Highlands & Islands

'Mr Cairngorms' Dr Adam Watson, dies aged 88

Dr Adam Watson Image copyright Iain Cameron
Image caption Turriff-born Dr Adam Watson wrote extensively about plants and animal life in the Cairngorms

Dr Adam Watson, an ecologist dubbed "Mr Cairngorms", has died at the age of 88.

The scientist studied and wrote extensively about plants and animal life in the Cairngorms.

He received the Fort William Mountain Festival's Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture in 2012 in recognition of his work.

Friend Iain Cameron, a climber and expert on snow in Scotland's hills, said Dr Watson "passed away peacefully" on Wednesday after a short illness.

Paying tribute to the ecologist, Mr Cameron said: "An irreplaceable man to his family, and to Scottish science.

"He will be greatly missed by many."

RSPB Scotland described Dr Watson, who research included studies of various upland birds, as "arguably the most knowledgeable Scottish naturalist and ornithologist of the last century".

The charity added: "His wide-ranging expertise and penetrating thinking is impossible to replace, and we feel his loss deeply as a friend, collaborator and wise critic."

Image copyright Adam Watson Collection
Image caption Dr Watson won awards for his scientific work

Grant Moir, chief executive of the Cairngorms National Park Authority, also paid tribute to the scientist.

He said: "The legacy and achievements of Dr Adam Watson are there for all to see.

"All involved in the Cairngorms owe a debt of gratitude for his work in conserving the wildlife and landscapes of this special place."

Dr Watson, who was born in Turriff, Aberdeenshire, was a well-known figure in Scotland's climbing and hillwalking community.

He climbed extensively in the Cairngorms and in Scotland's other mountain ranges. He also climbed and skied abroad, including in Norway, Lapland, Canada and Alaska.

Dr Watson studied at the University of Aberdeen in the 1950s, gaining a first class honours in zoology and also the department of natural history's MacGillivray Prize.

He gained his PhD in 1956 for his thesis on the Annual Cycle of Rock Ptarmigan, and a second doctorate in 1967 for scientific papers on populations and behaviour of northern animals.

A John Muir Trust Lifetime Achievement Award was among other honours given to Dr Watson.

Andrew Bachell, chief executive of the John Muir Trust, said: "Adam has left us a precious legacy in his extensive writings illuminating the ecology of the Cairngorms and enriching our understanding of Scotland's mountain environment."

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