Honorary awards

Dr Daniel Lunney

The degree of Doctor of Science (honoris causa) was conferred upon Dr Daniel Lunney at the Science ceremony held at 2.00pm on 19 May 2006.

Dr Daniel Lunney

Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Merlin Crossley reading out the citation for Dr Daniel Lunney, photo, copyright Memento Photography.

Dr Daniel Lunney

Dr Lunney, photo, copyright Memento Photography.

Dr Daniel Lunney

Chancellor the Hon Justice Kim Santow conferring the honorary degree upon Dr Lunney, photo, copyright Memento Photography.


Presented by Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Merlin Crossley

Chancellor, I have the honour to present Dr Daniel Lunney, for admission to the degree of the degree of Doctor of Science (honoris causa).

Daniel Lunney obtained his Bachelors and Masters degrees from the University of Sydney, graduating with the latter in 1979 after carrying out some pioneering research in mammalian ecology. During the 1970s, Dr Lunney collaborated with staff at the Australian Museum to set up long-term surveys of vertebrates in eucalypt forests at Nadgee Nature Reserve on the south coast of New South Wales. These surveys, far-sighted at the time, have been continued by Dr Lunney and now constitute one of the longest-running and most valuable ecological datasets in the southern hemisphere.

In the late 1970s, Dr Lunney also took up the position of Research Scientist at the (then) New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service. This was a period characterised by fierce debates about logging, and about the future of old growth trees. With his research training in the ecology of forest vertebrates at Nadgee, Dr Lunney was well placed to advise on protocols for harvesting that would also conserve the native fauna. In 1980, informed in large part by Dr Lunney’s work, changes were introduced into forestry practice that achieved this conservation goal and, indeed, have been maintained to the present. During these years, Dr Lunney also began research on some of the less conspicuous denizens of the forests: the small lizards and the bats. Much of our knowledge of how these animals cope with fire, flood and drought comes from Dr Lunney’s pioneering work. With this knowledge we have much greater opportunity to manage the forests to ensure that these small creatures persist.

While continuing his visionary work to secure the future of Australia’s forest fauna, in the 1980s Dr Lunney also found time to look back and develop a new discipline area: that of the ecological historian. In an entirely novel approach for ecologists, Dr Lunney proposed using settlers’ diaries, newspaper accounts and other early sources to reconstruct the forests and their fauna, and to chart how they have changed over time. This approach provides unique insight into the disturbances that have caused changes to the forests and losses of the native fauna, and it provides much-needed perspective on how we might achieve restoration. Dr Lunney’s approach has been adopted by conservation managers.

As a consequence of these pioneering efforts, in 1992 Dr Lunney was appointed Chair of the inaugural Scientific Committee set up to review the status of all vertebrates in New South Wales. The brief of the Committee was to carry out the first stock-take of the State’s native fauna, and to complete this within one month, no less. Dr Lunney drove the process so effectively that the lists of threatened species identified at the time remain essentially the same today.

Dr Lunney’s contributions extend beyond his primary research and its many applications and into broader community. He has been a member of the Royal Zoological Society since 1980, and has been an exceptionally dynamic editor of the Society’s journal, the Australian Zoologist. Under his guidance, the journal now publishes over 600 pages a year - a 10-fold increase since Dr Lunney took on the editorship in 1987. Dr Lunney has also edited 24 books, 16 for the Royal Zoological Society, reflecting his enthusiasm for communicating science and its importance to his peers and the broader community.

In recognition of his long and distinguished service to wildlife ecology and conservation, Dr Lunney has been promoted to Principal Research Scientist at the Department of Environment and Conservation. He has served as Conservation Officer for the Australian Mammal Society and is one of a very small group of Australians to serve as a member of the World Conservation Union’s specialist groups for both bats and marsupials. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales in 1996, and recently was admitted to an honorary Doctor of Science degree by Murdoch University. These achievements are testimony to Dr Lunney’s extraordinary energy and commitment to science.

Chancellor, I have great pleasure in presenting to you, for admission to the degree of Doctor of Science (honoris causa), scholar, educator and conservation scientist, Daniel Henry Lunney, and I invite you to confer the degree upon him.