Some Biogeographers, Evolutionists and Ecologists:
Chrono-Biographical Sketches

Schimper, Andreas Franz Wilhelm (Germany 1856-1901)
phytogeography, botany


Schimper remains a much respected figure within the fields of botany and phytogeography, where he introduced several key concepts. In his early studies he worked on the relation of plastids to starch formation and was the first to describe chloroplasts, but he soon turned to plant ecology and phytogeography. Much of his work was based on a series of natural history expeditions he made to various points around the world. He made advances in physiological ecology especially, identifying connections between temperature and moisture and particular morphological adaptations. He was recognized as an expert on tropical vegetation and produced important works on epiphytes and tropical coastal vegetation forms. Schimper's books feature distribution maps and other devices fortifying the notion of "vegetation" and units of such (e.g., the tropical rain forest), and for such efforts he is often recognized as the founder of the approach to ecological investigation known as synecology. His life was amazingly productive, considering that he was only 45 when he died.

Life Chronology

--born in Strasbourg, France, on 12 May 1856.
--1864-1874: attends the Strasbourg Gymnasium
--1874: enters the University of Strasbourg
--1878: finishes his Ph.D. at the University of Strasbourg
--1879-1880: works with J. Sachs in Würzburg
--1880-1882: fellow at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore
--1881: travels to Florida and the West Indies
--1882-1883: visits Venezuela and the West Indies
--1883: hired as lecturer at the University of Bonn
--1883: publishes "Über die Entwickelung der Chlorophyllkörner und Farbkörper" in Botanische Zeitung
--1885: publishes "Untersuchungen über die Chlorophyllkörper und die Ihnen Homologen Gebilde" in Jahrbücher für Wissenschaftliche Botanik; coins the term "Chloroplastiden" (chloroplasts)
--1886: named extraordinary professor, University of Bonn
--1886: visits Brazil and the West Indies
--1888: publishes his Die Epiphytische Vegetation Amerikas
--1889-1890: studies beach vegetation in Sri Lanka and Java
--1891: publishes his Die Indo-Malayische Strandflora
--1898: publishes his Pflanzen-geographie auf Physiologischer Grundlage (the influential English edition was published posthumously in 1903)
--1898: coins the term "tropical rain forest"
--1898-1899: botanist aboard the Valdivia: visits numerous oceanic islands, the Cape of Good Hope, West and East Africa, Sumatra
--1899-1901: professor of botany, University of Basel
--dies at Basel, Switzerland, on 9 September 1901.

For Additional Information, See:

--Dictionary of Scientific Biography, Vol. 12 (1975).
--Biographical Encyclopedia of Scientists, 2d ed., Vol. 2 (1994).
--Taxonomic Literature, Vol. 5 (1985).
--Endeavour, Vol. 26(1) (2002): 3-4.
--Botanical Gazette, Vol. 33(2) (1902): 160-161.

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

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