David George Campbell

David George Campbell (born January 28, 1949 in Decatur, IL) is an American educator, ecologist, environmentalist, and award-winning author of nonfiction.

Campbell spent his childhood on Eleuthera Island, Bahamas, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Grosse Pointe, Michigan. He received a BS in biology from Kalamazoo College (1971), an MS in biology from the University of Michigan (1973), and a Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health (1984). He is married to Karen S. Lowell, a phytochemist; they have a daughter.


Bahama Islands

From 1974-1977 Campbell was the executive Director of the Bahamas National Trust,[1] the organization responsible for parks, reserves, and setting priorities for wildlife conservation in the Bahamian Archipelago. During his tenure as Director he established priorities for the protection of island-endemic species such as rock iguanas (Cyclura spp.) and hutias,[2] and started the process of the Bahamas becoming a signatory to the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). His career in the Bahamas cumulated in the publication of The Ephemeral Islands, the first natural history of the archipelago to be published since the 1800s.

Chincoteague Bay

From 1978-1983 Campbell elucidated the etiology of gray crab disease, an amoebic pathogen that every spring kills ca. 30% of the blue crabs (Callinectes sapidus) in Chincoteague Bay, VA. His research showed that the disease is spread by cannibalism, mediated by ambient temperature and salinity.[3]


In 1974 Campbell was a botanical explorer at the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia (INPA)[4] in Manaus, Brazil, from where he staged expeditions to study the ethnobotany of the Jamamaji and Paumari Native Americans.[5] Campbell joined the scientific staff of the New York Botanical Garden from 1984-1990, conducting floristic inventories throughout Brazilian Amazonia as part of the Projeto Flora Amazônica program;[6] destinations included O Deserto on the Rio Xingu (Pará),[7] the Rio Falsino (Amapá), Ilha de Maracá (Roraima), the Rio Moa and Serra Divisor (Acre). These expeditions resulted in several notable papers on allelopathy,[8] várzea floodplain forests[9][10] and anthropogenic lianaceous forests.[11] The Acre expeditions were chronicled in A Land of Ghosts, which won the Lannan Literary Award for Nonfiction.

Antarctica, Africa and Asia

In the late 1980s and 1990s, Campbell shifted his research to Africa, Asia and Antarctica: studying the impacts of elephants on west African forests,[12] the diversity of subtropical forests in southern China,[13] and conducting research on the pathologies of krill and marine isopods in the waters of Admiralty Bay, King George Island, one of the South Shetlands of the Antarctic Peninsula, joining the sixth Brazilian expedition to Antarctica (1988) and living at that nation's Comandante Ferraz Base.[14] This experience was chronicled in The Crystal Desert, which won the Burroughs Medal, the PEN Martha Albrand Award and the Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship Award.

Grinnell College

Since 1991 Campbell has been a professor of biology, chair of environmental studies and Henry R. Luce Professor [15] in Nations and the Global Environment at Grinnell College.[16][17] From 1994-2007 he and his Grinnell students conducted studies on the historical ecology of the Yucatec, Mopan and Kekchi Maya of Belize, using quantitative methods to test the long-held hypothesis that the Maya Forest is anthropogenic,[18] even suggesting that its species composition was due to post-contact ranching.[19] In 2010 Campbell extrapolated this controversial hypothesis to Amazonia, presenting evidence that pre-Columbian Native Americans caused a large-scale extinction of botanical diversity before the Europeans arrived.[20]

Literary career

Campbell is the author of four books of creative nonfiction. Two, The Crystal Desert and A Land of Ghosts, have been highly acclaimed.


  • The Ephemeral Islands. 1977. Macmillan. London. ASIN: B0000EH0ZI
  • Floristic Inventory of Tropical Countries. (coedited with H. D. Hammond). 1989. New York Botanical Garden. ISBN 0893273333
  • The Crystal Desert. 1991. Houghton Mifflin. Boston. ISBN 0618219218
  • Islands in Space and Time. 1996. Houghton Mifflin. Boston. ISBN 0395680832
  • A Land of Ghosts. 2006. Houghton Mifflin. Boston. ISBN 0813540526

Honors and awards


  1. ^ http://www.bnt.bs/
  2. ^ Campbell, D. G., K. S. Lowell & M. E. Lightbourn. 1991. The effect of introduced hutias (Geocapromys ingrahami) on the woody vegetation of Little Wax Cay, Bahamas.
  3. ^ Campbell, D. G. 1984. The Abundance and Distribution of Paramoeba perniciosa. Ph.D. Dissertation. The Johns Hopkins University. 188 pages
  4. ^ http://www.inpa.gov.br/
  5. ^ Prance, G. T., D. G. Campbell & B. W Nelson. 1977. The ethnobotany of the Paumari Indians (Rio Purus), J. Economic Botany. 31. 129-139
  6. ^ http://www.biodiversidadeamazonica.net/flora/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=44&Itemid=53
  7. ^ Campbell, D. G., D. C. Daly, G. T. Prance & U. N. Maciel. 1986. Quantitative ecological inventory of terra firme and várzea tropical forest on the Rio Xingu, Brazilian Amazon. Brittonia 38(4): 369-393
  8. ^ Campbell, D. G., P. M. Richardson & A. R. Rosas. 1989. Field screening for allelopathy in tropical forest trees, particularly Duroia hirsuta, in the Brazilian Amazon. Biochemical Systematics & Ecology. 17(5): 403-407
  9. ^ Campbell, D. G. J. L. Stone & A. Rosas, Jr. 1992. A comparison of the phytosociology of three floodplain (várzea) forests of known ages, Rio Juruá, western Brazilian Amazon. Botanical J. of the Linnean Society 108: 213-237.
  10. ^ Campbell, D. G. 1994. Scale and patterns of community structure in Amazonian forests. Pages 181-199 In: P. Edwards and R. May (eds.) Large-Scale Ecology and Conservation Biology. Blackwell. Oxford.
  11. ^ Balée, W. & D. G. Campbell. 1990. Ecological aspects of liana forest, Xingu River, Amazonian Brazil. Biotropica. 22(1): 36-47.
  12. ^ Campbell, D. G. 1989. Gap formation in tropical forest canopy by elephants, Oveng, Gabon, Central Africa. Biotropica. 23(2): 195-196
  13. ^ Z Wang, S. An, D. G. Campbell, X. Yang & X. Zhu Xuelei. 1999, Biodiversity of the montane rainforest in Diaoluo Mountain, Hainan. Acta Ecologica Sinica. 19(1): 61-67.
  14. ^ http://www2.furg.br/esantar/ferraz.htm
  15. ^ http://www.hluce.org/hrluceprofship.aspx
  16. ^ http://www.grinnell.edu/academicbiologyfaculty/campbell
  17. ^ http://www.grinnell.edu/academic/biology/faculty/dcampbell-books
  18. ^ Campbell, D. G., A. Ford, K. S. Lowell, J. Walker, J. K. Lake, C. Ocampo-Raeder, A. Townesmith & M. J. Balick. 2006. The feral forests of the eastern Petén. Pages 21-55 In: W. Balée & C. Erickson (eds.). Time and Complexity in Historical Ecology - Studies in the Neotropical Lowlands. Columbia University Press. NY. ISBN 0231509618
  19. ^ Campbell, D. G., J. Guittar, K. S. Lowell. 2008. Are Colonial Pastures The Ancestors of The Contemporary Maya Forest? J. Ethnobiology 28(2):278-289
  20. ^ Campbell, D. G. Botanical extinction in Amazonia: was there a Neotropical “Langsamenkrieg”? Pages 173-188 In. E. Barrone-Visigalli & A. Roosevelt (eds.) Amaz'hommes, Sciences de l’Homme et Sciences de la Nature en Amazonie? IBIS Rouge Éditions, Matoury. ISBN 9782844503725
  21. ^ http://www.gf.org/fellows
  22. ^ http://research.amnh.org/burroughs/medal_award_list.html
  23. ^ http://catalog.dclibrary.org/vufind/Record/ocm25628865/Reviews
  24. ^ http://www.pen.org/page.php/prmID/896
  25. ^ http://www.lannan.org/lf/lit/awards-list/nonfiction-awards/
  26. ^ http://www.kzoo.edu/aluminfo/?p=awards&s=daa

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