Staff Profile: Thomas C. Emmel


Thomas C. Emmel is director of the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity, as well as professor of zoology and entomology, and curator of natural sciences with the Florida Museum of Natural History. He previously served as director of the University of Florida Boender Endangered Species Laboratory since its inception in 1995, and the Department of Zoology's Division of Lepidoptera Research from 1980-2003. His Ph.D. in population biology was obtained under Paul R. Ehrlich at Stanford University, which led to his intense lifelong research interest in ecological and conservation issues. He has also written extensively about the biology, taxonomy, genetics, behavior, and ecology of butterflies and tree snails, and on general biology topics. Author of more than 400 publications, including 35 books, he has worked intensively since 1984 on the endangered Schaus Swallowtail butterfly in the Florida Keys and has directed an extensive captive propagation and reintroduction effort to help this endangered species recover so it can be taken off the federal endangered species list. His research on the effects of mosquito control pesticides on non-target wildlife and humans living in south Florida have led to better control measures for the use of pesticides and enhanced wildlife survival.

Other long-term research projects deal with microevolution, population biology, and ecological genetics of Cercyonis satyrid butterflies; chromosome evolution and macroevolution in the Lepidoptera; mimicry complexes in Mechanitis and Melinaea ithomiine butterflies of the Neotropics; biology, life histories, ecology, and conservation of the California butterfly fauna; butterfly diversity in the West Indies (especially Hispaniola, Trinidad and Tobago), Central and South America, Papua New Guinea, and South Pacific island groups; and fossil butterflies.

Some of Emmel's more recent authored or edited books include Systematics of Western North American Butterflies (1998); Butterfly Gardening (1997); Florida's Fabulous Butterflies (1997); chapters in Swallowtail Butterflies: Their Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (1995); Rare and Endangered Biota of Florida. Vol. 4. Invertebrates (1995) and Conservation Biology of Lycaenidae (Butterflies) (1993); Butterflies of the Florida Keys (1993); Florissant Butterflies: A Guide to Fossil and Present-day Species of Central Colorado (1992); Mosquito Control Pesticides: Ecological Impacts and Management Alternatives (1991); Butterflies (1991); Biology (1989); Butterflies of California (1989); Florida Environmental Guide (1986); Biology (1986); and other works.

McGuire Center: Thomas C. Emmel serves as director of the McGuire Center.