David Spratt was born in Toronto Canada on 30 July 1942. He graduated with a BSc from the University of Toronto in 1965, and was awarded a Province of Ontario Robarts Scholarship to commence studies for an MSc under the joint supervision of Dr Roy C. Anderson and Dr Murray Fallis of the Ontario Research Foundation. The MSc was awarded in 1966 for his studies on the guinea pig as an experimental host of the meningeal worm, Parelaphostrongylus tenuis, of white-tailed deer.
A WHO scholarship in the Department of Parasitology at the University of Queensland, prompted a move ‘down under’ in 1967 to commence a PhD under Prof. John Sprent. In 1969 a University of Queensland Overseas’ Student Scholarship assisted in completion of this work, and Spratt graduated in 1970 for his field, enclosure, and laboratory studies of the life history and epidemiology of the nematode Pelecitus (= Dirofilaria) roemeri, in kangaroos, wallaroos and wallabies. He was able to demonstrate the role of day-biting tabanid flies as intermediate hosts, and transmission vectors, for P roemeri, confirming the suggestion of Harvey Johnston and Josephine Bancroft. In 1920, these authors had found larval filariae described as Agamofilaria tabanicola, in 3.5 per cent of 500 tabanid flies dissected during a search for the vector of Onchocerca gibsoni, a parasite of cattle at Eidsvold. An Australian Research Grants Committee Postdoctoral Fellow ship during 1971- 1973, supported further studies of P roemeri in macropodid hosts and a taxonomic revision of the filarioid nematodes from Australasian marsupials.
In November 1973 he joined the CSIRO Division of Wildlife Research in Canberra to initiate a program of research to assess the effects of the planned introduction of anoplocephalid cestodes and lung nematodes into populations of rabbits in Australia, and to develop systematic and life history studies of the parasite fauna of native Australian animals, with assessment of their potential role in host ecology. This project came to an end when they were able to demonstrate that rabbit lungworms also infected sheep, and that the tapeworms did not consistently complete their life-cycle in Australian rabbits. In mid-1977 Spratt was promoted to Senior Research Scientist and instructed to tum his research energies to the parasites of native animals. He was assisted in this endeavour by the recipients of two CSIRO Postdoctoral Fellowships, initially Ian Beveridge, and later Tom Cribb.
For the next 24 years Spratt’s interests centered on ecology, taxonomy and life cycles of nematodes, trematodes, cestodes, pentastomes, mosqmtoes, midges, tabanids, fleas, ticks and mites of Australian vertebrates. He built up a fully documented and electronically databased collection of parasites of wildlife, as a basis of his own taxonomic studies, but also of great value to colleagues nationally and internationally.
He was promoted to Principal Research Scientist in 1982 and in 1990 became Officer-in-Charge of the headquarters of the Division of Wildlife and Ecology at ‘Gungahlin’ in Canberra. He was promoted to Senior Principal Research Scientist in 1993 became the Assistant Chief of the Division, a role he filled until the end of 1997. During this period he served frequently as Acting Chief of Division while the Chief was absent in his role as Director of the Global Change and Terrestrial Ecosystems Project of the International Geosphere Biosphere Program. Spratt was in charge when the biological control agent, rabbit calici virus, escaped from Wardang Island, an experience which provided him with unwelcome but endurmg memories of some of the inner workings of federal government.
Spratt retired in December 2000 ans was elected a Fellow of the ASP in the same year., He continued as a post-retirement research fellow in CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems.
This biography and the associated image is taken from Memoirs of the Queensland Museuim Vol.53 “Parasitology and the Queensland Museum” (Brisbane, 30th November 2007) Edited by BM Angus, LRG Cannon and RD Adlard