André Léon Tonnoir, Entomologist.
André Léon Tonnoir died at Canberra on January 30, 1940, whilst collecting in the field.
He was born on April 9, 1885, at Brussels, Belgium, where he received his early and university education, being originally trained as an engineer. He later studied radiology and served as a technician with the Belgian forces during the Great War. In the rehabilitation of Belgium he became attached to the entomological staff of the Muséc d'Histoire Naturelle at Brussels, specialising in the Diptera and holding the post until 1921. It was during a visit to Belgium in 1920 that the late Dr R. J. Tillyard persuaded Tonnoir to visit Australia, and after studying certain entomological problems in the Commonwealth he came to New Zealand and took up his residence in Nelson as a Research Student at the Cawthron Institute until 1924. In that year he accepted the position of Assistant Curator of the Canterbury Museum at Christchurch, where he was also Lecturer in Entomology at Canterbury College. In 1926 he returned to the Cawthron Institute as First Assistant under the Noxious Weeds Control Scheme, a position he held until 1929, when he followed Tillyard to Canberra as Senior Ecologist and Curator at the Division of Economic Entomology. At the time of his death he had the post of Senior Research Officer.
Tonnoir possessed an inquiring mind and an untiring flair for thoroughness and application; some of the results of his labours he has published in several monographs dealing mainly with the Diptera. He was especially wrapped up in biology and taxonomy, and he displayed a remarkable manipulation and an uncanny ingenuity in the development of technique for his biological studies.
Though a dipterist first, his duties embraced several economic problems (locusts, grass-grubs, biological control of weeks, etc.), while his wide knowledge of all insect groups, his unusual grasp of the literature, and his command of foreign languages placed him in a position possessed by few of his colleagues. He was ever willing to place his knowledge at the disposal of anyone needing aid, and, even though fully occupied, his generosity in this respect was unfailing.—D. M.