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Greene, Harry

Harry W Greene

Adjunct Professor
Department of Integrative Biology

Vertebrate natural history; ecology, evolution, and conservation

Office Location

Postal Address
AUSTIN, TX 78712

Harry W. Greene graduated from Texas Wesleyan in 1968, served three years as an army medic, then earned an M.A. from UT Arlington and Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee. Before moving to Cornell in 1999, he was for two decades a professor and curator in the University of California, Berkeley’s Museum of Vertebrate Zoology. Harry has taught behavior, vertebrate natural history, herpetology, introductory biology, evolution, and field ecology, all the while studying animals in more than a dozen countries. Now back in Texas, he divides time between Austin and a ranch in the Hill Country, where he pampers Longhorns with names like Pancho and Lefty while writing a book about wildness.

I am an adjunct professor of integrative biology at UT Austin, and emeritus professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Cornell University. As a natural historian, beginning in high school, I have focused on the ecology, behavior, evolution, and conservation of vertebrates, especially constricting and venomous snakes. My studies have relied mainly on field observations, often facilitated by radiotelemetry, and examining stomach contents of museum specimens; they mostly have taken place in neotropical rainforests and North American deserts, but also in Europe, Asia, and Africa. More than a decade ago I veered into anthropology, with a special interest in snake-primate interactions, as well as became increasingly preoccupied with conservation philosophy and goals.


Greene, H. W. 1997. Snakes: the evolution of mystery in nature. University of California Press, Berkeley.

Greene, H. W. 2013. Tracks and shadows: field biology as art. University of California Press, Berkeley.

Selected journal papers and book chapters (25 out of >200 publications, these and most others available as pdf’s upon request to harry.greene@austin.utexas.edu):

Greene, H. W. 1961. Additional instances of tail-waving in salamanders. Bulletin of the Philadelphia Herpetological Society 9:19.

Greene, H. W. 1973. Defensive tail display by snakes and amphisbaenians. Journal of Herpetology 7:143-161.

Greene, H. W. 1975. Ecological observations on the red coffee snake, Ninia sebae, in southern Veracruz, Mexico. American Midland Naturalist 93:478-484.

Burghardt, G. M., H. W. Greene, and A. S. Rand. 1977. Social behavior in hatchling green iguanas: life at a reptile rookery. Science 195:689-691.

Greene, H. W., and G. M. Burghardt. 1978. Behavior and phylogeny: constriction in ancient and modern snakes. Science 200:74-77.

Greene, H. W., and R. W. McDiarmid. 1981. Coral snake mimicry: does it occur? Science 213:1207-1212.

Greene, H. W., and F. M. Jaksic. 1983. Food niche relationships among sympatric predators: effects of level of prey identification. Oikos 40:151-154.

Greene, H. W. 1986. Diet and arboreality in the emerald monitor, Varanus prasinus, with comments on the study of adaptation. Fieldiana, Zoology (New Series) 31:1-12.

Greene, H. W. 1989. Agonistic behavior by three-toed sloths, Bradypus variegatus. Biotropica 21:369-372.

Cadle, J. E., and H. W. Greene. 1993. Phylogenetic patterns, biogeography, and the ecological structure of neotropical snake assemblages. Pp. 281-293 in R. E. Ricklefs and D. Schluter (eds.), Species Diversity in Ecological Communities: Historical and Geographical Perspectives. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Greene, H. W. 1994. Homology and behavioral repertoires. Pp. 369-391 in B. K. Hall (ed.), Homology: The Hierarchical Basis of Comparative Biology. Academic Press, San Diego.

Greene, H. W., and D. Cundall. 2000. Limbless tetrapods and snakes with legs. Science 287:1939-1941.

Greene, H. W., P. May, D. L. Hardy Sr., J. Sciturro, and T. Farrell. 2002. Parental behavior by vipers. Pp. 179-205 in G. W. Schuett, M. Höggren, M. E. Douglas, and H. W. Greene (eds.), Biology of the Vipers, Eagle Mountain Publ., Eagle Mountain, UT.

Greene, H. W. 2005. Organisms in nature as a central focus for biology. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 20:23-27.

Greene, H. W. 2005. Historical influences on community ecology. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 102:8395-8396.

Donlan, C. J., H. W. Greene, J. Berger, C. E. Bock, J. H. Bock, D. A. Burney, J. A. Estes, D. Foreman, P. S. Martin, G. W. Roemer, F. A. Smith, and M. E. Soulé. 2005. Re-wilding North America. Nature 436:913-914.

Sigala-Rodríguez, J. J., and H. W. Greene. 2009. Landscape change and conservation priorities: Mexican herpetofaunal perspectives at local and regional scales. Revista Mexicana de Biodiversidad 80:231-240.

Headland, T. N., and H. W. Greene. 2011. Hunter-gatherers and other primates as prey, predators, and competitors of snakes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 108:20865-20866, E1470-1474.

Gardner, C. J., P. Radolalaina, M. Rajerison, and H. W. Greene. 2015. Cooperative rescue and predator fatality involving a group-living strepsirrhine, Coquerel’s sifaka (Propithecus coquereli) and a Madagascan ground boa (Acrantophis madagascariensis). Primates 56:127-129.

Ballen, C. J., and H. W. Greene. 2017. Walking and talking the tree of life: Why and how to teach about biodiversity. PLoS Biology 15(3): e2001630.

Greene, H. W. 2017. Evolutionary scenarios and primate natural history. American Naturalist 190 (suppl.):S69-86.

Reiserer, R. S., G. W. Schuett, and H. W. Greene. 2018. Seed ingestion and germination in rattlesnakes—overlooked agents of rescue and secondary dispersal. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 285:20172755.

Wiseman, K., H. W. Greene, M. S. Koo, and D. J. Long. 2019. Feeding ecology of a generalist predator, the California kingsnake (Lampropeltis californiae): Why rare prey matter. Herpetological Conservation and Biology 14:1-30.

Greene, H. W. 2020. Pomegranates, peccaries, and love. Ecopsychology 12:166-172.

Kazandjian, T., D. Petras, S. Robinson, J. van der Thiel, H.W. Greene, K. Arbuckle, A. Barlow, D. Carter, G. Whiteley, SC Wagstaff, A.S. Arias, L-O. Albulescu, A. von Plettenberg-Laing, C. Hall, A. Heap, S. Penrhyn-Lowe, C. McCabe, S. Ainsworth, M.K. Richardson, J.M. Gutiérrez, R.A. Harrison, J.J. Calvete, I. Vetter, E.A.B. Undheim, W. Wüster, N.R. Casewell. 2021. Convergent evolution of pain-inducing defensive venom components in spitting cobras. Science 371:386-390.

1974: Outstanding Graduate Student Award, University of Tennessee

1974: Best Student Paper Award, Journal of Herpetology

1977: Chancellor's Citation for Extraordinary Academic Achievement, University of Tennessee

1980: Class of 1936 Teaching Excellence Award, University of California, Berkeley

1983: Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science

1984: Fellow, California Academy of Sciences

1993: Distinguished Teaching Award, University of California, Berkeley (campus wide)

1996: Distinguished Alumnus Award, University of Texas at Arlington

1997: New York Times’ 100 Notable Books (for Snakes: the evolution of mystery in nature)

1998: Silver Medal, Commonwealth Club of California (for Snakes: the evolution of mystery in nature)

1998: PEN Center USA West Literary Award (for Snakes: the evolution of mystery in nature)

2000: Edward Osborne Wilson Award, American Society of Naturalists

2003: Merrill Scholars’ Most Influential Advisor Award, Cornell University

2004: Henry S. Fitch Award for Excellence in Herpetology, American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (ASIH)

2005: Outstanding Advisor Award, Cornell University

2013: Business Insider’s “Top Ten Professors at Cornell”

2013: Southwest Books of the Year (for Tracks and shadows: field biology as art)

2014: Honorary Life Member, Southwest Center for Herpetological Research

2014: Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences

2017: Honorary Member, Herpetologists’ League