Theodore E. Burk, DPhil
Theodore E. Burk, DPhil

Theodore E. Burk, DPhil

Professor
College of Arts and Sciences

Academic Appointments

Department

  • Biology

Position

  • Professor

Biography

Ted Burk grew up in the small town of Scranton, Kansas, and attended the University of Kansas, graduating in 1974 with a B.A. in Biology. He was a graduate student at New College of the University of Oxford as a Danforth Fellow and Rhodes Scholar, earning a D. Phil. in Zoology in 1979 under the supervision of the controversial evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. After a three-year postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Florida, he joined the Creighton University Biology Department in 1982, becoming Professor of Biology in 1996. He was Chair of the Department of Biology from 1990 to 2000 and Interim Chair of the Department of Environmental and Atmospheric Sciences in 2002-2003. He has received the Creighton College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching, Outstanding Advising, and Professional Excellence in Service. He has taught a wide variety of courses at Creighton, including General Biology, Animal Behavior, Evolution, Conservation Biology, and Entomology. His research interests are in behavioral and conservation biology, especially of insects; he has authored 30 papers and book chapters and is co-author of the textbook Biology of Animal Behavior. Much of his professional activity now involves “citizen science” projects in which members of the public help collect information important in conservation of wild species and habitats. He is married to Dr. Christine Burk of Birmingham, England; they have four daughters and three grandchildren.

Publications and Presentations

Articles

  • Burk, T. Butterfly lore and legend, Creighton University Magazine, 2006, 22-25, 2006
  • Burk, T. E. Fly-witness testimony: The science of forensic entomology., Creighton University Magazine, 2005, 28-33, 2005

Publications

  • "Effect of Temperature on Black Swallowtail Territoriality", Proceedings of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences, 130, 44, 2020
  • "Butterfly Flower Visitors at Glacier Creek Preserve: a Photographic Catalog", Proceedings of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences, 130, 44, 2020
  • "Prairie Butterfly Flower Visits: Proportional or Preferential?" Abstracts of Behaviour 2019, joint meeting of the International Ethological Congress and the Animal Behavior Society, 2019
  • "Insect Visitors to Prairie Flowers: Proportions of Different Groups", Proceedings of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences, 129, 62, 2019
  • "Flower Visits by Prairie Butterflies: According to Flower Abundance or Butterfly Preference?", Proceedings of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences, 127, 61, 2017
  • Wankmuller, Robert T. and Theodore Burk. Flower Visits by Monarch Butterflies at Four Eastern Nebraska Prairies. Proceedings of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences., Proceedings of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences, 136, 61, 2016
  • Mullally, Hannah L., Theodore Burk, and Mackenzie Taylor. Orange Sulphur Butterflies, Colias eurytheme, Acquire Substantial Amounts of Pollen When Visiting Prairie Flowers. Proceedings of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences., Proceedings of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences, 136, 61, 2016
  • Kaneshiro, Lexi, Tommy Bae, and Theodore Burk. Faithfulness of Flower Visits by Two Prairie Butterflies. Proceedings of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences, Proceedings of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences, 134, 64, 2014
  • Burk, T. Habitat Corridor Use by the Regal Fritillary, a Prairie Butterfly of Conservation Concern, Abstracts of the 50th Annual Meeting, Animal Behavior Society, 2013
  • "Buttterfly Population Censuses at Hitchcock Nature Center", Proceedings of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences, 132, 72, 2012

Presentations

  • "Pollinators, Oaks and Prairie", Tallgrass Prairie and Oak Savanna Fire Consortium, Pahuk, Cedar Bluffs, NE, 2021
  • "Let Me Tell Ya 'Bout the Birds and the Bees, the Flowers and the Trees: a Pollination Primer", American Association of Zoo Keepers, Omaha Chapter, "Buzzed for Bees" Zoom Presentation Series, 2021
  • "Butterflies and Flowers at a Restored Tallgrass Prairie", Hitchcock Nature Center Insect Club, Hitchcock Nature Center, Honey Creek, IA, 2021
  • "The Prairie Butterfly Project: Recent Findings", Glacier Creek Preserve 7th Annual Research Conversations, Glacier Creek Preserve, Bennington, NE, 2021
  • "Butterflies and Flowers at a Restored Tallgrass Prairie", Environmental Science/Sustainability Seminar, Creighton University, 2021
  • "The Insect Apocalypse", Hitchcock Nature Center Insect Club, Hitchcock Nature Center, Honey Creek, Iowas, 2020
  • "Butterflies: How Are They Doing and Why Should You Care?", presentation to Creighton Jaybackers, Field Club, Omaha, NE, 2020
  • "Bag Bugs: Invasive Insects", Skutt High School Research Club, Skutt High School, Omaha, NE. Also presented on 3/26/2021, 2019
  • "The Sixth Extinction and the Little Things that Run the World", Invited presentation at Brownell-Talbot High School as a capstone to the all-students' summer reading program based on E. Kolbert's The Sixth Extinction: an Unnatural History, 2019
  • "Prairie Butterfly Flower Visits: Proportional or Preferential?", poster presentation at Behaviour 2019, joint meeting of the International Ethological Congress and the Animal Behavior Society, T. Burk and Abby Robinson, University of Illinois-Chicago, Chicago, IL, 2019
  • "Insect Visitors to Prairie Flowers: Proportions of Different Groups", Sydney Westphal & T. Burk, 129th annual meeting of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences, Nebraska Wesleyan University, Lincoln, NE, 2019
  • "Prairie Butterfly Research Update", Oral presentation at Glacier Creek Preserve Annual Research Conversations meeting, Glacier Creek Preserve, Bennington, NE, 2019
  • "Save Our Species: Even the Small, Six-legged Ones", Invited oral presentation at Creighton University Sustainability Forum, 2019
  • "Native Thistles and Pollinators", Invited presentation, 3rd annual Iowa Habitat Partners Conference, Des Moines, IA; sponsored by Iowa Department of Natural Resources, United States Department of Agriculture, and Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever, 2019
  • "Gardening For Butterflies", Northern Lights Garden Club, Florence, NE, 2018
  • "Monarchs and Regals: Butterfly Royalty of Midwestern Prairies", Hitchcock Nature Center Speaker Series, Hitchcock Nature Center, Honey Creek, IA, 2018
  • "The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful: Invasive, Native, and Beneficial Insects of the Midlands", Green Bellevue Speaker Series, Bellevue, NE, 2018
  • "Prairie Butterfly Project Research Update", Glacier Creek Preserve Research Conversations, Glacier Creek Preserve, Bennington, NE, 2018
  • "Butterflies and Flowers", presented at the Garden Club of America Shirley Meneice Horticulture Conference, Glacier Creek Preserve, Bennington, NE, 2017
  • "Birds, Insects, and Small Mammals of the Loess Hills and Prairies", one of three co-presenters, Pottawattamie County Conservation Board "Introduction to Land Management" program, presented in both 2017 and 2018, 2017
  • "Fire Management Practices to Support Pollinator Populations", Tallgrass Prairie and Oak Savanna Fire Consortium meeting, Waubonsie State Park, Hamburg, IA, 2017
  • "Forensic Entomology", Fontenelle Forest Insect Club, Fontenelle Nature Association, Bellevue, NE, 2017
  • Wankmuller, R. T., J. S. O'Brien, and T. Burk, "Flower Visits by Prairie Butterflies: According to Flower Abundance or Butterfly Preference?", 127th annual meeting of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences, Nebraska Wesleyan University, Lincoln, NE, 2017
  • "Newest Results from the Prairie Butterfly Project", Glacier Creek Preserve Annual Research Conversations, Glacier Creek Preserve, Bennington, NE, 2017
  • "The Prairie Butterfly Project". Glacier Creek Preserve 2nd Annual Research Conversations., 2016
  • "Techniques for Monitoring Butterflies and Other Pollinators". Public presentation, Glacier Creek Preserve., 2016
  • Wankmuller, Robert T. and Theodore Burk. "Flower Visits by Monarch Butterflies at Four Eastern Nebraska Prairies". 126th Annual Meeting of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences, Nebraska Wesleyan University, Lincoln, NE., 2016
  • Mullally, Hannah L., Theodore Burk, and Mackenzie Taylor. "Orange Sulphur Butterflies, Colias eurytheme, Acquire Substantial Amounts of Pollen When Visiting Prairie Flowers". 126th Annual Meeting of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences, Nebraska Wesleyan University, Lincoln, NE., 2016
  • "Butterflies of Glacier Creek Preserve", presentation to Lewis and Clark Middle School 7th grade class., 2016
  • "Regal Fritillaries and Other Pollinators", invited talk at Nebraska State Monarch and Pollinator Summit, Lincoln, NE., 2016
  • "Prairie Butterfly Research", presentation for UNO Education Department Pre-Service Teacher's Class on Scientific Method, Glacier Creek Preserve., 2015
  • "Fire and Prairie Butterflies", invited talk at the 2015 meeting of the Tallgrass Prairie and Oak Savanna Fire Science Consortium, Glacier Creek Preserve., 2015
  • "Public Gardens, Butterflies, and Other Pollinators", talk at public art exhibit involving a public space garden, 25th & Lake Street, Omaha, NE., 2015
  • "Long-term Studies of Butterfly Populations and Flower Visits at Eastern Nebraska Prairies". Glacier Creek Preserve 1st Annual Research Conversations., 2015
  • "Forensic Entomology: an Introduction", presentation to Westside High School Forensic Biology classes. Presented once each semester since May 2015., 2015
  • "The Passenger Pigeon of Our Time? The Plight of the Monarch Butterfly", Keynote presentation, Creighton University Environmental and Atmospheric Sciences Spring Banquet., 2015
  • "The Passenger Pigeon of Our Time? The Plight of the Monarch Butterfly", After-dinner presentation at the 2015 Founders' Day Dinner, Omaha Association of Phi Beta Kappa., 2015
  • Keynote Talk at The Land Institute's Prairie Festival, Salina, KS, "Land Ethic, from a Reasoned - an Impassioned - Perspective", 2014
  • "The Birds and the Bees - Birds' Version!", Invited Talk, Omaha Urban Bird and Nature Society, University of Nebraska at Omaha., 2014
  • Kaneshiro, Lexi, Tommy Bae, and Theodore Burk. "Faithfulness of Flower Visits by Two Prairie Butterflies". 124th Annual Meeting of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences, Nebraska Wesleyan University, Lincoln, NE, 2014
  • "A Social Butterfly? Politics and the Plight of the Monarch Butterfly", Guest Lecture in SRP 436, Politics and Ethics of Science and Technology., 2014
  • "The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful: Butterfly Royalty of Eastern Nebraska Prairies", invited talk in Creighton University Environmental Sciences Seminar Series, 2013
  • "Butterflies of Eastern Nebraska - and the Flowers They Love!", invited talk, Omaha Audubon Society, Omaha, NE, 2013
  • "Habitat Corridor Use by the Regal Fritillary, a Prairie Butterfly of Conservation Concern", Poster Presentation at 50th Annual Meeting, Animal Behavior Society, Univ. of Colorado, 2013
  • "Lepidoptera as Pollinators", invited talk in the Pollinator Workshop and Habitat Tour for Landowners, sponsored by Pheasants Forever/Nebraska Environmental Trust/Nebraska Game and Parks/Natural Resources Conservation Service/Nebraska Audubon; Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center, Denton, NE, 2013
  • "Regal Fritillary Populations and Nectar Plants at Four Eastern Nebraska Prairies", Invited Talk in the Researching the Rare, Threatened, or Endangered Insects in the North Central Region symposium, 67th annual meeting of the North Central Branch, Entomological Society of America, Lincoln, NE, 2012
  • R. Fukumoto & T. Burk, "Butterfly Population Censuses at Hitchcock Nature Center, 123rd annual meeting of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences, Nebraska Wesleyan University, Lincoln, NE, 2012
  • "Darwin on Slavery and Human Races", Invited Talk to correspond with the opening in Reinert Alumni Library of the exhibit Re-Writing the Book of Nature: Charles Darwin and the Rise of Evolutionary Theory, a traveling exhibit of the National Library of Medicine, the National Institutes of Health, and the NIH Office of History, Creighton University, Omaha, NE, 2012

Research and Scholarship

Research and Scholarship Interests

  • Insect Conservation Biology (especially butterflies and other pollinators); Insect Behavioral Ecology (especially insect communication and social behavior)

Current Research Projects

  • Conservation of, including effects of management practices on, prairie butterfly populations; nectar plant use by prairie butterflies; importance of butterflies as pollinators of prairie plants.

Grant Funding Received

  • NSF Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research grant for Nebraska Behavioral Biology Group (University of Nebraska - Lincoln, UN - Omaha, and Creighton); Creighton sub-components: Initial Award $467,557 (1993-1996), Renewal $68,107 (1996-1998)

Awards and Honors

  • Distinguished Faculty Award, School of Health Sciences Multicultural and Community Affairs Office, 2019
  • Consultant, 2018
  • Professional Excellence in Pre-Major Advising, Creighton College of Arts and Sciences, 2015
  • Consultant at Glacier Creek Preserve, 2013
  • Dean's Award for Professional Excellence in Service, Creighton College of Arts and Sciences, 2011
  • Ratio Studiorum Program Outstanding Advisor Award, Creighton College of Arts and Sciences, 2007
  • Professional Excellence in Freshman Advising Award, Creighton College of Arts and Sciences, 2007
  • Father William Kelly Award for Outstanding Achievement in Teaching, Creighton University, 1999
  • Father William Kelly Award for Outstanding Service in a Support Area, Creighton University, 1997
  • Outstanding Advisor Award, Creighton College of Arts and Sciences, 1994
  • Dean's Award for Excellence in Teaching, Creighton College of Arts and Sciences, 1989
  • "Iggy Award", Creighton University Office of Student Retention