Some Biogeographers, Evolutionists and Ecologists:
Chrono-Biographical Sketches

Shelford, Victor E(rnest) (United States 1877-1968)
animal & community ecology

Shelford is among the most important figures in the history of animal ecology and is sometimes referred to as the "father" of the subject in the United States. His contributions in this direction extend into related areas such as physiological ecology, community ecology, population ecology, and ecological biogeography. Shelford's approach incorporated studies on physiology, life histories, succession, animal population cycles and fluctuations, bioclimatology, and more; he also well understood the importance of relating experiment to field study. Especially instructive were his studies on succession in dune environments; these included his famous relating of variations in tiger beetle coloration to their presence in different successional stages, and in turn to a "law of tolerance" that related presence/absence to limiting factors in the environment. Shelford was also an important force in his field's professionalization and societal application, among other associations helping to found both the Ecological Society of America and the Nature Conservancy, and serving for several years as the chairman of two National Research Council committees. Shelford's influences included Americans H. C. Cowles and C. B. Davenport and the German physiological ecologist Carl Semper; among his dozens of students were the prominent ecologists W. C. Allee and S. C. Kendeigh. The effects of his example can also be seen in work accomplished on the other side of the Atlantic by figures such as Charles Elton.

Life Chronology

--born in Chemung County, New York, on 22 September 1877.
--1895-1897: teaches in public schools in Chemung County
--1899-1901: student at West Virginia University
--1903: S.B., University of Chicago
--1903-1914: teaches zoology at the University of Chicago
--1907: Ph.D., University of Chicago
--1911: publishes "Ecological Succession. I. Stream Fishes and the Method of Physiographic Analysis." in Biological Bulletin
--1913: publishes his Animal Communities in Temperate America
--1914-1927: assistant, then associate professor of zoology, University of Illinois
--1914-1929: biologist in charge of the research labs, Illinois Natural History Survey
--1914-1930: teaches alternate summers at the Puget Sound Biological Station
--1915: helps to organize the Ecological Society of America; serves as its first president in 1916
--1927-1946: professor of zoology, University of Illinois
--1929: publishes his Laboratory and Field Ecology
--1931-1936: chairman, National Research Council committee on wildlife
--1932-1939: chairman, National Research Council committee on ecology of grasslands
--1939: publishes his Bio-ecology, with Frederic E. Clements
--1939: starts the Grassland Research Foundation
--1946: co-founder of the Ecologists' Union (renamed the Nature Conservancy in 1950)
--1958: president, Grassland Research Foundation
--1963: publishes his The Ecology of North America
--dies at Urbana, Illinois, on 27 December 1968.

For Additional Information, See:

--American National Biography, Vol. 19 (1999).
--Biographical Dictionary of American and Canadian Naturalists and Environmentalists (1997).
--Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America, Vol. 36(4) (1955): 116-118.
--Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America, Vol. 49(3) (1968): 97-100.
--Dictionary of Scientific Biography, Vol. 18 (1990).
--History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences, Vol. 14(1) (1992): 73-91.
--Pioneer Ecologist: The Life and Work of Victor Ernest Shelford, 1877-1968 (1991)

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

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