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Donald W. Tinkle
LSA Minutes

1930 - 1980

Dr. Donald W. Tinkle, an internationally known biologist, died at his home in Saline, Michigan on February 21, after a brief illness.

Born December 3, 1930, in Dallas, Texas, Don received his B.S. degree from Southern Methodist University in 1952 and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Tulane University in 1955 and 1956, respectively. Prior to joining the faculty of The University of Michigan in 1965, he was a faculty member at West Texas State University (1956-1957) and Texas Tech University (1957-1965). He served as Curator of Amphibians and Reptiles of The University of Michigan Museum of Zoology until 1975 when he was appointed Director of the Museum, a post in which he was imaginative, effective, and trusted by his colleagues.

Don was an exceptionally talented teacher who excelled in undergraduate courses. He had a great facility for presenting a complicated subject in a way that it was easily grasped by all students.

Widely respected as one who practiced rigorous science, Don expected no less of his colleagues. He was the author of more than 80 scholarly papers and his published research demonstrated a unique and valuable balance of empirical and theoretical approaches to critical problems in ecology and evolutionary biology. He pioneered life history studies of reptiles and was one of the first to accomplish detailed, long-term experiments on natural populations.

Don served as President of the Southwestern Association of Naturalists (1964-1965) and was editor-in-chief (1958-1963), and was associate editor of many journals, including Evolution and American Midland Naturalists. He was also a member of review panels for the National Science Foundation, Atomic Energy Commission, and American Institute of Biological Sciences.

Though his scientific career was short, he received many honors. He held the honorary Maytag Chair in Vertebrate Ecology at Arizona State University in 1972. He was elected a fellow of A.A.A.S. and Herpetologist's League. In recognition of his research accomplishments, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for 1979-1980 to continue his long-term field studies of the life history and demography of turtles. Don was also named the recipient of the Eminent Ecologist Award for 1980 by the Ecological Society of America.

Without question, Don's most important legacy is the group of students and colleagues he inspired. It was in the field where his enthusiasm, endurance, and sense of humor seemed to add greatly to his image as a truly warm person. His impact, on both professionals and amateurs alike, was enormous. American ecology and herpetology have lost one of their most prolific and influential contributors. His students and colleagues have, in addition, lost a trusted advisor and a valuable friend.

A research fund has been established in Donald W. Tinkle's name through the Museum of Zoology, The University of Michigan.