Birds and Mammals
| Philip Unitt
Philip Unitt, now Curator, served as collection manager for the Department of Birds and Mammals since 1988. His interests include the distribution, status, identification, subspecies, and conservation of the birds of California and Baja California. A species of long-term special focus has been the Willow Flycatcher; Phil wrote the seminal paper outlining the range, status, ecology, and history of the endangered southwestern subspecies Empidonax traillii extimus in 1986 and organized a workshop on the bird in 1995. He has investigated the taxonomy of the Marsh Wren and Brown Creeper, describing one new subspecies of each.
Current research projects include a bird atlas for San Diego County, encompassing both breeding and wintering species, integrating the work of over 300 volunteers, and analyzing a database projected to exceed 400,000 records at the completion of field work in February 2002. Another project is improved definition, using electronic colorimetry and discriminant-function analysis, of the morphological features distinguishing the Alder and Willow Flycatchers and identifying each taxon's winter range.
Since 1986 Phil has served as the editor of Western Birds, the regional journal of ornithology for western North America.
Since 1979 he has served as a consultant for various public agencies and private firms. Projects include surveying for a variety of endangered species, population monitoring, and serving on the technical advisory committee to the California Department of Fish and Game for revision of its list of bird species of special concern.
Here is a selected bibliography of some of Phil's publication in the scientific literature: