Some Biogeographers, Evolutionists and Ecologists:
Chrono-Biographical Sketches

Semper, Carl Gottfried (Germany 1832-1893)
invertebrate zoology, ecology

Carl Semper's reputation rests largely on his extensive field studies in the Philippines, and subsequent publications thereon--and, his groundbreaking book on animal ecology, Animal Life as Affected by the Natural Conditions of Existence. Semper was trained primarily in comparative anatomy and physiology, working largely on invertebrates (especially mollusks), but in his exploration of the Philippines he expanded his attention to include considerations of ethnology, geography, and ecology. He persevered through many hardships to eventually bring home an enormous collection of specimens and artifacts. His great work on animal ecology was based on a series of lectures he delivered in Boston; it features both physiological and nascent community ecology approaches to the subject to explain particulars of distribution, adaptation, and morphology. Semper was much interested in evolutionary biology as well, and was one of the early supporters of the theory that annelids were the ancestral forms to vertebrates.

Life Chronology

--born in Altona, Germany, on 6 July 1832.
--1851-1854: studies engineering at Hannover
--1856: Ph.D. in zoology, University of Würzburg (under Leydig, Gegenbaur and Koelliker)
--1858-1865: exploration and collecting activities in the Philippines and Palau Islands
--1866: hired as Privatdozent at the University of Würzburg
--1868: publishes the first of the five volumes he contributes to the ten volume Reisen im Archipel der Philippinen series (published 1868-1916)
--1869: made ordinary professor at the University of Würzburg
--1872: made director of the zoological institute at the University of Würzburg
--1873: publishes his Die Palau-Inseln im Stillen Ocean: Reiseerlebnisse
--1877: lectures at the Lowell Institute in Boston
--1880: publishes his Die Natürlichen Existenzbedingungen der Thiere (published in English the same year as Animal Life as Affected by the Natural Conditions of Existence)
--1887: suffers a debilitating stroke and is left a semi-invalid
--dies at Würzburg, Germany, on 29 May 1893.

For Additional Information, See:

--Dictionary of Scientific Biography, Vol. 12 (1975).
--Natural Science, Vol.3 (1893): 74.
--Nature, Vol. 48 (1893): 271-272.
--The Conchologist, Vol. 2 (1893): 143-144.

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

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