Loss of an Invaluable Tiputini Founder and Champion
To put it simply, the Tiputini Biodiversity Station would not exist if not for the dedicated engagement and profound commitment of Dr. Thomas H. Kunz, an outstanding professor of biology at Boston University and globally renowned bat specialist. Tom was the singular voice who lent credibility to the idea of this remote field station; his endorsement literally converted a nebulous concept into a feasible project. From the very beginning back in 1993, Tom was involved in discussions about an interinstitutional collaboration, between USFQ and BU, and soon Kelly Swing would be assigned the task of actually choosing an appropriate site in Amazonian Ecuador. At the same time, we were talking about study-abroad programs that would receive students recruited through BU to learn about tropical nature in various ecosystems; TBS would turn out to be the rainforest site. Out of those conversations came the BU Tropical Ecology Program (TEP) which ran for 25 years and 47 semesters before COVID-19 changed everything. Tom personally recruited a huge portion of the hundreds of students who participated in the TEP during its first 15 years until his tragically early retirement in 2011. He was more than instrumental in acquiring funding for a new lab building as well as a series of canopy bridges. His contributions to Tiputini are innumerable; his contributions to science expansive; his kind and generous contributions to science education extended well beyond the minds of his students into the hearts of each and every one.
Unfortunately, Tom was an early victim of COVID-19 passing away at 81 on April 13, 2020. His legacy and memory are a blessing to all who care about nature and her creatures great and small.