Dr. Paul Opler, a special appointment professor at Colorado State University (CSU), was elected as an ESA Fellow in 2018. He his best known for his research on insect host relationships of Lepidoptera and tropical ecology and his service as first editor of American Entomologist.
Opler was born in 1938 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and raised in Michigan and northern California. He received his B.A. in entomology from the University of California, Berkeley in 1960. Paul continued his education in 1963 at San Jose State University with an M.A. in biological sciences in 1965. He returned to Berkeley and received his Ph.D. in entomology in 1970. After graduation he was a research associate with the Organization for Tropical Studies in Costa Rica until 1974, after which he was hired by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as the first entomologist in the Endangered Species Program. He retired from the government in 1997 after which he was hired as a special appointment professor in the Department of Bioagricultural Sciences at CSU in 1998.
Opler's major career accomplishments have centered on his intense interest in Lepidoptera and have resulted in major publications on the species-area effects on leaf-miner species richness of host oak geographic distributions in California as evidenced by highly significant log species versus log host regressions. This should have major effects on the way that economically important crops and their herbivore and parasitoid communities are managed. His books include field guides to both eastern and western butterflies, his contribution to Moths of Western North America, and his role as scientific editor of "Status and Trends of our Nation's Biological Resources." At CSU, Opler has been major advisor or co-advisor to four students who have completed their advanced degrees. He has given many lectures on Lepidoptera systematics to undergraduate and graduate classes, has helped build the C.P. Gillette Museum of Arthropod Diversity, and is currently active in helping build a library of genomic DNA for North American butterflies.
Opler's major service to the ESA has been his role in serving as first editor of American Entomologist and in helping with the enduring format for its contents with significant input from past ESA President W. Donald Duckworth. Paul also served as chair of ESA's Section A.
Opler has been married twice, first to Sandra Sue Segler (1940-1992) and Evi Maria Lang (1950-). His three children are Tim C., David C., and Laura Maria. His hobbies include birding, traveling, genealogy, and paleoanthropology.
(updated August, 2018)