Some Biogeographers, Evolutionists and Ecologists:
Chrono-Biographical Sketches

Chapman, Frank Michler (United States 1864-1945)

Photo courtesy of The Auk.
Although not a person who produced major theoretical contributions, Frank Chapman excelled in just about every other way a professional ornithologist of his time could. Not formally educated beyond high school, his consuming interest in the natural history of birds led to volunteer work and then to a permanent job at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Chapman rose to the leadership role in the Department of Birds there, and under his guidance its collections became the world's largest. He was also an imaginative display designer, pioneering the use of habitat group exhibits. Meanwhile, he was carrying out an active field program in Latin America, especially Panama and northwestern South America; this work led to, among other productions, major faunal monographs on the birds of Colombia and Ecuador. Many of these studies featured biogeographical analyses: Chapman was especially interested in life zones approaches and the interpretation of the role of barriers in influencing discontinuous distribution patterns. Last but not least, Chapman was the foremost popularizer of bird studies of his era, primarily through his numerous guidebooks, autobiographical field reminiscences, and his semi-popular journal Bird-Lore.

Life Chronology

--born in West Englewood, New Jersey, on 12 June 1864.
--1880-1886: works for a bank in New York City
--1886-1888: collecting expeditions in Florida
--1888-1908: associate curator of ornithology and mammalogy, American Museum of Natural History (AMNH)
--1895: publishes his Handbook of Birds of Eastern North America
--1897: president, Linnaean Society of New York
--1899-1934: editor of Bird-Lore (also founder)
--1907: publishes his The Warblers of North America
--1908: made curator of ornithology, AMNH
--1911: president, American Ornithologists' Union
--1912: awarded the first Linnaean Society Medal
--1913: honorary Sc.D., Brown University
--1916: publishes his The Travels of Birds
--1917: publishes his The Distribution of Bird-life in Colombia
--1918: receives the Elliot medal of the National Academy of Sciences
--1920: made curator in charge in the Dept. of Birds, AMNH
--1921: elected to the National Academy of Sciences
--1921-1925: president, John Burroughs Memorial Association
--1926: publishes his The Distribution of Bird-life in Ecuador
--1928: awarded the Roosevelt medal of the Roosevelt Memorial Association
--1929: publishes his My Tropical Air Castle
--1933: publishes his Autobiography of a Bird-Lover
--1942: retires from the AMNH
--dies in New York City, on 15 November 1945.

For Additional Information, See:

--Biographical Memoirs, National Academy of Sciences (U.S.A.), Vol. 25 (1948).
--American National Biography, Vol. 4 (1999).
--Dictionary of Scientific Biography, Vol. 17 (1990).
--Biographical Dictionary of American and Canadian Naturalists and Environmentalists (1997).
--Auk, Vol. 122(2) (2005): 389-402.
--Auk, Vol. 67(3) (1950): 307-315.
--American Naturalist, Vol. 80(793) (1946): 476-481.
--Autobiography of a Bird-Lover (1933).

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

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