James T. Tanner

James T. Tanner
(1914–1991)

James Taylor Tanner, a member of the AOU since 1933 and Elective Member since 1947, was born in Homer, New York, on 6 March 1914 and died in Knoxville,Tennessee, 21 January 1991. He attended Cornell University and did graduatestudy under Arthur A. Allen. His master’s thesis was on “Sound Recording a Nat ural History Museum.” His Ph.D. dissertation was “Life History and Ecology of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker,” based 21 months of field studies in the great Singer tract in northeastern Louisiana, the last refuge for this nearly extinct species. This was published as the National Audubon Society’s Research Report No. 1 in 1942 and subsequently, in book form by Dover. Many years later Tanner similarly visited almost inaccessible areas in northern Mexico, but failed to find the Imperial Woodpecker.

Tanner taught at East Tennessee State University from 1940, before serving in the Navy during World War II, reaching the rank of Lieutenant Commander. From 1947 until retirement in 1979, he was at the University of Tennessee.

He founded the ecology program there and directed more than 50 theses and dissertations in cooperation with seven university departments and the ecology section of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

From 1940, Jim was a valued member of the Tennessee Ornithological Society, serving as editor of the Migrant (1947-1955), as state president (1971-1973), and as Curator (from 1974). He was one of the first recipients of the Society’s Distinguished Service Award. He did extensive field work involving cooperative projects within the Knoxville Chapter, the state Atlas, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Tanner also was in charge of grants to graduate students in the Great Smoky Mountain Conservation Association. He published over 50 articles in refereed journals and Audubon Magazine. His Guide to the Study of Animal Populations was published by the University of Tennessee Press.