Malcolm M. Furniss was awarded the 1998 Western Forest Insect Work Conference (WFIWC) Founders' Award.
Mal Furniss started his career with the USDA Forest Service in 1950, when he was hired by F. Paul Keen as a forester at the Forest Insect Lab in Berkeley, CA. While stationed at Berkeley (1950-1954) he focused on bark beetles; his responsibilities included conducting surveys, supervising control projects, measuring trees annually on risk-study plots at Black's Mountain Experimental Forest, training foresters to use the California Risk Rating System, maintaining the Hat Creek Field Station, and producing the annual insect conditions report. From 1954 to 1963 Furniss was an Entomologist with the Intermountain Forest Experiment Station in Ogden, UT and later Boise, ID; during this time he studied western spruce budworm, Douglas-fir beetle, and insects infesting bitterbrush.
In his final assignment with the Forest Service, Furniss was Principal Entomologist (1963-1982) and Project Leader (1969-1982) for the Intermountain Station in Moscow, ID, where he conducted research on western North American Scolytidae and insects on forest-related wildland shrubs such as mountain mahogany and willow. In 1982, Furniss was appointed Visiting Research Professor of Entomology and Affiliate Professor of Forest Resources, University of Idaho at Moscow, where he conducts research, teaches directed study courses, presents seminars and workshops, and advises graduate students.
Furniss has authored or coauthored over 90 manuscripts, and has published a field guide to Idaho bark beetles. He is an inventor (flight mill, bark punch, flight trap) and a distinguished photographer. His expertise in bark beetle identification is widely recognized, and he receives many requests for assistance with specimen identification.
Highlights of Mal Furniss's contributions to the field of forest entomology include his testing and development of the Douglas-fir beetle antiaggregative pheromone, his unique work on insects of forest-related wildland shrubs, his research on scolytid fauna and their associated organisms, and his diligence in seeking to preserve and publish records of the participants and photos pertaining to the early history of western forest entomology.
His leadership in research and development of MCH began with his discovery in 1971 of its antiaggregative effect. During the ensuing 11 years, he formed a cooperative endeavor that determined the optimum elution rate for protecting downed trees from attack and population release; developed and patented a 2% controlled-release granular formation and technology for applying it aerially; contracted EPA registration tests; and participated in a final pilot test conducted by the Northern Region of the USDA Forest Service.
He is the only person who has systematically studied insects that infest forest-related wildland shrubs that are critical to the survival of ungulates such as moose, deer, and elk. His publications often included original taxonomic work as well as information about ecological factors and interactions among insect, shrub, and other community components -- an uncommon and very useful approach.
Mal Furniss is especially interested in scolytids and has added greatly to the knowledge of their biology and distribution in western North America. He does not view collecting as an end in itself, but rather as an opportunity to observe and rear hundreds of species and describe their galleries and host attributes. He has collected many associated insects and other organisms new to science, including the only known hymenopterous parasite of an adult Dendroctonus species. Although not a taxonomist by formal training, Furniss has made many contributions to scolytid taxonomy.
Furniss is also intensely interested in preserving and publishing items related to the early history of western forest entomology. He has acquired numerous photos, diaries, and memorabilia of R.L. Furniss (1907-1980), voluminous correspondence between A.D. Hopkins and Josef Bruner (who was stationed in Montana from 1909-1917), original material relating to R.C. Hall (1889-1996), and other historical material. He has authored or coauthored several papers documented the early years of western forest entomology, and serves as co-chair (along with Boyd Wickman) of the WFIWC History Committee.
Adapted from the Founders Award nomination packet by Kathy Sheehan, April 2004.