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Doug James, 1925 - 2018

Fern Davies

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Doug James, a fellow of the American Ornithological Society and infamous organizer of the annual All-out Ostrich Uproar fun run held at that society's meetings, passed away at his Arkansas home on 17 December 2018. In 2014, he was the recipient of the William and Nancy Klamm Service Award Committee. This award honors the memory of extensive service and commitment to the society shown by Bill and Nancy Klamm, who generously supported the society with both their time and a substantial financial bequest.


From the obituary published in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette:

Doug received a Bachelor of Science at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 1946, a Masters degree in 1947, and a PhD at the University Illinois, Champaign-Urbana in 1957. His graduate work focused on the ecology of roosting blackbirds under direction of avian ecologist Dr. S.C. Kendeigh. Doug began teaching at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville in 1953 and was named University Professor of the Biological Sciences in 2004. At his retirement in 2016, he had become the longest serving professor in University of Arkansas history. During his career he taught as a Fulbright Scholar in Ghana (1970-1971), Nepal (1981-1982), and Belize (1988-1989). During his 64 years associated with the University of Arkansas, Doug taught courses including general biology, vertebrate biology, ornithology, mammalogy, animal behavior, and ecology. An authority in ornithology, he was the senior author on Arkansas Birds (UA Press, 1986). Doug mentored eighty-three graduate students: 53 master's and 30 doctoral students. He was author and/or coauthor of 114 scientific publications.

Drafted during the Korean War, Doug served as a Research Associate in the US Army (1954-1956) in the Army Chemical Corps at Pine Bluff Arsenal (Arkansas), where he also conducted numerous bird research projects. Doug helped found the Arkansas Audubon Society in 1955 and the Arkansas Audubon Society Trust in 1972. Doug's students started the Northwest Arkansas Audubon Society in 1978. He served on the board of the Fayetteville Natural Heritage Association and endorsed protection of the forests on Kessler Mountain where he lived for many years. His involvement with the Ozark Society and protection of the Buffalo National River is recounted in the Battle for the Buffalo River, by Neil Compton. He also served as a general ecologist in the Division of Biomedical and Environmental Research for the US Atomic Energy Commission (1974-1976). Doug served as president of the Wilson Ornithological Society in 1977-1979.

Doug's favorite bird family was the starlings: Sturnidae. According to Doug, "Starlings are so beautiful, there are so many species, they are so iridescent: they rival hummingbirds in colors." Doug loved marathon running, ballet, opera, hockey, art, all sports, and watched Babe Ruth play at Tiger stadium in Detroit.

A lovely essay about Doug was written by his colleagues, Ragupathy Kannan (University of Arkansas at Fort Smith) and  Kimberly G. Smith (University of Arkansas, Fayetteville).

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