Edward O. Wilson, father of biodiversity, dies at 92

  • The American biologist, one of the most influential scientists, introduced concepts such as biodiversity, sociobiology or biophilia into the scientific literature

The American biologist Edward Osborne Wilson, considered the father of biodiversity, died this Sunday at the age of 92 in Burlington (Massachusetts, USA), according to has reported this Monday its foundation through a statement in which it does not detail what was the cause of death.

Career as a teacher

Wilson was considered the heir to Charles Darwin and it was one of the most influential and reputable scientists international of the last decades. In addition, he was the first to find out that ants communicated through an exchange of chemicals, now known as pheromones.

Professor for 46 years at Harvard University, was in charge of introducing in the scientific literature concepts such as biodiversity, social behavior, reproductive success, genetic kinship or biophilia, the spontaneous pleasure we feel in contact with wild nature.

Furthermore, Wilson established sociobiology as a new field of science, dedicated to studying the social behavior of animals, including humans.

The role of genetics

One of his most controversial ideas appeared in the book “Sociobiology: The New Synthesis“, published in 1975, and in which he described the role that genetics plays in the behavior of animals. In his last chapter, dedicated to humanity, Wilson argued that human behavior is based on genetics, so that each person has genes that make them more prone to behaviors, such as kindness, aggressiveness or the division of labor by gender.

These ideas led other scholars to link his theory to biological determinism and the theories of Nazi eugenics, which provoked criticism and protests against him. Decades later scientists acknowledge that genes do play a role -whose importance is still unknown- in human behavior.

However, at a time when criticism was raging, Wilson wrote the book ‘On Human Nature’, which won in 1979 the nonfiction pulitzer prize. He also obtained that recognition for the work ‘The Ants‘(1991), in which he analyzed the anatomy and social behavior of ants.

In 2007, Wilson won the Premi Internacional Catalunya.

Influential scientist

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At the end of his career, Wilson became one of the scientific figures most committed to defending nature.

In one of his books, ‘The creation. An appeal to save life on Earthe’ (2007), warned about the consequences of pollution, global warming and the deterioration of biological diversity on Earth, and suggested that the science and religion must work together to solve these problems.


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