensland. This has come from both his scientific publications, popular publications and from his talks which have brought this information to a much wider audience. His enthusiasm for birds and also for natural history in the broader sense has made him an excellent teacher and leader and he gathers around him willing volunteers for any of his activities.

Scroll to Top