Some Biogeographers, Evolutionists and Ecologists:
Chrono-Biographical Sketches

Lack, David Lambert (England 1910-1973)
ornithology, ecology, population biology

Despite in some respects remaining an amateur, Lack became the leading British ornithologist of his time, supplementing that level of accomplishment with additional great success as an evolutionary biologist, ecologist, and population biologist. He spent most of the 1930s as a secondary school teacher, but was able to get time off to travel, do field work, and make professional contacts. During World War II he worked on the radar development program; later he would apply knowledge gained during this period to the study of bird migration patterns. At the end of hostilities he was made director of the Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology, and in 1947 published his classic study Darwin's Finches. Lack became increasingly interested in the relation of Darwinian natural selection to the manner of population regulation, concluding that density dependent forms of control dominated. His ideas on speciation, ecological isolation, group selection, migration, and the evolution of reproductive strategies are best summarized in his two most influential books, The Natural Regulation of Animal Numbers in 1954, and Ecological Adaptations for Breeding in Birds in 1968.

Life Chronology

--born in London, England, on 16 July 1910.
--1924-1929: attends Gresham's School, Holt, Norfolk
--1931, 1933: obtains second class in natural science tripos at Magdalene College, Cambridge
--1933-1940: biology master, Dartington Hall School, Devonshire
--1934: field study with R. E. Moreau in Tanganyika
--1935: visits the United States; meets Ernst Mayr
--1938-1939: studies bird behavior in the Galapagos Islands
--1940-1945: involved in radar research for British Army
--1943: publishes his The Life of the Robin
--1945-1973: director of the Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology, Oxford
--1947: publishes his Darwin's Finches
--1947: publishes "The Significance of Clutch Size" in Ibis
--1948: Sc.D., Magdalene College, Cambridge
--1951: made a fellow of the Royal Society
--1954: publishes his The Natural Regulation of Animal Numbers
--1957: publishes his Evolutionary Theory and Christian Belief
--1958: receives the Godman-Salvin medal of the British Ornithologists' Union
--1962-1966: president, International Ornithological Congress
--1963: made a fellow of Trinity College
--1964-1965: president, British Ecological Society
--1966: publishes his Population Studies of Birds
--1968: publishes his Ecological Adaptations for Breeding in Birds
--1972: awarded the Darwin medal of the Royal Society
--dies at Oxford, England, on 12 March 1973.
--1976: posthumously publishes his Island Biology, Illustrated by the Land Birds of Jamaica

For Additional Information, See:

--Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society, Vol. 20 (1974): 271-293.
--Journal of the History of Biology, Vol. 36(3) (2003): 531-566.
--Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Vol. 32 (2004).
--Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series, Vol. 4 (1981).

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

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