logo logo

Bruce McPherson Beehler

Bruce McPherson Beehler, American research zoologist, ornithologist, conservationist. Co-discoverer with John P. Dumbacher of toxicity in the Pitohui, a genus of bird that uses as a chemical defense the alkaloid homobatrachotoxin. Thomas J. Watson Foundation fellow, 1974; research grantee National Geography Society, 1980, 86, 89, 94, New York Zoological Society, 1986. Fellow American Ornithologists Union (elective).

Background

  • Beehler, Bruce McPherson was born on October 11, 1951 in Baltimore. Son of William Henry Junior and Cary (Baxter) Beehler.

  • Education

    • Bruce Beehler graduated from Williams College and received his Masters and PhD studying the behavioral ecology of the birds-of-paradise at Princeton University.

    Career

    • Prior to this appointment, Beehler worked for Conservation International, the Wildlife Conservation Society, Counterpart International, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. He has been an authority on New Guinea birds for several decades, having authored or co-authored several major works on the biodiversity this, the largest tropical island, including The Birds of Paradise (1998), The Birds of New Guinea (1986, 2014) and the two-volume Ecology of Papua (2007). To the general public, Beehler is best known for having co-led a widely published rapid assessment survey on biological diversity in 2005 to the Foja Mountains, Papua, where he, together with an international team of 11 scientists, the majority from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), made a number of scientific discoveries.

      The findings on this survey expanded on previous research conducted in the region by Dr. Jared Diamond in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Beehler and colleagues, however, returned with the first ever photographs of two species of birds, the bronze parotia (Parotia berlepschi) and the golden-fronted bowerbird (Amblyornis flavifrons), that previously were known only from a few specimens. Additionally, a previously unknown species of honeyeater was discovered, it being scientifically described in 2007 as the wattled smoky honeyeater (Melipotes carolae).

      The specific epithet, carolae, commemorates Carol Beehler, the wife of Bruce Beehler. Together with a team from 60 Minutes, Beehler returned to the Foja Mountains in 2007, resulting in the first ever filming of several of the species discovered in 2005, as well as encounters with an undescribed giant rat (Mallomys sp) and a tiny pygmy possum (Cercartetus sp).

    Major achievements

    • Co-discoverer with John P. Dumbacher of toxicity in the Pitohui, a genus of bird that uses as a chemical defense the alkaloid homobatrachotoxin.

    Works

    • The Ecology of Papua: Part Two
    • Ecology of Papua Part II is a definitive guide to the ecology and natural history of Papua, the western half of the island of New Guinea.
    • The Ecology of Papua: Part One
    • Ecology of Papua Part I is a definitive guide to the ecology and natural history of Papua, the western half of the island of New Guinea.

    Politics

    Party affiliation: Democrat

    Membership

    Fellow American Ornithologists Union (elective).

    Personality

    Interests

    Avocations: hiking, tennis. Co-discoverer with John P. Dumbacher of toxicity in the Pitohui, a genus of bird that uses as a chemical defense the alkaloid homobatrachotoxin.

    Connections

    • Married Carol Hare, June 7, 1982. Children: Grace Bryant, Andrew McPherson, Cary Elizabeth Selden.
    • father: William Henry Beehler Junior
    • mother: Cary (Baxter) Beehler
    • spouse: Carol Hare
    • children: Grace Bryant Beehler
    • Andrew McPherson Beehler
    • Cary Elizabeth Selden Beehler
    See on larger map
    Born October 11, 1951
    Died 2014
    (aged 62)
    • 1974
      Williams College
    • 1978
      Princeton University
    • 1983
      Princeton University
    • 1981 - 1984
      Science assistant, to secretary Smithsonian Institution
      Washington, United States
    • 1988 - 1991
      Science assistant, to secretary Smithsonian Institution
    • 1991 - 1993
      associate, research zoologist New York Zoological Society
    • 1993 - 1995
      senior, ecologist Conservation International
    • 1995 - 1997
      natural resource management, officer United States Department State
      Washington, United States
    • show more ...