Some Biogeographers, Evolutionists and Ecologists:
Chrono-Biographical Sketches

Billings, William Dwight (United States 1910-1997)
ecology, botany

Billings' scientific studies on desert, arctic and alpine environments--what he termed "severe surroundings"--made him a pioneer and leader in the field of plant physiological ecology. Among the subjects he investigated were ecological phytogeography, the effect of substrate on plant growth and success, ecological races, plant metabolic rates, and the effects of temperature and moisture stress on plants. He was especially known for his work in the American West and in Alaska, but from time to time did research in other geographical locations as well. Billings was a highly popular and influential teacher; the fifty-two doctoral students he advised over his career have gone on to have a strong effect on the field of ecology.

Life Chronology

--born in Washington, D.C., on 29 December 1910.
--1933: A.B., Butler University
--1935: A.M., Duke University
--1936: Ph.D., Duke University
--1936-1937: instructor, botany, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
--1938-1940: instructor, University of Nevada, Reno
--1940-1952: assistant to full professor, University of Nevada
--1950-1952: department head, biology, University of Nevada
--1952-1957: editor, Ecology
--1952-1958: associate professor, Duke University
--1955: honorary D.Sc., Butler University
--1958-1967: professor, Duke University
--1959: Fulbright research scholarship in New Zealand
--1959: publishes "An Alpine Snowbank Environment and its Effects on Vegetation, Plant Development, and Productivity" in Ecology, with L. C. Bliss
--1962: receives the Mercer Award from the Ecological Society of America
--1964: publishes his Plants and the Ecosystem
--1967: made James B. Duke Professor of Botany, Duke University
--1968: publishes "The Ecology of Arctic and Alpine Plants" in Biological Reviews
--1974: publishes his Vegetation and Environment
--1977: research fellow, Australian National University
--1978-1979: president, Ecological Society of America
--1981: receives distinguished service award from the Ecological Society of America
--1982: publishes "Arctic Tundra: A Sink or Source for Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide in a Changing Environment?" in Oecologia
--1983: made affiliated professor, Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska
--1983: appointed adjunct research professor, Institute of Desert Research, University of Nevada
--dies at Durham, North Carolina, on 4 January 1997.

For Additional Information, See:

--Arctic and Alpine Research, Vol. 29 (1997): 253-254.
--Contemporary Authors, Vol. 113 (1985).
--Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America, Vol. 78(2) (1997): 115-117.
--Arctic, Vol. 50(3) (1997): 275-276.

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Copyright 2005 by Charles H. Smith. All rights reserved.

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