Some Biogeographers, Evolutionists and Ecologists:
Rensch, Bernhard (Carl Emmanuel) (Germany
evolutionary biology, systematics
||One of the main architects of the Neo-Darwinian Synthesis, Bernhard Rensch
held a position in twentieth century German biology not unlike that his
contemporary Ernst Mayr did in the United States: both men were primarily
ornithologists by training, both were centrally interested in evolutionary
theory, and both took the philosophy of systematics--and science in general--quite
seriously. Rensch's early studies concentrated on the zoogeographical
characteristics of speciation, finding in the geographic range patterns
of polytypic and incipient species clues that shed light on how climate
and other factors influenced evolution. He became a pioneer in the use
of allometric methods, analyzing Bergmann's rule and working out and naming
Allen's and Gloger's rules. Rensch then looked into whether such forces
could explain the origin of the more general taxonomic levels, the results
of which study are related in his book Neuere Probleme der Abstammungslehre:
Die Transspezifische Evolution, one of the primary documents of the
Neo-Darwinian synthesis. Rensch's studies touched on many additional subjects;
he became especially interested, however, in the relation of animal behavior
to physiology and morphology and published work on learning and memory,
the brain, sensory physiology, and ethology (which he referred to as "animal
--born in Thale, Germany, on 21 January 1900.
--1917-1920: serves in the German army
--1922: Ph.D., University of Halle
--1923-1925: research assistant, Institute for Plant Breeding, University
--1925-1937: research assistant/head of department at the zoological museum,
University of Berlin
--1927: takes part in expedition to the Lesser Sunda Islands
--1929: publishes his Das Prinzip Geographischer Rassenkreise und
das Problem der Artbildung
--1936: publishes his Die Geschichte des Sundabogens; Eine Tiergeographische
--1937-1944: head of the Westphalian Regional Natural History Museum
--1938-1943: lecturer in zoology at the University of Münster
--1938: receives the Leibniz medal of the Prussian Academy of Science
--1940-1942: serves in the German army
--1947: publishes his Neuere Probleme der Abstammungslehre: Die Transspezifische
Evolution (translated into English and published in 1959 as Evolution
Above the Species Level)
--1947-1968: chairman of the zoology department and director of the zoological
institute, University of Münster
--1953: takes part in expedition to India
--1957: honorary Ph.D., University of Uppsala
--1958: receives the Darwin-Wallace medal of the Linnean Society
--1968: made professor emeritus at the University of Münster
--1975: made an honorary fellow of the American Ornithologists' Union
--1977: elected a foreign member of the U. S. National Academy of Sciences
--1979: publishes his autobiography: Lebensweg eines Biologen in einem
--dies on 4 April 1990.
--McGraw-Hill Modern Scientists and Engineers, Vol. 3 (1980).
--Contemporary Authors, Vol. 102 (1981).
Auk, Vol. 109(1) (1992): 188.
--Biologisches Zentralblatt, Vol. 111(3) (1992): 145-149.
--History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences, Vol. 30(2) (2008): 207-226.
--American Anthropologist, Vol. 63(4) (1961): 880-881.
--Biological Theory, Vol. 1(4) (2006): 410-413.
--100 Jahre Bernhard Rensch: Biologe--Philosoph--Künstler (2000).
Copyright 2005 by Charles H. Smith. All rights
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