Harold Heatwole FN, has had a life-long interest in amphibians and reptiles which took a professional turn with his Ph.D. training at the University of Michigan, where he prepared a thesis on habitat use by forest-floor amphibians. This comparative study took him to the rainforests of Venezuela where he developed an intense interest in tropical ecology. His desert research took him to the Central Australian, Namib, Kalahari, Atacama, Gobi, and Taklamakan deserts and participation for five seasons on an International Biological Programme study in the Sahara. His interests in coral reefs led him to the Presidency of the Great Barrier Reef Committee and Foundation President of the Australian Coral Reef Society, and eventually to a second Ph.D. (in Botany) from the University of Queensland on the dynamics of vegetation of islands of the Great Barrier Reef, as well as a third Ph.D. (in Geography) on distribution and geographic variation of sea kraits, from James Cook University. His interests in the Antarctic culminated in expeditions there and in a series of publications on polar tardigrades. During these other activities however, his interests in amphibians and reptiles continued and he served a term as President of the Australian Society of Herpetologists, and one as President of the Herpetologists’ League (USA). He also received a fourth doctorate, a D.Sc., from the University of New England for a treatise on ecological herpetology.

Professor Heatwole has a sustained interest in writing and editing, with 335 technical articles in scientific journals to his credit as well as six books: A Coral Island; Community Ecology of a Coral Cay; Dieback, Death of an Australian Landscape; Sea Snakes: Energetics of Desert Invertebrates; Ecology of Reptiles. He was editor of the Australian Journal of Ecology and has served on the editorial boards of Journal of Herpetology; Biotropica; Journal of Arid Environments; and Systematics and Biodiversity. He is editor of two series of books: Ecology in Australia (7 volumes) and Amphibian Biology, of which this is part of the eleventh volume. Currently he is Professor of Biology at North Carolina State University.