Some Biogeographers, Evolutionists and Ecologists:
Chrono-Biographical Sketches

Bory de Saint-Vincent, Baron Jean Baptiste Geneviève Marcellin (France 1778-1846)
natural history, exploration


Bory de Saint-Vincent's almost too colorful life story has sometimes overshadowed his reputation as one of the most thoughtful and productive naturalists of the early nineteenth century. A free spending extrovert who also dabbled in literary ventures, his career was complicated by involvement in a near-mutiny at sea, various political intrigues, and financial debts–to the extent that he spent years at a time avoiding the authorities, or actually being incarcerated. Throughout it all, however, he managed to keep up a career as a natural history collector. Bory was the first important island biogeographer, the result of his military career and many travels and his interest in the ideas of Buffon and Lamarck on organic change. He was one of the first to study the formation of coral reefs and the differences between the faunas of oceanic islands and continental areas, and to attempt a biogeographical classification of the oceans. Bory is also remembered for his early efforts to understand the origins and biogeography of the races of humankind, the spectacular herbarium he accumulated (which eventually was donated to the nation), his editorial and other contributions to the Dictionnaire Classique d'Histoire Naturelle, his leadership of collecting expeditions to Morocco, Algeria, and Egypt, the beautiful maps he made of every place he visited, and the pleasure he took in living out the life he had chosen for himself.

Life Chronology

--born in Agen, southwest France, on 6 July 1778.
--1799: conscripted into the French Army
--1801: naturalist on the Pacific expedition led by Nicolas Baudin; leaves ship at Mauritius
--1801-02: explores and collects on Madeira, Teneriffe, Reunion, Mauritius and St. Helena
--1802: returns to France; rejoins the arleamy, working as a cartographer and naturalist
--1803: publishes his Essais sur les Iles Fortunées et l'Antique Atlantide in 2 volumes
--1804: publishes his Voyage dans les Quatre Principales Îles des Mers d'Afrique in 3 volumes
--1805-1808: serves in Germany, including the German-French war of 1806-1807
--1808-1814: serves in Spain
--1816-1820: banished from France after Napoleon's defeat; lives mostly in hiding in The Netherlands, France, Belgium, Germany and Bohemia, collecting plants and rocks
--1820-1823: pardoned, then returns to Paris and works as a botanist
--1821: publishes his Voyage Souterrain, ou Description du Plateau de Saint-Pierre de Maestricht et de ses Vastes Cryptes, with L. Dufour
--1822-1831: edits and contributes many entries on algae to the seventeen volume Classic Dictionary of Natural History
--1825-1828: imprisoned for debt; continues work on algae in prison
--1827: publishes his L'Homme (Homo): Essai Zoologique sur le Genre Humain in 2 volumes
--1829: leads scientific expedition to Greece
--1834: elected to the Académie des Sciences
--1836-1838: publishes his Relation du Voyage de la Commission Scientifique de Morée... in 2 volumes
--1840-1842: leads scientific expedition to Algeria
--dies in Paris, on 22 December 1846.

For Additional Information, See:

--Dictionary of Scientific Biography, Vol. 2 (1970).
--Taxonomic Literature Suppl. II (1993).
--A to Z of Marine Scientists (2003).
--Sciences et Techniques en Perspective, Vol. 35 (1996): 85-91.

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Copyright 2007 by Charles H. Smith. All rights reserved.

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