[Taxacom] Fwd: Tribute to Ian Common

Felix Sperling felix.sperling at ualberta.ca
Sun Jun 4 23:12:23 CDT 2006

Begin forwarded message:

> From: <Marianne.Horak at csiro.au>
> Date: June 3, 2006 7:55:56 PM MDT
> Subject: Tribute to Ian Common
> Dear Colleagues,
> It is with great sadness that we have to let you know that Dr Ian 
> Common died in his sleep early this morning (3 June), just a few days 
> before his 89th birthday. He had been professionally active until 
> recently, going on regular collecting trips with his wife Jill.
> Ian was one of the most outstanding lepidopterists of our time, not 
> only single-handedly laying the foundation for our understanding of 
> the vast and diverse Australian fauna but producing seminal studies of 
> worldwide relevance each time he monographed a group. His early 
> research made major contributions towards resolving the taxonomy of 
> many important Lepidoptera pests in Australia. His 1954 paper on the 
> biology of the bogong moth is a classic study on insect migration, 
> elucidating an iconic Australian phenomenon. Some of Ian’s most 
> remarkable contributions include the study of the primitive family 
> Lophocoronidae, and the families Anthelidae and Carthaeidae. However, 
> his primary research contributions were concerned with the Tortricinae 
> and Oecophorinae. Based on revisions of Australian groups, Ian made 
> very significant contributions to tortricine systematics and phylogeny 
> relevant well beyond Australia. His single most outstanding 
> achievement is the complete overview of the genera of the Australian 
> Oecophorinae, with some 5000 species in 250 genera the largest family 
> group of Australian Lepidoptera. This three-volume work gives access 
> to one of the largest Australian radiations. Ian’s broad and scholarly 
> knowledge of Lepidoptera systematics was summarised in the chapters in 
> The Insects of Australia and his 1975 review of the evolution and 
> classification of the Lepidoptera, texts which have inspired 
> lepidopterists around the world.
> Ian has always shared his vast knowledge most generously with 
> colleagues as well as with serious amateur naturalists. From the two 
> small Jacaranda pocket guides on Australian moths and butterflies to 
> the comprehensive volumes Butterflies of Australia and Moths of 
> Australia, he produced extensive contributions which served as 
> textbooks for systematists and as ‘bibles’ for enthusiasts. Both 
> volumes reflect Ian’s unrivalled knowledge of Australian moth biology. 
> Unlike many of us, Ian managed to put on paper a remarkable proportion 
> of his knowledge in scholarly research publications and of his rich 
> field experience in books, much of it written after retirement.
> Although Ian achieved international fame for his work on the higher 
> classification and his revisionary studies, in addition to all this he 
> build up the outstanding Lepidoptera holdings in the ANIC. The 
> collection with its extremely high standard of preservation and 
> curatorial practice is a testimony to Ian’s dedication and industry. 
> Together with colleagues, in particular Murray Upton and Ted Edwards, 
> he undertook a large number of major field expeditions and has 
> continued his tireless efforts in collecting after his retirement 
> until shortly before his death. The arrival at the ANIC of moths 
> collected by Ian always had the feel of opening Christmas parcels.
> Ian’s status as one of the foremost lepidoperists was acknowledged 
> with numerous honours. He won the Royal Zoological Society of New 
> South Wales’ Whitley Medal in 1991 for ‘Moths of Australia’ for the 
> ‘best book on the natural history of Australian animals’. In 1996 he 
> was awarded the Karl Jordan Medal by the Lepidopterists’ Society, and 
> in 2001 he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia.
> Ian will be missed not only as an exceptional scientist but also as a 
> wonderful colleague and friend. Anybody who has worked with him will 
> remember his quiet but wicked sense of humour, and in his close 
> collaborators this generous, thoughtful scholar inspired the loyalty 
> of a family. His wife Jill’s unstinting support throughout his career 
> was a major factor in making all his achievements possible.
> Marianne Horak & Ted Edwards
> ANIC (Lepidoptera)
> CSIRO Entomology
> GPO Box 1700
> Canberra, ACT 2601
> Tel. 02-6246 4259  International  +61-2-6246 4259
> Fax 02-6246 4264

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