Faculty & Staff

David George Haskell

Professor of Biology
B. A., University of Oxford; Ph. D., Cornell University

Nonfiction Writing, Biodiversity, Evolution, Conservation



Please see my personal webpage for up-to-date news.

The Songs of Trees (Viking, 2017) will be published April 4th, 2017.

The Forest Unseen (Viking, 2012) was the winner of 2013 Best Book Award from the National Academies, finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Nonfiction, runner-up for the 2013 PEN/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award, winner of the 2013 Reed Environmental Writing Award, and winner of the 2012 National Outdoor Book Award for Natural History Literature. The book is available as in paperbackhardcover, ebook, and audiobook. You can read more on the book's website.

I was named a 2014 Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.


Follow my wanderings through natural history, science, and literature on my blog, Ramble, on Twitter, or on Facebook.


BA with Honors (First), Zoology. 1990. University of Oxford, Oxford, UK. Thesis advisor: W. D. Hamilton.

PhD Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. 1996. Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. Thesis advisor: D. W. Winkler.


Guggenheim Fellowship, 2014.

The Oxford American featured my work in their "Most Creative Teachers in the South" article. August 2011.

Carnegie-CASE Professor of the Year for Tennessee. Award given in recognition of “extraordinary dedication to undergraduate teaching”. November 2009.

Teacher of the Year Award. Society of Sewanee Scholars. May 2007.

Election by the American Ornithologists’ Union to “Elective Member” status in recognition for “significant contributions to ornithology”. May 2005.

Contemplative Practice Fellow. American Council of Learned Societies. 2005.

Associated Colleges of the South Environmental Fellow. 2000-2002.




Darwin's Garden. As part of the new Spencer Hall project I worked with Physical Plant Services and other faculty to build a garden celebrating Darwin and evolution. The garden features a sculpture of Darwin, a walkway divided into the periods of life's history with fossil stamps, and evolutionarily significant plants.

Bio-Bikes. We now have a fleet of bikes for students in field labs to use for transportation. This is more fun and less damaging than the monster vans that we used to use for transportation. This project has been facilitated by the great folks at Woody's Bikes.

Food Working Group. I co-chaired this group that aims to increase sustainability of the University's "food system." This year, we have sponsored community-wide discussions of local food (the "How, then Shall We Eat?" forums in Convocation Hall), started a composting system that now composts about 30,000 lbs of food waste per semester, and have successfully worked with the University and town governing bodies to change local ordinances so that community members can now keep modest numbers of small livestock, reversing a decades-old ban.

Shakerag Hollow. I co-led the campaign to buy and protect more than 200 acres of forest in Shakerag Hollow. Working with the South Cumberland Regional Land Trust and the Land Trust for Tennessee, we raised all the funds needed to purchase the land, placed it under conservation easement and donated the land to the University for education and research.

I serve on the Open Space Institute's Southern Cumberland Land Protection Fund Advisory Committee and the Southern Cumberland and Southeast Resilience Funds Advisory Committee.

Judge for SAGE Magazine Emerging Environmental Writers Award 2015. Yale University.

Judge for the Reed Award in Environmental Writing. Southern Environmental Law Center. 2014, 2015.

Revision of Biology curriculum. We've recently revamped our introductory ecology-evolution-biodiversity class to make the class 100% active learning. No more powerpoint orations...



List of "bird jobs" — sign up for email delivery

Conservation Biology jobs

Texas A&M's job board in wildlife biology

Wildlife Society job listings

The Wilson Ornithology Society overview of grad schools in Ornithology

Walter Carson's primer on grad school admissions in ecology 




Haskell, D. G. 2012. The Forest Unseen. Viking (Penguin). Reprinted as Penguin paperback, 2013. Translations forthcoming in Japanese, French, Chinese and Korean. 2013 Pulitzer Prize Finalist. Winner of the 2013 Reed Environmental Writing Award and the 2012 National Outdoor Book Award for Natural History Literature.

Selected other publications (* indicates Sewanee undergraduate co-author):

Harris*, J. B. C., & Haskell, D. G. (2013). Simulated birdwatchers' playback affects the behavior of two tropical birds. PLoS ONE, 8(10), e77902. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0077902

Haskell, D. G. and J. W. Pan*. 2013. Phylogenetic analysis of threatened and range-restricted limestone specialists in the land snail genus Anguispira. Conservation Genetics 14: 671-682. doi: 10.1007/s10592-013-0460-4

Haskell, D. G. 2013. Nature's case for same-sex marriage. Op Ed in New York Times. (March 29th, 2013).

Haskell, D. G. 2012. Fifty Years later: Rachel Carson’s Legacy. Op Ed in Chattanooga Times Free Press. (Sunday Edition: Oct 14th, 2012).

Haskell, D. G. 2012. Scientific American Guest Blog: The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Sewanee’s Forest. Scientific American online. (April 19th, 2012).

Haskell, D. G. 2012. A Closer Look. Essay in Sewanee Magazine. (Summer 2012 edition).

Haskell, D. G. 2012. Schuler Books Guest Blog: Wonder Increases as Speed Decreases.  (May 11th, 2012).

Haskell, D. G., D. L. Wolford, and M. E. Pate, eds. 2011. Sustainable food at Sewanee: a report to the Sustainability Steering Committee

Haskell, D. G. and J. W. Pan*. 2010. The short-term effects of foot-clipping as a non-lethal method of obtaining tissue samples from terrestrial gastropods. Journal of Molluscan Studies. 76: 301-302. doi:10.1093/mollus/eyq021

Haskell, D. G. 2010. Least Terns, St. Catherine’s Island, Georgia. Wildbranch: An Anthology of Nature, Environmental, and Place-based Writing (F. Caplow and S. Cohen, eds.). University of Utah Press. [poem]

Haskell, D. G. 2010. Common Yellowthroat, Craftsbury Common, Vermont. Wildbranch: An Anthology of Nature, Environmental, and Place-based Writing (F. Caplow and S. Cohen, eds.). University of Utah Press. [poem]

Haskell, D. G. et al. 2010. Review of lease policies and proposals for reform. Sewanee Leaseholders Association report to the Community Council.

Casey, J. M.*, M. E. Wilson*, N. Hollingshead, and D. G. Haskell. 2009. The effects of exurbanization on bird and macroinvertebrate communities in deciduous forests on the Cumberland Plateau, Tennessee. International Journal of Ecology 2009: Article ID 539417. doi:10.1155/2009/539417

Haskell, D. G. and A. Adhikari*. 2009. Darwin's Manufactory Hypothesis Is Confirmed and Predicts the Extinction Risk of Extant Birds. PLoS ONE 4: e5460. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0005460. 

Thurman, C. F.*, and L. P. Shackleton*, and D. G. Haskell. 2008. Does Density of Dead Shells Predict Density of Living Anguispira cumberlandiana Lea 1840 (Gastropoda: Discidae)? American Midland Naturalist 159: 478-481.

Haskell, D. G. 2008. Bark and blood. Whole terrain. 15: 24-27

Harris, J. B. C.* and D. G. Haskell. 2008.  Land Cover Sampling Biases Associated with Roadside Bird Surveys. Avian Conservation and Ecology - Écologie et conservation des oiseaux 2: e12.

Haskell D. G., J. P. Evans, N. W. Pelkey. 2006. Depauperate Avifauna in Plantations Compared to Forests and Exurban Areas. PLoS ONE 1(1): e63. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000063

Scheffers, B. R.*, J. B. C. Harris*, and D. G. Haskell. 2006. Avifauna associated with ephemeral ponds on the Cumberland Plateau, Tennessee. Journal of Field Ornithology 77: 178-183

McGrath, D. A; J. P. Evans; C. K. Smith; D. G. Haskell; N. W. Pelkey; R. R. Gottfried; C. D. Brockett; M. D. Lane; & E. D. Williams. 2004.  Mapping land-use change and monitoring the impacts of hardwood-to-pine conversion on the Southern Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee. Earth Interactions 8: 1-24

Haskell, D. G., 2003. A case study in conservation biology: Songbirds in the Eastern United States.  Pages 55-74 in Loss of Biodiversity, S. L. Spray and K. L. McGlothlin (eds), Rowman and Littlefield Publishers.

Haskell, D. G. 2002. Begging behavior and nest predation.  Pages 163-172 in The Evolution of Nestling Begging: Competition, Cooperation and Communication, J. Wright and M. L. Leonard (eds.), Kluwer Academic Press.

Evans, J. P.; N. W. Pelkey; & D. G.  Haskell. 2002. An Assessment of Forest Change on the Cumberland Plateau in Southern Tennessee. Small Area Assessment Forestry Demonstration Project for the Southern Forest Resource Assessment. Final Report to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. http://lal.sewanee.edu/research/assessment.html

Haskell, D. G.; A. M. Knupp*; & M. C. Schneider*. 2001. Nest predator abundance and urbanization. Pages 243-258 in Avian Ecology and Conservation in an Urbanizing World, J. M. Marzluff, R. Bowman, and R. Donnelly (eds.), Kluwer Academic Press.

Haskell, D. G., 2000. Effects of forest roads on the macroinvertebrate soil fauna of the Southern Appalachian mountains. Conservation Biology 14: 57-63

Haskell, D. G., 1999. The effect of predation on begging-call evolution in nestling wood warblers. Animal Behaviour 57: 893-901 [this paper is used as an example in the "Evolution of Communication" section of J. Alcock's Animal Behavior textbook]

Haskell, D. G. 1997. Learning and foraging: experiments and a model examining the area-restricted search behavior of ferrets Behavioral Ecology 8: 448-455

Haskell, D. G. 1996. Do the bright plumages of birds incur a cost due to nest predation? Evolutionary Ecology 10: 285-288

Haskell, D. G. 1995. Forest fragmentation and nest-predation: Are experiments with Japanese Quail eggs misleading? Auk 112: 767-770

Haskell, D. G. 1995. A reevaluation of the effects of forest fragmentation on rates of bird-nest predation. Conservation Biology 9: 1316-1318

Haskell, D. G. 1994. Experimental evidence that nestling begging behavior incurs a cost due to nest predation. Proceedings of the Royal Society,  London, series B: Biological Sciences 257: 161-164. [this paper is used as an example in the "Parents and their Offspring" section of F. Gill's Ornithology textbook]

Haskell, D. G. 1991. Mating Preferences. Nature  352: 26. [Scientific Commentary]