Some Biogeographers, Evolutionists and Ecologists:
Chrono-Biographical Sketches

Schouw, Joakim Frederik (Denmark 1789-1852)

Schouw was one of the first important plant geographers, and like many others of his time was significantly influenced by the writings of Alexander von Humboldt. Despite generally poor health he became an important figure: as a botanist, climatologist (for one groundbreaking study he arranged to have meteorological data collected systematically at locations across Denmark), field observer and collector, administrator, educator, writer, and even politician (he was a co-author of the new Danish constitution, for example). Schouw was a rather advanced thinker for his time, supporting the notion that national identities grew as a function of the relationship between natural landscape and a people, but not in such a manner that the one absolutely determined the characteristics of the other (Schouw's conclusions were later favorably commented on by George Perkins Marsh). His ideas in this direction were likely shaped by the extensive travels he undertook in his younger days; among the subjects that absorbed his attention were vegetational zonation patterns, and the notion that "different nationalities can share similar environments (as in Switzerland) and similar nationalities can share divergent environments (as in Scandinavia)" (Environment and History, Vol. 2, p. 19). Schouw was also an important early advocate of science education and popularization.

Life Chronology

--born in Copenhagen, Denmark, on 7 February 1789.
--1804: hired as a law clerk
--1811: passes his exam to obtain a law degree
--1812: assists in a botanical expedition to Norway
--1816: receives his Ph.D. in botany from Copenhagen University
--1816-1820: botanical studies in the Alps, Sicily, and the Apennines
--1820: returns to Copenhagen; named extraordinary professor of botany at Copenhagen University
--1823: publishes his Grundzüge einer Allgemeinen Pflanzengeographie (his translation of the original edition of 1822, in Danish; an English translation appeared in 1852)
--1823-1824: conducts meteorological investigations in Denmark
--1829-1830: travels to Italy and Paris
--1831-1846: editor of Dansk Ugeskrift
--1832-1840: teaches at the Copenhagen Polytechnic
--1833: co-founds the Danish Natural History Society (Dansk Naturhistorisk Forening)
--1841: made curator of the botanical gardens at Copenhagen; made director in 1845
--1848: elected president of the Danish constitutional assembly
--1851: publishes his Die Erde, die Pflanzen und der Mensch. Populäre Naturschilderungen.
--dies at Copenhagen, Denmark, on 28 April 1852.

For Additional Information, See:

--Dictionary of Scientific Biography, Vol. 12 (1975).
--Taxonomic Literature, Vol. 5 (1985).
--Journal of Historical Geography, Vol. 6(1) (1980): 29-45.
--Environment and History, Vol. 2 (1996): 15-38.

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

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