Whitley Awards 2020: Australasian zoological literature on show

October 29th, 2020

The Royal Zoological Society of NSW Whitley Awards are an annual celebration of the best of Australasian zoological literature. This year, we are thrilled to announce that Hawkmoths of Australia has been awarded the prestigious Whitley Medal.
The cover of the book Hawkmoths of Australia, with the Whitley Medal award logo, upon a background illustration of fireworks.

Hawkmoths of Australia is the winner of the Whitley Medal in the 2020 Royal Zoological Society of NSW Whitley Awards.


Each year, the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales presents the Whitley Awards, recognising outstanding publications that help increase our understanding of Australasian wildlife. The awards are named in tribute to Gilbert Whitley, an eminent ichthyologist and former Curator of Fishes at the Australian Museum, Sydney.

Cover of Hawkmoths of Australia, featuring a moth with brown and orange wings, set against a white and green background.

Hawkmoths of Australia


We are delighted to announce that in 2020, our book Hawkmoths of Australia: Identification, Biology and Distribution has been awarded the top prize: the prestigious Whitley Medal.

Hawkmoths of Australia is Volume 13 in our long-running Monographs on Australian Lepidoptera series, which profiles the systematics and biology of the vast Australian fauna of moths and butterflies. Illustrated with more than 800 colour photographs, Hawkmoths of Australia provides the first full treatment of Australian hawkmoths, and includes many new details on life histories and parasitoids.


Co-authors Maxwell Moulds, James Tuttle and David Lane were delighted about the win:

“It is a great honour for us to have received the prestigious Whitley Medal for 2020, especially given the level of competition across the broad range of zoological topics. Hawkmoths have been a special interest to all of us throughout our lives, and the book gave the opportunity to not only document our life experiences with these iconic moths but to add new and exciting discoveries as we went. The project also offered the opportunity for each us to explore Australia, the tropical north, the deserts, and the temperate south, and make many friends along the way.

“Writing this book had its challenges and there are many people to be thanked for helping making it a success, all acknowledged in the book, but the editors are especially thanked. Winning the Whitley Medal has been the ‘icing on the cake’ for us, humbling, exciting, and giving a feeling of pride and accomplishment.”



Instead of the usual ceremony at the Australian Museum, Sydney, the Royal Zoological Society of NSW presented the Whitley Awards in a virtual capacity this year, due to COVID-19 restrictions. You can watch a video of Maxwell, James and David’s Whitley Medal acceptance speech on Youtube (external link).


Dr Marianne Horak, editor of the Monographs on Australian Lepidoptera series, said of the win:

“The Whitley Medal is a wonderful accolade for the three authors for their exceptional dedication that went into producing Hawkmoths of Australia, from lifetimes of observation, collecting, rearing and photography to painstaking descriptions of all stages and assemblage of the magnificent plates. It honours a book that will provide inspiration and information for generations of naturalists.”


Certificates of Commendation

The Royal Zoological Society of NSW Whitley Awards also present Certificates of Commendation each year to recognise excellence across the broad range of books that are nominated, from children’s books to field guides to highly specialised references.

We are delighted that the following CSIRO Publishing titles were awarded Certificates of Commendation in 2020:

Cover of Australian Beetles Volume 2, featuring 15 beetles of various shapes, colours and sizes in neat rows of five against a white background.


Australian Beetles Volume Two: Archostemata, Myxophaga, Adephaga, Polyphaga (part)
Edited by Adam Slipinski and John Lawrence

Cover of Saving the Tasmanian Devil featuring a photo of a Tasmanian devil standing on a tree stump at night.

Science & Conservation

Saving the Tasmanian Devil: Recovery through Science-based Management
Edited by Carolyn Hogg, Samantha Fox, David Pemberton and Katherine Belov

Cover of Frogs and Reptiles of the Murray–Darling Basin featuring photos of a frog, turtle, goanna and snake.

Field Guide

Frogs and Reptiles of the Murray–Darling Basin: A Guide to Their Identification, Ecology and Conservation
Written by Michael Swan

Cover of A Guide to Crickets of Australia, featuring a large photo of Cardiodactylus novaeguineae and smaller photos of three other crickets.

Invertebrate Field Guide

A Guide to Crickets of Australia
Written by David Rentz and You Ning Su

Cover of Cats in Australia featuring a crouching green-eyed cat glaring directly at the viewer.

Zoological Review

Cats in Australia: Companion and Killer
Written by John Woinarski, Sarah Legge and Chris Dickman

Cover of Windcatcher featuring a watercolour illustration of a short-tailed shearwater about to take flight.

Children’s Book

Windcatcher: Migration of the Short-tailed Shearwater
Written by Diane Jackson Hill and illustrated by Craig Smith


You can view the full list of Whitley Awards winning books on the Royal Zoological Society of NSW website (external link).


CSIRO Publishing would like to congratulate all our winning authors, as well as the authors and publishers of the other outstanding books recognised in the 2020 Whitley Awards. Thank you to the Royal Zoological Society of NSW for holding these awards, as well as the work they do in celebrating Australasian science writing.