John Pickering
Sam Houston State Natural History Collections, Huntsville, Texas
and Odum School of Ecology, University of Georgia, Athens
cell phone: 706-254-7446
email:; skype: johnpick69
Updated: 1 March, 2023

  • Harvard University, Biology, A.M. 1976; Ph.D. 1980
  • University of Illinois, Honors Biology, B.S. 1973 (high departmental & university honors)

Appointments and Professional Experience

  • Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas -- Senior Research Scientist
    • Sam Houston State Natural History Collections, 2017-present
  • University of Georgia, Athens -- Faculty member
    • Emeritus, 2017-present
    • Odum School/Institute of Ecology, 1994-2016
    • Department of Entomology, 1984-95
    • Institute of Bioinformatics, member, 2006-16
  • University of California, Berkeley
    • Postgraduate Research Entomologist, Div. of Biological Control, 1982-84
    • Research Associate, Div. of Entomology & Parasitology, 1981-82
    • Miller Postdoctoral Fellow, Dept. of Entomological Sciences, 1979-81


  • Colors of Science Art Contest, National Council for Science and the Environment, 2020
       1st place in photography for How many species do you see?
  • Green Champion, Go Green Alliance, University of Georgia, 2010
       SMART initiative for outstanding efforts related to sustainability (
  • Mellon Senior Research Fellowship, 1996-98
       Organization for Tropical Studies, Costa Rica
       Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama
  • Outstanding Upper Division Advisor Award, University of Georgia, 1996
  • Special Sandy Beaver Award for Teaching Excellence, University of Georgia, 1994
  • Outstanding Conference Paper Presentation, GRASS Users Conference, Berkeley, 1991
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, Miller Institute for Basic Research in Science, 1979-81
  • Predoctoral Fellowship, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, 1976-77
  • Richmond Fellow, Harvard University, 1974-79
  • Bronze Tablet, University of Illinois, 1973


My goal is to understand changes in the diversity, abundance, distribution and dispersal of all living things across local to global scales. Clearly, I cannot accomplish this alone. Hence, the advent of Discover Life ( -- a website that enables scientists, students and volunteers to work together, study biodiversity and share information on a grand scale. For over a decade my almost single-minded passion was to build this interactive encyclopedia. Currently it and its partner databases provide information on 1.3 million species. Its online tools include a global mapper that enables users to compare the distribution of 686,000 species across geographic scales. Since inception Discover Life has served 4.3 billion pages and images to 40 million IP address. In 2016, it served information to an average of 749,000 IP address monthly.

I am broadly trained as a biologist. In addition to natural history research, I have worked in public health and agriculture. My field methods include comparative inventories across tropical and temperate sites and long-term monitoring of populations and communities in response to environmental and experimental changes. My current focus is Mothing ( We have taken over 600,000 photographs of moths at lights to document how communities change seasonally and across years in response to changes in weather patterns, land-use, air quality, and other variables.

Discover Life builds interactive guides to identify species, integrates databases so that web users can easily map and share information, and pioneers barcode technology to track museum specimens. I started programming computers in 1972 and have considerable experience in designing, building and running systems. My forte is using unix, perl scripts and natural language processing to automate the integration of databases from disparate sources and to serve them in composite pages on the web.

In 1991, my collaborators, students and I started the Insect Diversity Project to quantify how climate, biogeography, habitat type, disturbance, land-use and landscape fragmentation affect species abundance, diversity and trophic interactions within ecosystems. We collected over 300 trap-years of insect samples from 12 tropical and 8 temperate sites in the New World. Don Windsor and I collected weekly Malaise trap samples from Barro Colorado Island, Panama, from June, 1992 to October, 2013. In total my collection includes 300,000 pinned insects. By modelling data across sites, we hope to answer how seasonality, El Niño cycles and other large-scale factors affect community structure and diversity in time and space.

In 1997, I co-founded the Great Smoky Mountains National Park's All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory -- a comprehesive study of species in the park. In 1998, I began Discover Life to support biodiversity studies and serve as a general portal to natural history information. In 2002, I co-founded the Polistes Foundation (, the mission of which is to assemble and share knowledge about nature in order to improve education, health, agriculture, economic development, and conservation throughout the world. In 2007, I co-founded the International Center for Public Health and Environmental Research (PHER, to help advance our research and educational goals. PHER now has an international team of 80 associated scientists. At the end of 2016 I "retired" from the University of Georgia, started Save All Species (, and am now splitting my time between Georgia and Sam Houston State University in Texas to advance Mothing and this conservation initiative. For fun I am now working on a book of poems, photographing still life, and studying the underworld.


  • All Species Foundation, Advisor, 2000-2004
  • American Museum of Natural History, Visiting Scientist (, 2009-2016
  • Biodiversity Science & Education Initiative, Smithsonian Institution, Executive Committee, 2005-2007
  • CONABIO -- National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity of Mexico, Scientific Advisory Committee, 2011-present
  • Discover Life in America, Board of Directors, 1998-2002; Chairman, 1998-1999
  • Encyclopedia of Life, Smithsonian Institution, Steering Committee, 2004-2005
  • E. O. Wilson Foundation, Technical advisor, 2007-present
  • Georgia ForestWatch, Board of Directors, 2000-2002
  • Harvard University, Schools and Scholarships Committee member, 2008-2012
  • Lion Conservation Fund (, Board of Directors, 2005-2008
  • National Moth Week (, Science Advisory Board, 2012-2015
  • Polistes Corporation, President, 1999-present
  • Polistes Foundation (, President & CEO, 2002-present

Recent Support (see

  • Polistes Foundation. Since 2002 this non-profit has raised $2.77 million, of which $2.17 million supported Discover Life and its related science, education, and outreach activities.
  • Pickering, John. 2016. Crowdsourcing tool to identify and count sea birds. US Fish and Wildlife Service. Sea, birds.
  • Hill, Robert. 2011. Liking lichens (and other biota): applying ecological knowledge to Georgia's performance standards in science. Improving Teacher Quality State Grant Title II, Part A of Public Law 107-110, the "No Child Left Behind Act".
  • Ascher, J. and J. Rosen. 2010. Collaborative Research: Collaborative Databasing of North American Bee Collections Within a Global Informatics Network. National Science Foundation, Division of Biological Infrastructure. (
  • Pickering, John. 2010. Web tools to identify, report, and map invasive species. 5-year Cooperative Agreement between USGS-NBII and the Polistes Foundation. (
  • Losey, J., L. Allee, L. Hesler, M. Catangui and J. Pickering. 2008. Have you spotted me: Learning lessons by looking for ladybugs. National Science Foundation, Informal Science Education. (
  • Pickering, J. 2005. The development and continuing service-support of online systems for the shorefishes of the Tropical Eastern Pacific and the Greater Caribbean. Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama.
  • Pickering, J. 2004. Web tools to identify, report, and map invasive species in North America. 5-year Cooperative Agreement between USGS-NBII and the Polistes Foundation.
  • Pickering, J. 2003. Equipment grant in support of Discover Life. Sun Microsystems, Inc.
  • Pickering, J. 2003. Web identification guides and maps of North American Invasive Species. National Biological Information Infrastructure, U. S. Geological Survey.
  • Pickering, J. 2002. Web-based bee identification guide. Biological Resources Division, U. S. Geological Survey.
  • Pickering, J., B. Scholtens, R. Turner, D. Wagner & K. Yatskievych. 2002. Web-based identification guides for common North American butterflies, moths, caterpillars, wildflowers, and invasive species. National Biological Information Infrastructure, U. S. Geological Survey.
  • Pickering, J. & E. L. Skillen. 1997-2002. Diversity of parasitic wasps in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
  • Pickering, J. & M. J. Sharkey. 1996-2001. Diversity and trophic interactions of parasitic wasps (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonoidea) in tropical lowland forests. Mellon Fellowship. Organization for Tropical Studies and Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.
  • Pickering, J. et al. 1998-1999. A community science, technology, and education partnership to increase minority student participation in the study of natural history in national parks. The National Park Service. (
  • Coley, P. D. & J. Pickering. 1998-1999. The regulation of herbivores by the third trophic level: an El Niño experiment. Ecological Studies Program, The National Science Foundation.
  • Pickering J. 1995-1997. Calibration of Malaise traps for studying insect diversity. Biotic Surveys and Inventories Program, The National Science Foundation.

Selected Publications
Impact factor:

Other Publications
  • Pickering, J., L. L. Getz and G. S. Whitt. 1974. An esterase phenotype correlated with dispersal in Microtus. Trans. Illinois State Acad. Sci. 67:471-475.
  • Pickering, J. 1980. Sex ratio, social behavior and ecology in Polistes (Hymenoptera, Vespidae), Pachysomoides (Hymenoptera, Ichneumonidae) and Plasmodium (Protozoa, Haemosporida). Ph.D. thesis, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 362 pp.
  • Guerrero, S. and J. Pickering. 1984. Malaria survey in Anolis lizards of Puerto Rico. J. Parasitology 70: 162-164.
  • Hochberg, M. E., J. Pickering and W. M. Getz. 1986. Evaluation of phenology models using field data: case study for the pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum, and the blue alfalfa aphid, Acyrthosiphon kondoi (Homoptera: Aphididae). Environmental Entomology 15: 227-231.
  • Padian, N. and J. Pickering. 1986. Female-to-male transmission of AIDS: A reexamination of the African sex ratio of cases. J. American Medical Association 256: 590.
  • Diederiks, H. A., E. A. Pantelides, R. J. Lawless, I. J. Seccombe, W. Lutz, A. Chahnazarian, N. Padian, J. Pickering, N. M. Shah, R. N. Kearney and B. D. Miller. 1986. [The choice of a marriage partner in Amsterdam at the beginning of the nineteenth century]. Annales de Demographie Historique 1: 183-194.
  • Pickering, J., J. D. Dutcher and B. S. Ekbom. 1989. An epizootic caused by Erynia neoaphidis and Erynia radicans (Zygomycetes: Entomophthoraceae) on Acyrthosiphon (Homoptera: Aphididae) on legumes under overhead irrigation. J. Applied Entomology 107: 331-333.
  • Pickering, J., D. W. Ross and W. C. Berisford. 1989. An automated system for timing insecticidal sprays for Nantucket pine tip moth control. Southern J. Applied Forestry 13: 185-187.
  • Ross, D. W., J. Pickering, J. D. Berg and W. C. Berisford. 1989. Mapping Nantucket pine tip moth (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) development in Georgia. J. Entomological Sci. 24: 405-412.
  • Pickering, J., J. D. Dutcher and B. S. Ekbom. 1990. The effect of a fungicide on fungal induced mortality of pecan aphids (Homoptera: Aphididae) in the field. J. Economic Entomology 83: 1801-1805.
  • Pickering, J., W. W. Hargrove, J. D. Dutcher and H C Ellis. 1990. RAIN: A novel approach to computer-aided decision making in agriculture and forestry. Computers and Electronics in Agriculture 4: 275-285.
  • van de Laar, M. J. W., J. A. R. van den Hoek, J. Pickering, G. J. P. van Griensven, R. A. Coutinho and H. P. A. van de Water. 1990. Dalende trend van gonorroe in Nederland: betekinis voor de AIDS-epidemic? Nederlands Tijdscrift Geneeskunde 134: 647-652.
  • van de Laar, M. J. W., J. Pickering, J. A. R. van den Hoek, G. J. P. van Griensven, R. A. Coutinho and H. P. A. van de Water. 1990. Declining gonorrhea rates in The Netherlands, 1976-1988; Evidence for the AIDS epidemic? Genitourinary Medicine 66: 148-155.
  • Ekbom, B. S. and J. Pickering. 1990. Pathogenic fungal dynamics in a fall population of the blackmargined aphid (Monellia caryella). Entomol. exp. et appl. 57: 29-37.
  • Pickering, J. and A. P. Gutierrez. 1991. Differential impact of the pathogen Pandora neoaphidis (R. & H.) Humber (Zygomycetes: Entomophthorales) on the species composition of Acyrthosiphon aphids in alfalfa. Canadian Entomologist 123: 315-320.
  • Holzman, S., M. J. Conroy and J. Pickering. 1992. Home Range, movements, and habitat use of coyotes in southcentral Georgia. J. Wildlife Management 56: 139-146.
  • Pearson, S. M., J. M. Walsh, and J. Pickering. 1992. Wood stork use of wetland habitats around Cumberland Island, Georgia, U.S.A. Colonial Waterbirds 15:33-42.
  • Camann, M. A., A. K. Culbreath, J. Pickering, J. W. Todd and J. W. Demski. 1995. Spatial and temporal patterns of spotted wilt epidemics in peanut. Phytopathology 85: 879-885.
  • Gaasch, C. M., J. Pickering and C. T. Moore. 1998. Flight phenology of parasitic wasps (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae) in Georgia's piedmont. Environmental Entomology 27:606-614.
  • Pickering, J. 1999. Discover Life in America & the database needs of the All-Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI) of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Metadiversity - The Call for Community. Pages 51-56 in Proceedings of the U. S. Geological Survey Biological Resources Division & the National Federation of Abstracting & Information Services Symposium, November, 1998, Natural Bridge, Virginia.
  • Shapiro, B. A. and J. Pickering. 2000. Rainfall and parasitic wasp (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonoidea) activity in successional forest stages at Barro Colorado Nature Monument, Panama and La Selva Biological Station, Costa Rica. Agricultural and Forest Entomology 2:39-47.
  • Skillen, E. L., J. Pickering and M. J. Sharkey. 2000. Species richness of the Campopleginae and Ichneumoninae (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae) along a latitudinal gradient in eastern North American old-growth forests. Environmental Entomology 29: 460-466.
  • Kaspari, M., J. Pickering and D. Windsor. 2001. The reproductive flight phenology of a Neotropical ant assemblage. Ecological Entomology 26: 245-257.
  • Pickering, J., K. Smith, G. Cotter, A. Simpson, R. Magill and E. McNierney. 2006. Global Mapper. International Biogeography Society, news report, March, 2006. (
  • M. von Konrat, A. Hagborg, L. Söderström, J. Mutke, M. Renner, S. R. Gradstein, J. Engel, R. -L. Zhu and J. Pickering. 2008. Early land plants today: global patterns of liverwort diversity, distribution, and floristic knowledge. In: Mohamed H., B. B. Baki, A. Nasrulhaq-Boyce and P. K. Y. Lee (eds.), Bryology in the New Millennium. Kuala Lumpur: University of Malaya, pp. 425-438. (,_2008.pdf)
  • Pickering, J. 2009. Database of Hymenoptera in America north of Mexico.
    Proceedings of Life
  • Mueller, M. P. and J. Pickering. 2010. Bee Hunt! Ecojustice in practice for Earth's buzzing biodiversity. Science Activities, 47(4): 151-159.
  • Ascher, J. S. and J. Pickering. 2010. World Bee Diversity -- Interactive checklists of world bees by country
  • Pickering, J. 2010. Identification guide and illustrated checklist of the moths of North America north of Mexico. Discover Life electronic publication (
  • Ascher, J. S. and J. Pickering. 2011. Bee species guide (Hymenoptera: Apoidea: Anthophila)
    and World Checklist of Bees (
  • Coyle, D.R., J. Pickering, K. A. Dyer, F. R. Lehman, J. E. Mohan and K. J. K. Gandhi. 2013. Dynamics of an unprecedented outbreak of two native moth species, Cissusa spadix and Phoberia atomaris (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), on oak trees (Quercus spp.) in southeastern U.S.A. American Entomologist 59: 78-90. Feature Article.
  • Farnsworth, E. J., M. Chu, J. W. Kress, A. K. Neill, J. H. Best, J. Pickering, R. D. Stevenson, G. W. Courtney, J. K. VanDyk and A. M. Ellison. 2013. Next-generation field guides. BioScience: 891-899.
  • Pickering, J. 2015. Find your dark side: invitation to join Discover Life's Mothing project. Southern Lepidopterists' News 37(4): 204-208.
  • Ascher, J. S. and J. Pickering. 2015. Bee species guide (Hymenoptera: Apoidea: Anthophila)
    and World Checklist of Bees (
  • Pickering, J. 2016. Why fly now? Pupa banks, aposematism, and other factors that may explain observed moth flight activity. Southern Lepidopterists' News 38(1): 67-72.
  • Pickering, J. and T. Staples. 2016. How to sample moth diversity efficiently in a seasonal environment. Southern Lepidopterists' News 38 (2):142-147.
  • Pickering, J., D. Madamba, T. Staples and R. Walcott. 2016. Status of moth diversity and taxonomy: a comparison between Africa and North America north of Mexico. Southern Lepidopterists' News 38 (3):241-248.
  • Pickering, J., T. Staples and R. Walcott. 2016. Save all species -- Moths light a way? Southern Lepidopterists' News 38 (4):331-336.
  • Pickering, J. and A. Cherkinsky. 2017. Novel use of 14C bomb-pulse to measure how many years saturniid moths spend as pupae. The 14th International Conference on Accelerator Mass Spectrometry, abstract 75763.
  • Shankar, S., D. Sheldon, T. Sun, J. Pickering, T.G. Dietterich. 2019. Three-quarter sibling regression for denoising observational data. Proceedings 28th International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI-19):5960-5966.
  • Lázaro, Amparo, Andreas Müller, Andreas W. Ebmer, Holger H. Dathe, Erwin Scheuchl, Maximilian Schwarz, Stephan Risch, Alain Pauly, Jelle Devalez, Thomas Tscheulin, Carmelo Gómez‐Martínez, Evangelos Papas, John Pickering, Nickolas M Waser, Theodora Petanidou. 2021. Impacts of beekeeping on wild bee diversity and pollination networks in the Aegean Archipelago Ecography 44 (9), 1353-1365
  • Pickering, J. 2022. Spirits of Nature: An introduction to the variation in the apparent faces on the thoraxes of the Texas Gray, Glenoides taxanaria (Lepidoptera: Geometridae). Southern Lepidopterists' News 44 (3):346-347. pdf

Chapters in Books

  • Pickering, J., J. A. Wiley, N. S. Padian, L. E. Lieb, D. F. Echenberg and J. Walker. 1987. Modeling the incidence of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York. Pages 661-688 in M. Witten (ed.), Mathematical Models in Medicine, Diseases and Epidemics, Pergamon Press, New York. (Reprinted from Pickering et al., 1986.)
  • Pickering, J. 1988. Epidemiology. Pages 126-129 in S. P. Parker (ed.), McGraw-Hill Yearbook of Science and Technology 1989. McGraw-Hill, New York.
  • Pickering, J., J. A. Wiley, L. E. Lieb, J. Walker and G. Rutherford. 1988. Modelling the incidence of AIDS in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Pages 38-51 in H. C. Jager and E. J. Ruitenberg (eds.), The Statistical Analysis and Mathematical Modelling of AIDS, Proceedings EC Workshop Bilthoven 1986, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  • Hargrove, W. W., J. Balsdon-Wise and J. Pickering. 1991. Developing a wetness-based fungicide schedule for the control of pecan scab, Cladosporium caryigenum (Ell. Et Lang.) Gottwald at multiple sites using the Remote Automated Intelligence Network, RAIN. Pages 107-120 in B. W. Wood and J. A. Payne (eds.), First National Pecan Workshop. Pecan Husbandry: Challenges and Opportunities. U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Agriculture Research Service, ARS-96.
  • Pickering, J., R. Kays, A. Meier, S. Andrew and K. Yatskievych. 2002. The Appalachians. Pages 458-467 in P. R. Gil, R. A. Mittermeier, C. G. Mittermeier, J. Pilgrim, G. Fonseca, W. R. Konstant and T. Brooks (eds.), Wilderness -- Earth's Last Wild Places. Conservational International. (

  • Loescher, H. W. et al. 2015. Towards building global interoperable environmental data. Nature Climate Change (pending final revisions).
Theses Directed

  • Ayoub, Nadia A. 1999. Nocturnal and diurnal parasitoid (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) activity in the forest canopy and understory on Barro Colorado Island, Panama. Senior honors thesis, Univ. of Georgia, Athens.
  • Bartlett, Ryan P. 1997. Diversity, phenology, and sex ratio of Pimplinae (Hymenoptera:Ichneumonidae) on Barro Colorado Island, Panama. Senior honors thesis, Univ. of Georgia, Athens, 63pp.
  • Bartlett, R. P. 2000. Efficiency of collection methods and flight activity of Ichneumonidae (Hymenoptera) in three sites in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. M. S. thesis, Univ. of Georgia, Athens, 59pp. (
  • Crawford, Kelly B. 1994. Biodiversity, abundance, and distribution of Rogadinae (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) in a Panamanian tropical forest and North American temperate habitats. Senior honors thesis, Univ. of Georgia, Athens, 69pp.
  • Eckman, Hans J. 1992. Male selection in the treefrogs Hyla chrysoscelis and versicolor. Senior honors thesis, Univ. of Georgia, Athens, 30pp.
  • Gaasch, Christine M. 1996. Flight phenology and species distribution of parasitic wasps in a heterogeneous landscape in Georgia's piedmont, with special reference to the Ichneumoninae and Campopleginae (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae). M. S. thesis, Univ. of Georgia, Athens, 200pp.
  • Kay, Melanie J. 1994. Estimating the biodiversity of Rogas (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) in a tropical moist forest in Panama using Malaise and light trap samples. Senior honors thesis, Univ. of Georgia, Athens, 61pp.
  • Lockard, Elizabeth I. 1995. Biodiversity and geographic distributions of parasitic Hymenoptera (Ichneumonidae: Campopleginae and Ichneumoninae) along a latitudinal gradient in eastern North America. M. S. thesis, Univ. of Georgia, Athens, 233pp.
  • McGowan, Amy L. 1996. Diversity and seasonality of Aleiodes and Rogas (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) in two Panamanian forests. Senior honors thesis, Univ. of Georgia, Athens, 103pp.
  • Middleton, Sarah M. 1994. Species richness and abundance of sawflies (Hymenoptera: Symphyta) in different habitats along a latitudinal gradient from Panama to Canada. Senior honors thesis, Univ. of Georgia, Athens, 53pp.
  • Shapiro, Beth A. 1999. Rainfall and parasitic wasp (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonoidea) activity in successional stages of two Neotropical forests: Barro Colorado Nature Monument, Panama. and La Selva Biological Station, Costa Rica. M. S. thesis, Univ. of Georgia, Athens, 164pp.
  • Skillen, Elizabeth I. 2002. Diversity of parasitic Hymenoptera (Ichneumonidae: Campopleginae and Ichneumoninae) in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and eastern North American forests. Ph.D. thesis, Univ. of Georgia, Athens, 178pp.
  • Wayman, Linda D. 1994. Spatial distribution and sex ratios of parasitic Hymenoptera (Ichneumonidae: Campopleginae and Ichneumoninae; Braconidae: Aphidius ervi) in a disturbed Georgia piedmont landscape. M. S. thesis, Univ. of Georgia, Athens, 123pp.
  • Wright, Lisa M. 1995. Seasonality of the Ichneumonoidea and alate Formicidae in a tropical moist forest at Barro Colorado Island, Panama. Senior honors thesis, Univ. of Georgia, Athens, 85pp.