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Phil Unitt
fax: 619.232.0248

Photo of Phil Unitt studying birds, 2000 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:

Unitt, P. 1981. Birds of Hot Springs Mountain, San Diego County, California. Western Birds 12:125-135.

Unitt, P. 1984. The Birds of San Diego County. San Diego Society of Natural History Memoir 13: i-xxiv, 1-276.

Unitt, P. 1987. Empidonax traillii extimus: An endangered subspecies. Western Birds 18:137-162. Presented at Symposium on Management of Endangered Birds in Riparian Ecosystems, Cooper Ornithological Society meeting, Davis, September 1986.

Patten, M. A., P. Unitt, R. A. Erickson, and K. F. Campbell. 1995. Fifty years since Grinnell and Miller: Where is California ornithology headed? Western Birds 26:54-64.

Unitt, P., A. M. Rea, E. Palacios, E. Mellink B., L. Alfaro, and S. González. 1995. Noteworthy records of birds in northwestern Baja California, Mexico. Western Birds 26:144-154.

Unitt, P., and R. Rodriguez E. 1996. Winter distribution of Hermit Thrush subspecies in the Sierra de La Laguna, Baja California Sur. Western Birds 27:65-69.

Unitt, P., K. Messer, and M. Théry. 1996. Taxonomy of the Marsh Wren in southern California. Proceedings of the San Diego Society of Natural History 31:1-20.

Mundy, N. I., P. Unitt, and D. S. Woodruff. 1997. Skin from feet of museum specimens as a non-destructive source of DNA for avian genotyping. Auk 114:126-129.

C. Kuehler, A. Lieberman, A. Varney, R. M. Sulpice, J. Azua, P. Unitt, and B. Tehevini. 1997. Translocation of Ultramarine Lories Vini ultramarina in the Marquesas Islands: Ua Huka to Fatu Hiva. Bird Conservation International 7:69-79.

Unitt, P., and A. M. Rea. 1997. Taxonomy of the Brown Creeper in California. Pp. 177-185 in The Era of Allan R. Phillips: A Festschrift (Robert W. Dickerman, compiler), Horizon Publ., Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Pyle, P., and P. Unitt. 1998. Molt and plumage variation by age and sex in the California and Black-tailed Gnatcatchers. Western Birds 29:280-289. Presented at "CalGnat 95," a symposium on the biology of the California Gnatcatcher, University of California, Riverside, 15-16 September 1995.