Biography of Donald James Buckle
by Robert Holmberg, Athabasca University
In October 2004, Donald James Buckle was given the Carr Award at a joint meeting of the Entomological Society of Alberta and the Entomological Society of Saskatchewan in Lloydminster. The award was made for his contributions to spider taxonomy and identification.

Don was born in January 1947 in Preeceville, Saskatchewan. He grew up and attended elementary school in the hamlet of Lady Lake. For Grades 9 to 12, he was bused about 25 km to Sturgis Composite High School. Between 1964 and 1966, he attended the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.

Don has had a varied employment history, mostly in Saskatoon. In 1965-66, he identified mosquitoes for a Western Encephalitis Project at the University of Saskatchewan. After dropping out from university, he worked for the Canadian National Railway along with his father. Between 1971 and 1974, he worked on various short-term projects at the University of Saskatchewan. These projects included work associated with the International Biological Program and the vertebrate museum. For several years, he worked for a photography business, Gibson Studios. In 1979-80, he was a "script girl" for a small company that had a contract with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to produce three films for the government of the Northwest Territories. In 1980, he started working at Burnett's Key Shop and in 1982 he, and another employee, bought the business. This business now supports five families, including Don's.

Don's spider collecting started in 1961. In 1963, between Grades 10 and 11, he got a summer job with the arachnologists Albert Turnbull and Charles Dondale at the centre for biological control, Bellville, Ontario. While he was completing Grade 12, he was also completing his first scientific publication on spiders. To date, his publishing record is summarized in the following table.

Type of publication Spider topics Other topics
papers 14 3
reports 4 -
conference abstracts 2 2
editing 1 -

Don has several current projects, including preparing the linyphid section of "Spiders of North America" and an annotated checklist of the spiders of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Don really knows spider taxonomy. Because of his ability to detect differences within species groups, Don has two spiders named after him. In 1972 Norman Platnick who was then at the American Museum of Natural History described Ebo bucklei. In 1975 Torbjörn Kroensted of the Swedish Museum of Natural History described Pardosa bucklei.

Don helped several graduate students with their spider identifications. The following list includes six students from Alberta, two from Saskatchewan and one from British Columbia.

  • Héctor Cárcamo, University of Calgary
  • Erin Kinsella, University of Calgary
  • Chris Buddle, University of Alberta
  • Alice Graham, University of Alberta
  • Lusi Korinus, University of Alberta
  • David Shorthouse, University of Alberta
  • Robert Holmberg, University of Saskatchewan
  • Jeanette Pepper, University of Regina
  • Neville Winchester, University of Victoria

Several researchers from several institutions have benefited from Don's expertise. The following are two lists of Don's collaborators and their institutions at the time the work was done.

  • Charles Dondale and Jim Redner, Agriculture Canada, Ottawa
  • Bert Fennimore, Alberta Provincial Museum, Edmonton
  • Lee Humble, Canadian Forestry Service, Vancouver Island
  • Dan Johnson, Canada Agriculture, Lethbridge
  • Robin Leech, Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, Edmonton
  • Steve Marshall and B.J. Sinclair, University of Guelph
  • Wane Nordstrom and Ted Johnson, Alberta Community Development, Parks and Protected Areas Division, Edmonton
  • Ken Pivnick, consultant, Saskatoon
  • Bob Randell, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon
  • Keith Roney and Ron Hooper, Royal Saskatchewan Museum, Regina

Foreign collaborators:

  • James Cokendolpher, Lubbock, Texas
  • Rod Crawford, Burke Museum, Seattle, Washington
  • gustavo Hormiga, George Washington University, Washington, D.C.
  • Yuri Marsuik, Magaden, Russia
  • Vince Roth and Devon Carroll, American Museum of Natural History, Portal, Arizona
  • Nikolaj Scharff, Zoological Museum, Denmark

When I was preparing this nomination, I asked for support from a few of the people who worked with Don. Here are some of their comments:

"I am delighted to see Don Buckle's nomination . . . He fully deserves this recognition as he has been instrumental to many arachnology students wrestling with identifications . . . I was very grateful for his very prompt determinations while I studied spiders at the U of C." - Héctor Cárcamo

"Don Buckle has been incredibly helpful to me, right from my first forays into spider taxonomy . . . and since then has had an important role in virtually all spider-projects I have worked on. He verified many of my identifications . . . but he also assisted greatly with my ecological work on Pardosa life-history, as Don has also great expertise and wisdom in this field of arachnology. . . I have always felt honoured to interact with Don, and he very much deserves the recognition." - Chris Buddle

"Wonderful idea. I support it fully." - Robin Leech

"[Don Buckle] is, in my opinion, an ideal candidate." - John Spence

On a personal note, I have known Don since high school. It has been a privilege and a pleasure to call him both a friend and a colleague. Don is what I call a "professional amateur". He does not have an academic degree but he does have the knowledge and abilities of any respected biologist. Don has contributed significantly to science through his personal research and through his help to many researchers. He is well deserving of this recognition.

Updated: February 6, 2006