Clinton Hart Merriam
|Clinton Hart Merriam|
Picture of Clinton Hart Merriam, by Frances Benjamin Johnston
December 5, 1855|
New York City
|Died||March 19, 1942
|Institutions||United States Department of Agriculture
National Geographic Society
|Known for||Life zone concept|
|Author abbrev. (botany)||Merriam|
Life and career
His sister Florence Augusta Merriam Bailey was a pioneering ornithologist who introduced popular field guides for bird identification. She married Vernon Bailey a field naturalist and long-time collecting partner of C. Hart Merriam's. His grandson Lee Merriam Talbot (born 1930) was a geographer and ecologist who was among the IUCN team which rediscovered the Persian Fallow Deer in 1957, and secretary general of the IUCN from 1980 to 1983.
In 1886, he became the first chief of the Division of Economic Ornithology and Mammalogy of the United States Department of Agriculture, predecessor to the National Wildlife Research Center and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. In 1883, he was a founding member of the American Ornithologists' Union. He was one of the original founders of the National Geographic Society in 1888. He developed the concept of "life zones" to classify biomes found in North America along an altitudinal sequence corresponding to the zonal latitudinal sequence from Equator to Pole. In mammalogy, he is known as an excessive splitter, proposing, for example, tens of different species of North American brown bears in several genera.
Some species of animals that bear his name are Merriam's Wild Turkey Meliagris gallopavo meriami, the now extinct Merriam's Elk Cervus elaphus merriami, Merriam's Pocket Mouse and Merriam's Chipmunk Tamias merriami. Much of his detail-oriented taxonomy continues to be influential within mammalogical and ornithological circles.
Later in life, funded by the Harriman family, Merriam's focus shifted to studying and assisting the Native American tribes in the western United States. His contributions on the myths of central California and on ethnogeography were particularly noteworthy.
- Bean, Lowell John. 1993. "Introduction". In The Dawn of the World: Myths and Tales of the Miwok Indians of California, by C. Hart Merriam, pp. 1–12. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln.
- Kroeber, A. L. 1955. "C. Hart Merriam as Anthropologist". In Studies of California Indians, by C. Hart Merriam, pp. vii–xiv. University of California Press, Berkeley.
- Sterling, Keir B. 1974. The Last of the Naturalists: The Career of C. Hart Merriam. Arno Press, New York.
- Anon. 1942 [Merriam, C. H.] Ent. News 53:150
- Anon. 1942 [Merriam, C. H.] Science 95: 318
- Daubunnire, R. F. 1938: [Merriam, C. H.]. Quart. Rev. Biol. 13:327–332
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Clinton Hart Merriam.|
- C. Hart Merriam, Dawn of the World: Myths and Weird Tales Told by the Mewan Indians of California (1910)
- C. Hart Merriam, Indian Village and Camp Sites in Yosemite Valley, Sierra Club Bulletin (1917)
- USDA Merriam National Wildlife Research Center
- BIOGRAPHICAL MEMOIR OF CLINTON HART MERRIAM
- C. Hart Merriam Collection of Native American Photographs, ca. 1890–1938 at The Bancroft Library
- Guide to the C. Hart Merriam Papers, Volume 1 and Volume 2 at The Bancroft Library
- C. Hart Merriam Collection at Princeton University
- USGS North American Bird Phenology Program: Clinton Hart Merriam