Some Biogeographers, Evolutionists and Ecologists:
Chrono-Biographical Sketches

Wagner, Moritz Friedrich (Germany 1813-1887)
natural history, geography


Moritz Wagner was one of the foremost traveler-explorers of the mid-nineteenth century, and he faithfully reported the scientific and ethnological results of his many expeditions through a long series of monographic and serial writings. Wagner's considerable experience led him to conclude that both human and animal and plant populations had dispersed widely, adapting to local conditions in situ. This led in some instances to the isolation of a small number of colonists from their original populations--and, Wagner reasoned, this was a condition for any subsequent speciation episodes contributing to a general evolutionary process. His views on this matter led to a now-celebrated discussion on biogeography and speciation with Charles Darwin over this interpretation. Wagner's ideas were actually based in Lamarckian thinking (regarding the ability of individuals to generate species-level changes) and didn't attract much support--except among some ethnographers (for example, Friedrich Ratzel), who found them somewhat more applicable in aiding an understanding of human cultural evolution.

Life Chronology

--born in Bayreuth, Germany, on 3 October 1813.
--educated at the University of Augsburg
--1834: leaves work as a clerk in Marseilles to study natural science in Paris, Erlangen, and Munich
--1836-1838: travels in Algeria
--1838: made an editor of the Augsburger Allgemeine Zeitung
--1842-1846: travels in Armenia and the Caucasus Mountains
--1846-1849: travels in Italy
--1850-1851: travels in Asia Minor and Central Asia
--1852-1855: travels in the United States, the West Indies, and Central America
--1854: publishes his Reisen in Nordamerika, in three volumes, with Carl Scherzer
--1857-1860: travels in Central America and Ecuador
--1862: made professor of geography and ethnography at the University of Munich; becomes director of the ethnographic museum, Munich
--1865: made a member of the German Academy of Natural Scientsts Leopoldina
--1868: publishes his Die Darwin'sche Theorie und das Migrationsgesetz der Organismen
--dies at Munich, Germany, on 31 May 1887.
--1889: his Die Entstehung der Arten durch Raumliche Sonderung is posthumously published

For Additional Information, See:

--Appleton's Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 6 (1889).
--Studies in History of Biology, Vol. 3 (1979): 23-65.
--Journal of the History of Biology, Vol. 43(4) (2010): 727-766.
--Records of the Columbia Historical Society, Washington, D.C., Vol. 52 (1989): 78-91.
--Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, Vol. 40 (1896): 532-543. [in German]
--Moritz Wagner: Ein deutsches Forscherleben (1888). [in German]
--Taxonomic Literature, Vol. 7 (1988).

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

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