Photos of readers

This is the last one in the tank, so send your contributions (two photos max, please) if you want your mug plastered on this site.

Today’s reader happens to be John Avise, a fellow evolutionist who’s contributed many photos to this site, and is now doing the “Duck O’ The Week” on Sundays.  John’s words are indented:

During my fifty years in academia, I’ve tried to bridge a formerly huge gap between the microevolutionary sciences (such as population genetics, ecology, and conservation biology) and the macroevolutionary disciplines of species formation and phylogenetics.  Another gap that I tried my best to close was between outdoor natural-history studies and indoor molecular biology. So my heart has always been devoted to the wonders of nature and my mind to understanding the genetics behind life’s diversity.  I spent the first 30 years of my career at the University of Georgia before moving to the University of California, where among other hobbies I’ve taken up bird and nature photography.

The photo is the cover of my autobiography, which was published in 2000 by Smithsonian Institution Press (and is available on Amazon).  The book details the many adventures I’ve had over the years and around the world with creatures ranging from corals and sponges to numerous fishes, herps, birds, and mammals. It also recounts all the personal joys and tribulations of a life spent teaching and doing scientific research. I love both science and nature, and that’s why the book’s subtitle is “A Naturalist In the Age of Genetics”.

And here’s a photo of my wonderful parakeet Buddy, who’s now 16 years old!  I’ve had parakeets or budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus) all my life.


  1. C.
    Posted August 14, 2020 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    Now I realize one thing I could say that I love to read here on WEIT; your Duck o’ the Week posts. They are wonderful even if I almost never guess correctly and rarely post a comment. I shall be hunting up a copy of the book as soon as I have stead paychecks coming in again.

    • C.
      Posted August 14, 2020 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

      oops, I meant “steady” paycheck…

      Anyway,I just looked up your book and the dim lightbulb above my head flickered to life momentarily. John C. Avise, as in the book “Genetics in the Wild”? I’ve had that book for years, I never put two and two together! Duh!

  2. jezgrove
    Posted August 14, 2020 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    “John’s words are indented:” – not the first couple of paragraphs.

    Great photos, and an interesting story to go with them!

  3. Posted August 14, 2020 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    That’s an old budgie! 😃

    • Posted August 14, 2020 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

      I think mine is nearly that old too. He’s outlived a couple of other cage mates. I love him except when he decides to chirp during conference calls.

  4. Mark R.
    Posted August 14, 2020 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    Sounds like you have an adventurous life and a great story. Thanks for sharing your book.
    Buddy is the perfect name for a budgie. I used to keep budgies and cockatiels as a kid and teenager, but haven’t kept any birds for decades. Maybe again someday, they make wonderful pets.

  5. Posted August 14, 2020 at 3:45 pm | Permalink


    • Terry Pedersen
      Posted August 16, 2020 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

      Beautiful Budgie! I look forward to your Duck of the Week very much.

  6. Steve Pollard
    Posted August 14, 2020 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    ‘I’ve tried to bridge a formerly huge gap between the microevolutionary sciences (such as population genetics, ecology, and conservation biology) and the macroevolutionary disciplines of species formation and phylogenetics’.

    It is slightly depressing to know that there are a lot of people around who are quite prepared to deny both the micro- and the macroevolutionary parts of your work, and who are indeed determined to not understand any of them.

    Your work and achievements will be among those that survive. Truth will out!

  7. rickflick
    Posted August 14, 2020 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    I grew up with parakeets too. Not lately though. The book looks like a good read. I’ll put it on my book list. Thanks for all your fine contributions to WEIT.

  8. Debra Coplan
    Posted August 14, 2020 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for the Duck of the Week posts. I’ve learned so much from them and enjoy the incredible photos.
    Buddy is such a beautiful color blue.

  9. Posted August 14, 2020 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

    Good to see you again, John. (John is particularly known as a pioneer in using sequence data to study the effects of geography and history on genetic differentiation of populations. I believe he coined the term “phylogeography” for these studies.)

    • john avise
      Posted August 14, 2020 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

      Thank you, Joe. You too have been a pioneer in evolutionary genetics, so it’s great to hear from you. And thanks also to the other WEIT readers who offered kind words about my wildlife photos.

      • BJ
        Posted August 14, 2020 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

        I just think it’s cool that I comment on a site where two great scientists are having an exchange in the comments section of a post on a blog written by another great scientist. It makes me feel so much smarter than I am!

        And that’s a beautiful little buddy you have. “Robin’s Egg Blue” was always my favorite Crayola color, and your guy matches it almost exactly.

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