Some Biogeographers, Evolutionists and Ecologists:
Chrono-Biographical Sketches

Latreille, Pierre-André (France 1762-1833)


Latreille was a worthy member of the elite group of French naturalist zoologists who dominated the subject in the decades just preceding and following the beginning of the nineteenth century. Latreille's work lay mostly with the insects; above all it was he who developed the first lasting "natural classification" system of the arthropods by taking into account numerous different characters. Latreille was Lamarck's assistant for many years, but unlike the older man was unable to accept the notion of large-scale change in living things, strongly preferring to view nature as designed by divine wisdom. Still, he was able to recognize a number of zoogeographical patterns whose basis would only be understood later through the aid of evolutionary theory--for example, east-west and north-south diversity gradients, the inability of similar climates to explain the existence of rather different faunas, dispersal centers and examples of vicariant relations, and inter-continental faunal affinities. He is also remembered as an early voice stressing the importance of keeping accurate locational and altitudinal records for specimens collected in the field.

Life Chronology

--born in Brive-la-Gaillarde, Limousin, France, on 29 November 1762.
--1778: enrolls in the Collège du Cardinal Lemoine, Paris
--1780: M.A., University of Paris
--1786: ordained as priest; serves as a vicar at Lostanges from 1789 to 1792
--1791: elected associate member of the Société d'Histoire Naturelle de Paris
--1793-1795: imprisoned by French authorities
--1795: gives up his priesthood; attends École Normale de Paris
--1796: publishes his Précis des Caractères Génériques des Insectes, Disposés dans un Ordre Naturel
--1798: elected associate member of the Institut National, section of anatomy and zoology
--1798: appointed organizer of the entomological collection, Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris
--1802-1805: publishes his Histoire Naturelle, Générale et Particulière des Crustacés et des Insectes, in fourteen volumes
--1805: made aide-naturaliste at the Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris
--1806-1809: publishes his Genera Crustaceorum et Insectorum, in four volumes
--1808: writes obituary for Johann Fabricius
--1814: appointed titular member, Académie des Sciences de l'Institut de France, Zoology Section
--1814-1815: teaches at the École Vétérinaire d'Alfort
--1817: publishes his Le Règne Animal Distribué d'après son Organisation, with G. Cuvier
--1820: takes over Lamarck's invertebrate zoology course
--1821: made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor
--1829: professor of the chair of entomology, Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle
--dies at Paris, France, on 6 February 1833.

For Additional Information, See:

--Dictionary of Scientific Biography, Vol. 8 (1973).
--Dictionary of Catholic Biography (1961).
--Annual Review of Entomology, Vol. 19 (1974): 1-13.

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

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