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Mayr, Ernst(ĕrnst mīr), 1904–2005, American zoologist and author, b. Kempten, Germany. He began his career in Berlin and emigrated to the United States in 1931, where, until 1953, he was associated with the American Museum of Natural History in New York. From 1953 to 1975 he was professor of zoology at Harvard. In 1940, Mayr refined the definition of the term species to "groups of actually or potentially interbreeding natural populations which are reproductively isolated from other such groups." Along with Theodosius DobzhanskyDobzhansky, Theodosius
, 1900–1975, American geneticist, b. Russia, grad. Univ. of Kiev, 1921. He emigrated to the United States in 1927 and was naturalized in 1937.
..... Click the link for more information. and George Gaylord SimpsonSimpson, George Gaylord,
1902–84, American paleontologist and zoologist, b. Chicago, Ph.D. Yale, 1926. He became assistant curator of vertebrate paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City in 1927.
..... Click the link for more information. , he helped formulate the synthetic theory of evolutionevolution,
concept that embodies the belief that existing animals and plants developed by a process of gradual, continuous change from previously existing forms. This theory, also known as descent with modification, constitutes organic evolution.
..... Click the link for more information. , putting together the theories of Charles DarwinDarwin, Charles Robert,
1809–82, English naturalist, b. Shrewsbury; grandson of Erasmus Darwin and of Josiah Wedgwood. He firmly established the theory of organic evolution known as Darwinism.
..... Click the link for more information. and the genetic principles of Gregor MendelMendel, Gregor Johann
, 1822–84, Austrian monk noted for his experimental work on heredity. He entered the Augustinian monastery in Brno in 1843, taught at a local secondary school, and carried out independent scientific investigations on garden peas and other plants until
..... Click the link for more information. . Mayr was also a noted ornithologist and a pioneer in the study of the history and philosophy of biology. His books include Animal Species and Evolution (1963), The Growth of Biological Thought (1982), Principles of Systematic Zoology (1980), This Is Biology (1997), and What Evolution Is (2001).
Born July 5, 1904, in Kempten, Germany. American zoologist-taxonomist and evolutionist; member of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (1954).
In 1926, upon graduation from Greifswald University, Mayr became an assistant at the zoological museum of Berlin University (now Humboldt University). In 1928-29 he conducted ornithological research in New Guinea. He came to the USA in 1931. He was a staff member of the Museum of Natural History in New York from 1931 to 1953; he has been a professor at Harvard University since 1953; he was director of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard from 1961 to 1970.
Mayr’s principal works are on ornithology, zoogeography, the theory of taxonomy, and methods of taxonomic research. His chief works deal with species structure, species formation, and other problems of evolution. He is an advocate of the principle of allopatric species formation. He synthesized present-day progressive (including genetic) notions of evolution, mainly at the species level, in a number of works that have played an important role in the development and dissemination of the latest evolutionary views. He has written considerably on the history and philosophy of biology. He is a member of a number of foreign academies of science and has received honorary doctorates from many universities.
WORKS“Change of Genetic Environment and Evolution.” In Evolution as a Process, 2nd ed. London, 1958.
“Cause and Effect in Biology.” Science, 1961, vol. 134, no. 3489.
In Russian translation:
Sistematika i proiskhozhdenie vidov s tochki zreniia zoologa. Moscow, 1947.
Metody i printsipy zoologicheskoi sistematiki. Moscow, 1956. (With E. Linsley and R. Usinger.)
Zoologicheskii vid i evoliutsiia. Moscow, 1968.
Printsipy zoologicheskoi sistematiki. Moscow, 1971.
Populiatsii, vidy i evoliutsiia. Moscow, 1974.
V. G. GEPTNER