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Charles Van Riper, III, Ph.D.

Charles van Riper III grew up observing the wildlife and resulting in a lifelong love of nature. He earned obtaining a B.S. in Zoology and a M.Ed. in Science from Colorado State University where he became intensely interested in Hawaiian birds. He later moved to the island of Hawaii to teach biology at the Hawaii Preparatory Academy (HPA) and to study Hawaiian birds.

Charles’ doctoral research, under the guidance of Dr. Andrew J. Berger at the University of Hawaii (UH), was on two endangered species of Hawaiian native birds (honeycreepers). While working as a post-doctoral researcher with Dr. Clifford Smith in the UH Botany Department, Charles met his wife, Sandra Jean Guest, a fellow ornithology graduate student. Together, they elucidated the complex system of introduced diseases on native Hawaiian birds.

At the University of California, Davis, Charles started the first California Cooperative Parks Studies Unit and began his 20-year career with the National Park Service. In 1989, the National Park Service asked Charles to initiate another Cooperative Parks Studies Unit at Northern Arizona University, in Flagstaff, Arizona. Dr. van Riper built this unit from one individual to a team of 42 researchers, who solved natural resources problems throughout the Colorado Plateau and the southwestern United States. In 2003, Charles was again invited to assist with a university-based research station, this time with the Sonoran Desert Research Station at the University of Arizona (UA) in Tucson, Arizona. Today, he serves as a ST Research Ecologist, SDRS Station Leader, and Professor in the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Resources in the UA School of Natural Resources.

Professional societies/affiliations/committees/editorial boards

  • American Ornithologists' Union
  • California Field Ornithologists
  • Cooper Ornithological Society
  • Ecological Society of America
  • George Wright Society
  • Hawaii Audubon Society
  • Natural Areas Association
  • Raptor Research Foundation
  • Sigma Xi
  • Society for Conservation Biology
  • Western Bird-banding Association
  • Wilson Ornithological Society
  • Wildlife Disease Association
  • Wildlife Society


  • Colorado River Plateau: Cultural, Biological, and Physical Research - the book, published by UA Press

Articles on these subjects are available on Dr. Riper's personal website:

  • Yellow-Billed Cuckoo
  • Wildlife of Africa at Venetia Limpopo & Silkaatskop
  • Status of Breeding and Wintering Birds
  • Bald Eagle Abundance and Relationships to prey base and human activity along the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
  • West Nile Virus Presentation