Some Biogeographers, Evolutionists and Ecologists:
Chrono-Biographical Sketches

Ortmann, Arnold Edward (Prussia-United States 1863-1927)
invertebrate zoology & paleontology, zoogeography

Ortmann's career began auspiciously as a protégé of the great German zoologist Ernst Haeckel. After finishing his education and working in Strasbourg for some years he came to the United States, where he was employed first at Princeton and then in Pittsburgh. Although occasionally treating other taxa, he made his reputation primarily through his meticulous taxonomic studies on freshwater mussels, and crustaceans. Ortmann gave especial attention to geographical distribution problems, spending much of the last twenty years of his life collecting specimens of freshwater molluscan forms from the eastern rivers of the United States--information which led him to conclusions regarding both the ancient physical geography of the region, and the geographical characteristics of variation within species (e.g., his 1920 "law of stream position"). His collections of invertebrates in western Pennsylvania were so thorough that they are being used today as a primary basis for conservation studies in the area. Ortmann frequently entered into the more general discussions of the day, as is evidenced by such paper titles as "The Theories of the Origin of the Antarctic Faunas and Floras," "Facts and Theories in Evolution," "The Supposed Bipolarity of Polar Faunas," "A Case of Isolation Without Barriers," and "Tertiary Archhelenis," in which he argued against von Ihering's land bridge theory. Ortmann was not a supporter of the Alfred Russel Wallace, standardized faunal regions, approach to biogeography, preferring to look at each case of spatial evolution on its own, individual, merits.

Life Chronology

--born in Magdeburg, Prussia, on 8 April 1863.
--1882-1883: serves in the German army
--1886: Ph.D., University of Jena (student of Ernst Haeckel)
--1886: hired by the Zoological Museum, Strasbourg
--1890-1891: takes part in collecting expedition to Zanzibar
--1894: emigrates to the United States
--1894-1903: curator of invertebrate paleontology, Princeton University
--1896: publishes his Grundzüge der Marinen Tiergeographie
--1899: member of the Peary Relief expedition
--1900: obtains U.S. citizenship
--1902: publishes "The Geographical Distribution of Freshwater Decapods and Its Bearing upon Ancient Geography" in the Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society
--1903-1927: curator of invertebrate zoology, Carnegie Museum, Pittsburgh
--1910-1925: professor of physical geography, University of Pittsburgh
--1911: Sc.D., University of Pittsburgh
--1912: elected to the German Academy of Natural Scientists Leopoldina
--1920: publishes "Correlation of Shape and Station in Freshwater Mussels (Naiades)" in the Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society
--1925: assumes the chair of zoology at the University of Pittsburgh
--dies at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on 3 January 1927.

For Additional Information, See:

--Science, N.S. Vol. 65(1672) (1927): 29.
--Nautilus, Vol. 40(4) (1927): 109-111.

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

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