As an ecologist, Phil has worked in the jungles of the tropics ranging from South America to Australia. A Research Associate with Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, FL, he has been active locally in central Florida, assisting in Prescribed Fires with The Nature Conservancy, in plant surveys with the Florida Native Plant Society and even as a volunteer with the Sea Turtle Nest Protection Program of Canaveral National Seashore. He is also a member of Canopy Construction Associates, a group that builds platforms and walkways in forest canopies. For over a decade, he has been pursuing environmental research coupled with field research and collection expeditions. Currently, his research is focused on canopy access and ecology of the Amazonian jungles of Peru.
He has been part of an EarthWatch project—“Amazon Katydids”; to date this project has almost doubled the described species of katydids in northern Peru. Phil was also a guest researcher on “JASON X-Amazon Rain Forest” studying the contents of the many bromeliads found in the forest canopy. He can be seen in the National Geographic Society’s documentary, “Rain Forests—Heroes of the High Frontier.” Other research projects with the CDC in Atlanta have taken him to the jungles of Columbia, Ecuador and Peru.
Dr. Wittman has led trips to the Amazon for middle school students through the CET Foundation. As a part of this project, he started a research program involving the rearing and identification of caterpillars in the rain forest. For the past few years, field research on the life cycles of Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths) in northern Peru has led to the observation of some of the most beautiful and bizarre creatures.