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Dr. Paul M. Catling - 2009 Honorary Member


This award is presented in recognition of outstanding contributions by a member or non-member to Canadian natural history or to the successful operation of the Club. Usually people awarded an honorary membership have made extensive contributions over many years.

Dr. Paul M. Catling, one of Canada's most distinguished plant taxonomists, is a man of many talents and interests. Many who know him as a botanist are surprised to learn of his accomplishments in entomology, and the reverse is also true. He is an outstanding speaker and popularist, authoring dozens of articles of general interest on a variety of topics.

Dr. Catling received his doctorate in plant systematics from the University of Toronto in 1980 and has worked as a Research Scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) ever since. He is the Curator of the Agriculture Canada herbarium, Canada's largest plant collection, with over a million flowering plant specimens. Dr. Catling has authored over 200 refereed scientific articles and co-authored several books. He is internationally known for his work on the classification and ecology of plants and insects, and is widely recognized as an expert on hybridization and pollination biology.

Much of Dr. Catling's work at AAFC has involved economically important plants, particularly aquatics, forages, berry crops, and invading alien weeds. He has also worked towards the protection of economically important threatened native Canadian plants, and has participated in national and international committees concerned with plant conservation.

Dr. Catling has served as President of the Canadian Botanical Association, and he received their prestigious George Lawson medal in 2005 for his contributions to Canadian botany. He has been an Adjunct Professor and a Member of the School of Graduate Studies at the University of Ottawa since 1989. He has received awards for education in botany and for work on Canadian endangered species, and several species have been named in his honour.

Members of a club such as the OFNC couldn't find a better role model. Dr. Catling is one of eastern Canada's most productive and active field naturalists with an unsurpassed diversity of interests, producing (and publishing) hundreds of studies on alvars, orchids, aquatic plants, invasive weeds, birds, reptiles (especially snakes), lepidoptera, dragonflies and beetles and more. He is an inspirational example of broad-mined curiosity and investigation in an era of sadly narrow specialization.

Paul's interests in local and Canada-wide conservation are no less impressive. He has been a long-time, significant voice in conservation initiatives in Ottawa, Ontario and across Canada through participation in COSEWIC (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada), with the Nature Conservancy of Canada (as a Board member) and through involvement with regional organizations such as the Ottawa Field-Naturalists' Club (OFNC) and the Federation of Ontario Naturalists. Paul has always been ready to provide informed assistance to those seriously interested in the study, appreciation and most importantly, the conservation of natural features and habitats, regardless of their professional status or position.

An active member of the OFNC since 1982, Paul served on Council in 1980s and was Vice-President from 1982 until1984. He was a member of both Conservation and Excursions & Lectures committees and has been an Associate Editor (Botany) of The Canadian Field-Naturalist since 1997. He contributed many articles to club publications and acted as a leader in many OFNC excursions. Paul was much involved in major conservation issues such as the Alfred Bog and the Burnt Lands.

Paul's generosity with time, expertise and resources extends back to his student days in Toronto and Algonquin Park, and continues today. He works formally and informally with many such associates in his scientific and conservation work. He offers an exceptional example of the appropriate application of superior field-based science in the promotion and achievement of significant conservation goals. His efforts continue to provide substantial, permanent contributions to the appreciation and protection of native Canadian biodiversity and inspire others to do likewise.

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This page was created 23 May 2010
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