Some Biogeographers, Evolutionists and Ecologists:
Chrono-Biographical Sketches

Willdenow, Karl Ludwig (Germany 1765-1812)
phytogeography, taxonomy

Willdenow may be counted as one of the first phytogeographers. His studies and writings predate even those of von Humboldt, to whom he was something of a mentor, and who later sent him copious materials gathered from his travels. Willdenow in fact mainly occupied himself with taxonomic studies based on collections sent to him by other naturalists, and the extensive herbarium of specimens he thereby gathered still exists (it was purchased after his death by the Berlin Botanical Garden, which under his directorship had greatly prospered). His phytogeographical studies led to ideas that were later developed further by Humboldt and others; for example, the notions that plant distribution patterns changed over time, that the barriers to dispersal were not absolute, that climate influenced the numbers and character of plant species found in a given area, and that new plant species could arise and that many previously existing ones had gone extinct.

Life Chronology

--born in Berlin, Germany, on 22 August 1765.
--1785: completes pharmacy school program at Wiegleb College in Langensalza; begins study of medicine
--1787: publishes his Florae Berolinensis prodromus
--1788: meets Alexander von Humboldt
--1789: M.D., University of Halle
--1790: takes over his father's apothecary business in Berlin; stays until 1798
--1792: publishes his Grundriss der Kräuterkunde zu Vorlesungen (in 1805 translated into English as Principles of Botany)
--1794: admitted to the Berlin Academy of Sciences
--1798: made professor of natural history at the Berlin Medical-Surgical College
--1801: named director of the Berlin Botanical Garden; named principal botanist of the Berlin Academy of Sciences.
--1810: made professor of botany at the University of Berlin
--dies at Berlin, Germany, on 10 July 1812.
--1818: Willdenow's personal herbarium is purchased by the Berlin Botanical Garden

For Additional Information, See:

--Dictionary of Scientific Biography, Vol. 14 (1976).
--Willdenowia, Vol. 4(1) (1965): 1-21.
--Taxonomic Literature, Vol. 7 (1988).
--Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, Vol. 43 (1898).

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

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