Some Biogeographers, Evolutionists and Ecologists:
Clements, Frederic Edward (United States
Photo courtesy of Ecology. |F. E. Clements was, during his prime, the most influential ecologist
in the world. During ten year periods at the University of Nebraska and
University of Minnesota he developed and refined the theory for which
he is best known: ecological succession. The notion that community systems
might go through a dynamic and orderly (and almost organic) set of stages
leading to a stable assemblage of species known as the climax was the
first attempt at a universal understanding within ecology, and proved
an irresistible unifying force among its workers even as an increasing
number of studies demonstrated various limitations to the theory. Clements
left academia in 1917 to join the staff of the Carnegie Institution of Washington as a research associate; from this point on
he moved in an increasingly Neo-Lamarckian direction, including attempting
to demonstrate that acquired traits could be passed on to descendants.
This work isolated him from the mainstream (and ended up unsubstantiable),
but it did provide a target for workers involved in the Neo-Darwinian
synthesis. The Biographical Dictionary of American and Canadian Naturalists
and Environmentalists (1997), p. 157, succinctly lists Clements'
major contributions as "development of formal theoretical framework
for plant ecology, creation of system of ecological nomenclature, introduction
of quantitative methods to the study of vegetation," and "extensive
field research in plant ecology."|
--born in Lincoln, Nebraska, on 15 September 1874.
--1894: B.Sc., University of Nebraska
--1896: M.A., University of Nebraska
--1897-1907: teaches botany and plant physiology at the University of
--1898: Ph.D., University of Nebraska
--1898: publishes his The
Phytogeography of Nebraska, with Roscoe Pound
--1900: establishes the Alpine Laboratory at Pikes Peak, Colorado
--1902: member of the American nomenclature commission
--1904: publishes his The
Development and Structure of Vegetation
--1905: publishes his Research
Methods in Ecology; member of the International nomenclature commission
--1906-1907: president, Nebraska Academy of Science
--1907-1917: head of botany department, University of Minnesota
--1908: president, Minnesota Mycological Society
--1910: general secretary of the AAAS
--1911: member of the international botanical excursion to Great Britain
--1913: director of the international botanical excursion in the U. S.
--1916: publishes his Plant
Succession: An Analysis of the Development of Vegetation
--1917-1925: spends winters working at the Carnegie Institution's Desert
Laboratory in Tucson, AZ
--1917-1941: research associate in charge of ecological research, Carnegie
Institution of Washington
--1925-1941: conducts research at the Carnegie Institution's Coastal Laboratory
at Santa Barbara, CA
--1928: publishes his Plant Succession and Indicators
"The Relict Method in Dynamic Ecology" in the Journal of Ecology
--1934-1945: consultant to the U. S. Soil Conservation Service
--1935: consultant to the National Highway Research Board
"Nature and Structure of the Climax" in the Journal of Ecology
--1939: publishes his Bio-Ecology,
with Victor Shelford
--1940: honorary LL.D., University of Nebraska
--1941: retires from the Carnegie Institution but continues his research
at Pikes Peak and Santa Barbara
--dies at Santa Barbara, California, on 26 July 1945.
--Biographical Dictionary of American and Canadian Naturalists and
--Dictionary of Scientific Biography, Vol. 3 (1973).
--American National Biography, Vol. 5 (1999).
--Taxonomic Literature Suppl. IV (1997).
of Ecology, Vol. 34(1) (1947): 194-196.
--National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 34 (1948).
Vol. 26(4) (1945): 317-319.
Vol. 8 (1993): 178-195.
--American Development of Biology (1988): 257-280.
Copyright 2007 by Charles H. Smith. All rights reserved.
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