Purdue News

2005 Honorary Degree

L. David Mech
Doctor Of Agriculture

L. David Mech

L. David Mech has distinguished himself as the world’s foremost authority on the ecology of wolves.

He is a senior research scientist with the Biological Resources Division of the United States Geological Survey with the Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center, headquartered at the Raptor Center on the campus of the University of Minnesota. He lives in St. Paul, Minn., and is an adjunct professor in the Department of Ecology and Behavioral Biology and the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at UM.

Born in Auburn, N.Y., and raised in Syracuse, N.Y., Mech attended Cornell University, earning his bachelor of science degree in conservation in 1958, before coming to Purdue for four years as a research assistant and earning his doctorate in wildlife ecology in 1962. He moved on to become a research associate at the University of Minnesota for three years and an assistant professor and research associate at Macalester College for two years before joining the U.S. Geological Survey.

Mech’s primary research involves the study of wolf population trends and wolf-deer coactions in the Superior National Forest of Minnesota, wolf social behavior on Ellersmere Island in Canada, and wolf-elk interactions in Yellowstone National Park. His knowledge and expertise have been sought and shared with many countries, including India, Kenya, Sweden, Spain and the former Soviet Union.

Mech’s long-term studies of the wolf and other wild vertebrates have resulted in nearly 400 scientific, semi-technical and popular publications or articles. His scholarly contributions have expanded the understanding of wolf ecology more than any other individual. No one has written about, spoken of or debated the status and future of the wolf more than him. He has contributed to virtually every wolf conservation effort that the planet has seen in recent decades.

In recognition of his accomplishments, Mech was awarded the Wildlife Society’s highest honor in 1993, the Aldo Leopold Award. Purdue previously honored him as recipient of the Distinguished Agricultural Alumni Award in 1995 and the Distinguished Undergraduate Research Award in 2000.