Some Biogeographers, Evolutionists and Ecologists:
Chrono-Biographical Sketches

Grinnell, Joseph (United States 1877-1939)
vertebrate zoology, natural history, field biology


Joseph Grinnell was one of the most celebrated figures in American natural history during the forty years preceding the Second World War. Grinnell was an all-around contributor: as a researcher and writer (over 550 publications), teacher and advisor, field biologist and collector (one of the most talented, by all accounts), active conservationist, editor, administrator, and association man. Among the highlights of his career were his founding of the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at Berkeley, some twenty thousand field-collected specimens (mostly birds), his editorship of The Condor for over thirty years, his naming of ninety-seven bird taxa and sixty more mammals, and his publication of the books Fur-bearing Mammals of California and Game Birds of California. Grinnell is also known for his introduction of the term "niche" in a 1917 paper. As a biogeographer he was an enthusiastic supporter of Merriam's life zones model, which he applied in the course of several thorough faunal surveys he administered within the state of California. Grinnell's most important contribution in this area, however, lay in his study of barriers (such as canyons and rivers) and their effect on the speciation process. His best known scientific publication is probably 1914's "An Account of the Mammals and Birds of the Lower Colorado Valley With Especial Reference to the Distributional Problems Presented," which features discussion on this subject.

Life Chronology

--born in the Kiowa, Comanche and Wichita Indian Agency near Fort Sill, Oklahoma, on 27 February 1877.
--1885: Grinnell family moves to Pasadena, CA (in 1888 to Carlisle, PA; in 1891 back to Pasadena)
--1896: collecting expedition to southeastern Alaska
--1897: B.A., Throop Polytechnic Institute (now California Institute of Technology)
--1897-1898: assistant instructor in zoology, Throop Polytechnic Institute
--1898-1899: accompanies a gold-seeking expedition to Alaska, collecting 700 birds and as many eggs
--1900: assistant in embryology, Hopkins Laboratory, Stanford University
--1901: M.A., Stanford University; becomes youngest fellow elected to American Ornithologists' Union
--1901-1902: ornithology instructor, Stanford University
--1903-1905: biology instructor, Throop Polytechnic Institute
--1904-1907: summers spent in fieldwork in Southern California
--1905-1908: professor of biology, Throop Polytechnic Institute
--1906-1939: editor of The Condor
--1908-1939: founding director, Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California
--1910: fieldwork along the Lower Colorado River region
--1910-1915: opposes California laws protecting wild animals
--1911-1939: librarian, California Academy of Science
--1913: Ph.D., Stanford University
--1913-1917: assistant professor of zoology, University of California, Berkeley
--1914: publishes "An Account of the Mammals and Birds of the Lower Colorado Valley with Especial Reference to the Distributional Problems Presented" in University of California Publications in Zoology
--1917-1920: associate professor of zoology, University of California, Berkeley
--1918: publishes his The Game Birds of California, with H. C. Bryant & T. I. Storer
--1919: made a Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences (council member, 1911-1919 and 1934-1937)
--1919-1939: member of the Board of Directors, American Society of Mammalogists
--1920-1939: professor of zoology, University of California, Berkeley
--1921-1936: co-editor, University of California Publications in Zoology
--1924: publishes his Animal Life in the Yosemite, with Tracy Storer
--1924-1929: fieldwork in the Lassen Peak region
--1929-1932: president, American Ornithologists' Union
--1937: publishes his Fur-bearing Mammals of California, with J. S. Dixon & J. M. Linsdale
--1937-1938: president, American Society of Mammologists
--1937-1939: member of the Advisory Committee of the Wildlife Society
--1938-1939: president of the Board of Governors, Cooper Ornithological Club
--dies at Berkeley, California, on 29 May 1939.

For Additional Information, See:

--The Condor, Vol. 42(1) (1940): 3-34.
--Journal of Mammalogy, Vol. 20(4) (1939): 409-417.
--Dictionary of Scientific Biography, Vol. 5 (1972).
--American National Biography, Vol. 9 (1999).
--University of California: In Memoriam, 1939. [website]
--Journal of Wildlife Management, Vol. 3(4) (1939): 366-368.
--The Auk, Vol. 59(2) (1942): 269-285.
--Biographical Dictionary of American and Canadian Naturalists and Environmentalists (1997).

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

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