Richard Zann

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Associate Professor

Richard Alexis Zann
Born(1944-11-27)November 27, 1944
DiedFebruary 7, 2009(2009-02-07) (aged 64)
Alma materUniversity of Queensland
Known forResearch on the zebra finch
AwardsD.L. Serventy Medal
Scientific career
InstitutionsLa Trobe University
ThesisEthology of Poëphila grassfinches (Estrildidae) (1972[1])
Doctoral advisorJiro Kikkawa

Richard Alexis Zann (27 November 1944 – 7 February 2009)[2] was an Australian ornithologist.

Early life and career[edit]

Zann was born on 27 November, 1944, and grew up in the town of Casino, New South Wales, where he developed a boyhood interest in wildlife.[2] He graduated from the University of New England in 1965, with a First Class Honours degree. He completed his PhD in 1972 at the University of Queensland, studying the behaviour of grassfinches under the supervision of Jiro Kikkawa.[2][1] He moved to La Trobe University in Melbourne, Victoria in 1972, where he remained until his death in 2009.[2]

The main focus of Zann's ornithological research was the zebra finch,[2]. This work was synthesised in the 1996 book Zebra Finch: A Synthesis of Field and Laboratory Studies, which has been described as his magnum opus.[2] Zann was also known for his studies on the island biogeography of the volcanic island of Krakatau, Indonesia.[3][4] Zann was killed, along with his wife Eileen and daughter Eva, at Kinglake, Victoria in the 2009 Victorian bushfires.[5][2]


In 1998, Zann he was awarded the D. L. Serventy Medal by the Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union for outstanding published work on birds in the Australasian region.[6][7] In an obituary published in 2009, colleague Mike Clarke described Zann as "a reserved, humble, self-effacing man with a particularly dry sense of humour, who often made fun of his own shortcomings."[2] In 2010, the scientific journal Emu published a special issue in Zann's memory, dedicated to the zebra finch.[6]



  • Zann, Richard A. (1996). Zebra Finch: A Synthesis of Field and Laboratory Studies. (Illustrated by Michael Bamford). Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-854079-3.


  1. ^ a b Zann, Richard A. (1972) "Ethology of Poëphila grassfinches (Estrildidae)" PhD Thesis, School of Biological Sciences, The University of Queensland. doi:
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Clarke, Mike (2009) "Obituary: Richard A. Zann, 27 November 1944–7 February 2009" Emu, 109(2): 179-179.
  3. ^ Anon. (1998). D.L. Serventy Medal 1998: Citation. Richard Alexis Zann. Emu 98: 242.
  4. ^ Robin, Libby. (2001). The Flight of the Emu: a hundred years of Australian ornithology 1901-2001. Carlton, Vic. Melbourne University Press. ISBN 0-522-84987-3
  5. ^ Vallejo, Justin. (11 February 2009). Loving families wiped out by an indiscriminate inferno. The Daily Telegraph.[1]
  6. ^ a b Buchanan, Katherine L., Simon C. Griffith, and Sarah R. Pryke (2010) "The Zebra Finch: a synthesis revised" Emu 110(3): i-ii.
  7. ^ Incoll, Jan (2009). "Friends of Sherbrooke Forest, Inc. Newsletter No. 122".