Some Biogeographers, Evolutionists and Ecologists:
Chrono-Biographical Sketches

Heer, Oswald (Switzerland 1809-1883)
paleontology, botany, entomology

Heer was one of the most eminent naturalists of his time. From the mid-1830s he was connected with the University of Zurich and was also founder and Director of the Botanical Gardens in Zurich. His researches centered on paleobotany, especially of Tertiary formations in glacial and periglacial environments, but he also gave his attention to entomology (of both living and fossil forms), and to phytogeography. Several of his books became important classics in their subjects. One of the important results of Heer's studies was a new awareness that the climatic regimes at high latitudes had not always been as dominated by cold temperatures as they are now, and he was led to postulate that the Arctic had been an important center of radiation for present day forms and their ancestors. Heer was a friendly and well-liked man, and his industry, despite health problems, is hinted at by the fact that he described over sixteen hundred new species in his three major paleobotanical works alone.

Life Chronology

--born in Niederutzwyl, St. Gallen, Switzerland, on 31 August 1809.
--1828: enters University of Halle to study theology, but switches to natural sciences
--1834: hired as privatdozent in botany at the University of Zurich; founds and is made director of the Botanical Gardens there
--1835: advanced to associate professor at Zurich
--1840: begins his studies in paleobotany
--1845: founds and is made president of Zurich's society of agriculture and horticulture
--1850-1851: spends time in Madeira to recover from tuberculosis
--1852-1883: professor of biology and entomology at Zurich
--1855: begins teaching taxonomic botany at the Technische Hochschule in Zurich
--1855-1859: publishes his Flora tertiaria Helvetiae in three volumes
--1868-1883: publishes his Flora fossilis arctica in seven volumes
--1871: suffers a tuberculosis relapse
--1873: receives the Wollaston Medal from the Geological Society of London
--1876: publishes his Flora fossilis Helvetiae
--1883: publishes his Über die nivale Flora der Schweiz
--dies at Zurich, Switzerland, on 27 September 1883.

For Additional Information, See:

--Dictionary of Scientific Biography, Vol. 6 (1972).
--Taxonomic Literature, Vol. 2 (1979).
--Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Vol. 19 (May 1883 - May 1884): 556-559.
--American Journal of Science, Ser. 3, Vol. 28 (1884): 61-67.
--Science, Vol. 2 (1883): 583-586.

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

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