Seminar Series

Dennis H. Chitty Lecture


This lecture series honours Professor Dennis H. Chitty for his outstanding contributions to Population Biology and to the Department of Zoology at the University of British Columbia.

Dennis Chitty came to Canada from the United Kingdom in 1930 and obtained a B.A. from the University of Toronto in 1935. He returned to the United Kingdom and received an M.A. (1947) and D. Phil. (1950) from Oxford University, where he began studies with Charles Elton in the Bureau of Animal Population. He remained at Oxford until 1961, at which time he was appointed to the University of British Columbia.

Professor Chitty's research focused on understanding population cycles in small mammals. He quickly found that the conventional explanations of these fluctuations could not fit with the growing body of data on British voles. He proposed a novel explanation (now known as the Chitty Hypothesis of Population Regulation) that the cycles are self-generated by the interactions between individuals. He also proposed that the changes in behaviour and physiology that prevent population growth and lead to decline might have a genetic basis. His idea was the first to link evolutionary change to population phenomena and it generated decades of research into the roles of individual quality, genetics, and behaviour in population dynamics of animals.

Professor Chitty was made the recipient of the Master Teacher Award from the University of British Columbia in recognition of his excellence in teaching and Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in recognition of his contribution to science in Canada. In 1988 he was awarded the Fry Medal of the Canadian Society of Zoology which honoured both him and the memory of Dr. Fred Fry with whom Professor Chitty had worked in the Ontario Fisheries Research Laboratory, 1932-1935. He formally retired from teaching in 1978 when he became Professor Emeritus. In 1995 he received a D.Sc. from Oxford University.

Previous Dennis H. Chitty Lecturers:

1993, Professor N. Davies, "Chick Feeding Rules and Their Exploitation by Cuckoos"

1994, Professor Robert Ricklefs, "Development of Senescence in Birds"

1995, Professor Michael Rosenzweig, "How species accumulate in space and time"

1997, Professor Gail R. Michener, "Sex and the single squirrel: sexual differences in behavioural and physiological ecology of Richardson's ground squirrels"

2002, Dr. Bill Sutherland, "Linking Behaviour, Ecology and Conservation"

2003, Dr. Kay Hollekamp, "Unusual reproductive strategies in the spotted hyena"

2005, Dr. David Schindler, "The Biogeochemistry of Contaminants in High Altitude Ecosystems"

2006, Dr. Anthony Ives, "Phylogenetic signal in host-parasitoid associations;" and "Diversity and biological control of aphids"

2007, Dr. Robert D. Holt, "Niche Conservatism, Evolution, and Applied Ecology: Challenges and Opportunities"
Last updated 18 July 2007