Edward Osborne Wilson Brett A. Patton BIOL 7083 Spring 2014 Picture retrieved from: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles Wilson’s Background Born: June 10, 1929 (Birmingham, AL) Spent much of his childhood on the Gulf Coast of Alabama and Florida At age 7: fishing incident left him blind in his right eye -fateful incident led him to Entomology -lack of insect pins during WWII narrowed his interest even further to Myrmecology, since ants could be studied without the use of insect pins At age 13: discovered the first colony of fire ants in Mobile, AL -his findings were not published until age 19 Education: B.S. in Biology, University of Alabama, 1949 M.S. in Biology, University of Alabama, 1950 PhD. in Biology, Harvard University, 1955 -started PhD at University of Tennessee but was invited to Harvard after one year, accepted because Harvard housed the largest insect collection in the world “I had a bug period like ever kid. I just never outgrew mine.” Wilson, E.O. Letters to a Young Scientist, 2013, WW Norton & Company, ISBN 0871407000 Wilson’s one guideline upon admittance as a Junior Fellow at Harvard: “We don’t care what you do, what field you go into as long as you accomplish something -as a Junior Fellow-extraordinary.” E.O.Wilson’s Curriculum Vitae as of 10 November 2010 Wilson’s body of work is expansive and stretches over 60 decades. http://www.mcz.harvard.edu/Departments/Entomology/wilson_e_o.html Wilson’s CV (con’t) Notable Positions: Alabama Department of Conservation: Entomologist (1949) Harvard University: -Professor (1956-1997), -Pellegrino University Professor, Emeritus (1997-) -Curator in Entomology (1973-1997) -Honorary Curator in Entomology (1997) Notable Awards in Science (39): 1976:National Medal of Science 1994: Eminent Ecologist Award, Ecological Society of America 2003: Lifetime Achievement Award, Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystems Studies, University of Georgia (2003) 2006:TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) Prize http://www.mcz.harvard.edu/Departments/Entomology/wilson_e_o.html E.O. Wilson TED Prize 2007 “The TED Prize is awarded to an extraordinary individual with a creative and bold vision to spark global change. By leveraging the TED community’s resources and investing $1 million into a powerful idea, the TED Prize supports one wish to inspire the world.” Wilson’s wish: “I wish we will work together to help create the key tools that we need to inspire preservation of Earth's biodiversity. And let us call it the Encyclopedia of Life.” “The encyclopedia will quickly pay for itself in practical applications. It will address transcendent qualities in the human consciousness, and sense of human need. It will transform the science of biology in ways of obvious benefit to humanity. And most of all, it can inspire a new generation of biologists to continue the quest that started, for me personally, 60 years ago: to search for life, to understand it and finally, above all, to preserve it. That is my wish.” -Wilson, E.O. (2007, March). E.O. Wilson: My Wish: Build the Encyclopedia of Life. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/e_o_wilson_on_saving_life_on_earth. As Wilson’s dream stands today: Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) is a free, online encyclopedia with the goal of cataloguing all living species known to science. As of April 2014, EOL had 1,361,256 species pages. -Encyclopedia of Life. Available from http://www.eol.org. Accessed 14 Apr 2014 Encyclopedia of Life Webpage Example: -Encyclopedia of Life. Available from http://www.eol.org. Accessed 14 Apr 2014 Wilson’s CV (con’t) Literary Awards (22): Pulitzer Prize, General Non-fiction, On Human Nature (1979) Pulitzer Prize, General Non-fiction, The Ants (1991) Los Angeles Times Book Prize, Science, Naturalist (1995) Wildlife Society Book Award, The Diversity of Life (1993) Environmental Awards (33): Rachel Carson Legacy Award, Rachel Carson Homestead Association (2010) Lifetime Achievement Award, -National Council for Science and the Environment (2008) Life Achievement Award, Renewable Natural Resources Foundation (2002) Global Environment Citizen Award, Harvard Medical School (2001) http://www.mcz.harvard.edu/Departments/Entomology/wilson_e_o.html Wilson’s CV (con’t) Commander, First Class, Royal Order of the Polar Star,Sweden (2009) Lifetime Achievement Award, Time Magazine (2001) America’s 25 Most Influential People, TIME (1996) Over 40 Honorary Degrees http://www.mcz.harvard.edu/Departments/Entomology/wilson_e_o.html Wilson’s CV (con’t) Countless lectures and keynote speeches at prestigious universities and institutes around the world http://www.mcz.harvard.edu/Departments/Entomology/wilson_e_o.html Wilson’s CV (con’t) Research interests include: -evolutionary biology -biology of social insects -classification of ants -sociobiology -biogeography -ethical philosophy Field research in 16 countries Over 433 technical articles published Over 25 books published including 2 Pulitzer Prize winners Articles/Books with over 1,000 citations : 10 (Google Scholar) -What Is Sociobioogy? (11345 citations) -The Insect Societies (5171) -Consilience: The unity Of Knowledge (4558) -The Diversity Of Life (4150) -On Human Nature (2550) -Biophilia (2058) -An Equilibrium Theory Of Insular Zoogeography (1743) -Caste And Ecology In The Social Insects (1733) -The Coevolutionary Process (1679) -Character Displacement (1237) http://www.mcz.harvard.edu/Departments/Entomology/wilson_e_o.html Wilson’s CV (con’t) Notable Articles: Brown, W. L. and E. O. Wilson. 1956. Character displacement. Systematic Zoology, 5: 49–64. Simberloff, D. S. and E. O. Wilson. 1969. Experimental zoogeography of islands: the colonization of empty islands.Ecology, 50(2): 278–296. Wilson, E.O. 1962. Chemical communication among workers of the fire ant Solenopsis saevissima Wilson, E. O. 1971. The Insect Societies. Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, Cambridge, MA. 548 pp. Notable Books: The Theory of Island Biogeography, with Robert H. MacArthur (1967) The Insect Societies (1971); finalist, National Book Award,1972; 100 Top Science Books of Century, American Scientist (1999) Sociobiology: The New Synthesis (1975); finalist, National Book Award (1976); the abridged edition (1980) http://www.mcz.harvard.edu/Departments/Entomology/wilson_e_o.html The Theory of Character Displacement (1956) “Two closely related species have overlapping ranges. In the parts of the ranges where one species occurs alone, the populations of that species are similar to the other species and may even be very difficult to distinguish from it. In the area of overlap, where the two species occur together, the populations are more divergent and easily distinguished, i.e., they "displace" one another in one or more characters. The characters involved can be morphological, ecological, behavioral, or physiological; they are assumed to be genetically based. “ -Divergence occurs between two species where they co-occur. -evolution of differences between groups which can lead to the formation of new species -Convergence occurs between two species where they do not co-occur. -evolution of similar features in species of different lineages -Brown, W. L. and E. O. Wilson. 1956. Character displacement.Systematic Zoology, 5: 49–64. The Theory of Character Displacement (con’t) Example using the two species of rock nuthatches Sitta neumayer and Sitta tephronota In the range where the two species S. neumayer and S. tephronota occur in relatively equal number (shown in yellow): S. neumayer shows reduction in overall body size, bill length and eye stripe while S. tephronota shows an overall increase in all of these characteristics. Therefore, these species “displace” each other in this region. -Brown, W. L. and E. O. Wilson. 1956. Character displacement.Systematic Zoology, 5: 49–64. The Theory of Island Biogeography Equilibrium for the number of species is reached at the point of intersection between the rate of immigration and the rate of extinction. When the model consists of species of several islands with varying degrees of isolation and size: immigration curve will decrease with increasing isolation and the extinction curve will decrease with an increase in area. Linked ecology with conservation biology. MacArthur, R. H. and E. O. Wilson. 1967. The Theory of Island Biogeography. Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton, NJ. 203 pp. Chemical Communication Among Workers Of The Fire Ant Solenopsis saevissima Wilson was responsible for the development of pheromone biology Collaborated with William Bossert to produce the first basic conception of the optimal nature and size of pheromone molecules and how to predict the rate and extent of spread Four general cases covered: -(1) substance released as a puff in still air -(2) substance released continuously in still air -(3) substance released continuously from moving source, such as laying of an odor trail -(4) substance is released continuously in wind -Cases (1) and (2) intention was to analyze the alarm communication of the harvester ant Pogonomyrmex badius -Case (3) intention was to analyze the recruitment trail of the fire ant Solenopsis saevissima -Case (4) intention was analysis of the sex attractant of the gypsy moth Porthetria dispar. Using the 4 cases, Bossert and Wilson were able to create mathematical equations that would cover most of the conditions under which pheromones can be broadcast in the terrestrial environment. When these equations were applied to real cases, it supported the theory: the emission rate of the pheromone and the response threshold have been adjusted in evolution to maximize efficiency with respect to a specific function. Wilson, E.O. 1962. Chemical communication among workers of the fire ant Solenopsis saevissima (Fr. Smith). 3. The experimental induction of social responses. Anim. Behav. 10:159-164. Radiolab. (2009, February 12). Chasing bugs [Sound recording]. Retrieved from WNYC Radio website: http://www.wnyc.org/shows/radiolab “Father of Sociobiology” What is Sociobiology? Wilson defines sociobiology as: “The extension of population biology and evolutionary theory to social organization.” Attempts to explain social behaviors such as aggression and altruism Based on two fundamental assumptions: -certain behavioral traits are inherited -inherited behavioral traits are honed by natural selection Systematic study of the biological basis of social behavior in animals. Ended the book with a chapter on how this theory could be applied to people -caused much controversy due to the fact that many critics felt this implicated racism and sexism -on the contrary, Wilson believed that when Sociobiology is applied to human behavior, it simply shows that humans have genetic-based instincts "I have been blessed with brilliant enemies." Wilson, E. O. 1975. Sociobiology: The New Synthesis. Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, Cambridge, MA. 697 pp. Other works of Wilson’s worthy of mention: On Human Nature (1988): -asks the question: Is human behavior controlled by species’ biological heritage? -follow up to Sociobiology and a response to the critics -explained how Wilson viewed human behavior and what the applications of Sociobiology are -silenced critics of Sociobiology and won a Pulitzer Prize for this work -foundation for development of Evolutionary Psychology Naturalist (2006): -memoir that chronicles his journey through life as a scientist The Ants (1991): -Pulitzer prize winner -Collaborated with Bert Holldobler -goal was to write everything known about ants -written for scientists http://www.mcz.harvard.edu/Departments/Entomology/wilson_e_o.html Wilson’s CV (con’t) Notable PhD Students: Daniel S. Simberloff:“Experimental Zoogeography of Islands” Aniruddh D. Patel:“A Biological Study of the Relationship between Language and Music” http://www.mcz.harvard.edu/Departments/Entomology/wilson_e_o.html Wilson as a mentor and advisor to Daniel S. Simberloff: Assessed the theory of island biogeography Current Research interests: -community composition and structure -community morphological structure -invasion biology -biogeography -statistical ecology http://eeb.bio.utk.edu Wilson as a mentor and advisor to Aniruddh D. Patel: Patel began studying with Wilson on ants for his PhD but during fieldwork in Australia he had an “epiphany”: “the only thing I really wanted to study was the biology of how humans make and process music.” Amazingly, Wilson’s response to Patel: “You must follow your passion. Come back to Harvard and we’ll give it a shot.” 1996: Patel completed his PhD under Wilson and has since gone on to be one of the trailblazers in this field of study; neurobiology of music was not even a recognized field at the time he defended his dissertation 1998: Patel published a paper that contained the first imaging study showing what happens when the brain processes musical grammar as compared with what happens when it processes language -showed that it occurs in an overlapping way within the brain Dreifus, C. (2010, May 31). Exploring Music’s Hold On The Mind. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/01/science/01conv.html?_r=0 Wilson is not one to rest on his laurels. Since his “retirement” in 1996, he has gone on to publish 10+ books and started the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation. He is currently advising reconstruction of a National Park in Mozambique, the Gorongosa National Park and working with a group to create the biologically richest park in America, to be located on Gulf Coast of Mobile and the Delta. This week he will be speaking during the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Symposium held at his alma mater, The University of Alabama. "I have tenure. I've retired, and I'm turning 85 years old...I'm going to tell it like it is." Wolfe, A. (2014, April 18). E.O. Wilson Tells It Like It Is. Retrieved fromhttp://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303626804579506012946655636 References: Brown, W. L. and E. O. Wilson. 1956. Character displacement. Systematic Zoology, 5: 49–64. Dreifus, C. (2010, May 31). Exploring Music’s Hold On The Mind. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/01/science/01conv.html?_r=0 Encyclopedia of Life. Available from http://www.eol.org. Accessed 14 Apr 2014. MacArthur, R. H. and E. O. Wilson. 1967. The Theory of Island Biogeography. Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton, NJ. 203 pp. Simberloff, D. S. and E. O. Wilson. 1969. Experimental zoogeography of islands: the colonization of empty islands. Ecology, 50(2): 278–296. Wilson, E. O. 1975. Sociobiology: The New Synthesis. Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, Cambridge, MA. 697 pp. Wilson, E.O. 1962. Chemical communication among workers of the fire ant Solenopsis saevissima (Fr. Smith). 3. The experimental induction of social responses. Anim. Behav. 10:159-164. Wilson, E.O. and W. Bossert. 1963. The Analysis of Olfactory Communication Among Animals. Journal of Theoretical Biology. Vol 5 (3):443-469. Wilson, E.O. and M. Pavan. 1959. Source and Specificity of chemical releasers of social behavior in the dolichoderine ants. Psyche 65: 41-51 Wilson, E.O. (2007, March). E.O. Wilson: My Wish: Build the Encyclopedia of Life. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/e_o_wilson_on_saving_life_on_earth. Wilson, E.O. Letters to a Young Scientist, 2013, WW Norton & Company, ISBN 0871407000 Wilson, E.O. Naturalist, 1994, Shearwater Books, ISBN 1-55963-288-7 Wolfe, A. (2014, April 18). E.O. Wilson Tells It Like It Is. Retrieved fromhttp://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303626804579506012946655636 http://eeb.bio.utk.edu http://www.mcz.harvard.edu/Departments/Entomology/wilson_e_o.html Questions? Happy Earth Day.
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