G. Evelyn Hutchinson

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George Evelyn Hutchinson
Born (1903-01-30)January 30, 1903
Cambridge, England
Died May 17, 1991(1991-05-17) (aged 88)
London, England
Residence United States
Nationality English, American (naturalized 1941)
Fields Limnology, ecology
Institutions Yale University
Alma mater University of Cambridge
Known for Founder of American limnology; creating the concept of multi-dimensional ecological niche
Notable awards Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement (1974)
Franklin Medal (1979)
Daniel Giraud Elliot Medal (1984)
Kyoto Prize (1986)
National Medal of Science (1991)
Fellow of the Royal Society[1]

George Evelyn Hutchinson ForMemRS[1] (January 30, 1903 – May 17, 1991) Described by many as the “Father of modern Ecology”, was born January 30, 1903 in Cambridge, England.[2] He contributed for more than sixty years to the fields of limnology, systems ecology, radiation ecology, entomology, genetics, biogeochemistry, a mathematical theory of population growth, art history, philosophy, religion, and anthropology.[3] He published research on the passage of phosphorus through lakes, the chemistry and biology of lakes, and the theory of interspecific competition. He additionally published research on insect taxonomy and genetics, zoo-geography and African water bugs, and many other things.[4] He earned his degree in Zoology from Cambridge University but chose not to earn a doctorate, of which he would come to be proud as he aged.[5] Although born in England, he spent nearly his entire professional life at Yale University with his focus on working with graduate students.[6] He is known as one of the first to combine ecology with mathematics. He would become an international expert on lakes and would author a four-volume Treatise on Limnology in 1957.[7]

Early life and Education[edit]

Hutchinson was born in 1903 to Arthur and Evaline D. Hutchinson.[8] He grew up in Cambridge, England. His father, Arthur was a mineralogist at Cambridge. Hutchinson grew up surrounded by intellectuals, including two of Darwin’s sons. By the age of five, Hutchinson was already collecting aquatic creatures and studying their preferred living environment in aquariums that he would manufacture himself.[6] He had a younger brother and a younger sister.[8] He had his early education at Saint Faith's.[9] He then went on in 1917 to study at Gresham's School in Norfolk.[6] Gresham was unique in that it did not focus on the classics, rather it included more intensive studies of mathematics and science, along with modern languages and history.[10] It was here that he began to notice that organisms had different chemical environments.[11] Hutchinson attended Cambridge University from 1921 until 1925. It was here that he attained his degree in Zoology.[12]

Personal life[edit]

Hutchinson had three wives throughout the course of his life. His first wife was Grace Pickford.[13] Grace was also Cambridge educated, she became a well known scientist as well. They were married from 1931 to 1933.[13] He met his second wife, Margaret Seal, while on a boat returning to England from India. She was a musician but they shared a great appreciation for music, literature, and art. They would remain married for fifty years, with no children.[13] She died of Alzheimer's in 1983. Hutchinson's third marriage occurred while he was into his eighties to Anne Twitty, a biologist of Haitian descent.[14] He would survive all three of his wives. He passed away in London, May 17, 1991.[15]

Beginning of Professional Career[edit]

After graduating, he went to Italy to study octopuses.[16] Next he travelled to South Africa where he discovered the field of limnology or the study of freshwater systems, on the shallow lakes near Cape Town.[5] He would become an international expert on lakes and would author a four-volume Treatise on Limnology in 1957. He was then offered a position teaching zoology at Yale University, which he accepted in 1928. He travelled widely as part of his position, which allowed him to explore previously underexplored parts of the world. It was during these travels that he authored his first book on the ecology of high-elevation lakes in India and the people that lived there, it was to be widely received by a large audience due to his skill as a writer. Yale would prove to be the perfect place for his studies, as his graduate students would influence him to delve into studies he had never considered.[17]

Research[edit]

Italy[edit]

At the age of twenty-two, upon graduation from Cambridge, Hutchinson traveled to Italy. He had been awarded the Rockefeller Higher Education Fellowship to do research at the Stazione Zoologica.[18] He was interested in doing research on the branchial gland of the octopus.[19] He wanted to establish endocrine function in higher invertebrates.[20] He thought that the branchial gland was the endocrine gland in the octopus however, he needed many specimens to study and at this point in time there was an octopus shortage.[21] This put an end to his research but his love for Italy was kindled during this stay. He would return many times for the Italian art and folklore, he was particularly interested in studying his Italian ancestry.[22]

South Africa[edit]

In 1926, applied for a lecture position at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.[23] He lectured for two years before he was fired, which left him more time to study the South African water bugs.[24] When he began his research there were fourteen known species and when he concluded his research there were nearly forty.[25] It was here that Hutchinson discovered limnology, or the study of fresh waters.[26] He along with Grace Pickford, studied the chemistry and biology of the coastal lakes. [27] He was greatly interested in limnology due to it combining of all his interests such as natural history, aquatic invertebrates, and chemistry. [28] He was drawn to the differences in the chemistry, flora, and fauna in the different water sources.[29]

India[edit]

In 1932 Hutchinson would be part of an expedition to India, the Yale North India Expedition.[30] He wanted to be the first to make ecological observations of a high-altitude lake, he wanted to then make the comparison between the data he collected with lower-altitude lakes. [31] He made much of his own equipment on the trip. [32] His work in India showed insight into biogeography and new data on high elevation limnology. Most lakes had no fish, and crustaceans were the top predators. In letters to his wife Grace, he describes the vastly different water chemistry from the Indian lakes to the South African Lakes.[33] He also collected hundreds of specimens that he sent to specialists all over the globe to be further analyzed.[34]This expedition would also become the material for his first book, The Clear Mirror, in which he describes the colors, organisms,ecology, and the people of Ladakh.[35]

Limnology and Trophic Dynamic Energy Flow[edit]

Most of Hutchinson's contributions to American Limnology were due to the research done by both him and his graduate students in Linsley Pond in Connecticut.[36] At this point many different studies were being done on small lakes, such as chemical stratification, oxygen deficits, productivity, and the ecological significance of the oxidation-reduction potential of lake waters.[37] His four volume Treatise on Limnology would become the standard for limnology students which is still in use today.[38]It includes discussions of ecological problems, quantitative data, and statistical analysis.[39] He discusses topics such as succession, feeding relationships, population dynamics, and distributions. He also discusses cyclomorphosis or the change in form of plankton in relation to their environment.[40] Hutchinson worked a great deal to expand the field of limnology, especially in it ecological and biogeochemical aspects. [41]He also was a proponent of using statistical and mathematical methods in limnology.[42] His student Raymond Lindeman also worked on the topic of limnology, furthering Hutchinson's model of the trophic dynamic concept of limnology. Together they looked at the energy flows through the lake in the trophic levels of the ecosystems.[43] They followed the energy using Hutchinson's notation system in which each organism was given an integer to mark how many organisms the energy had to go through in order to reach it, this was designated as its trophic level.[44] It then became possible to measure the efficiency of a given system, or the energy losses between ascending trophic levels.[45]

Radioisotopes[edit]

Hutchinson is also recognized as being the first to use radioisotopes as tracers in field experiments.[46] In doing so he along with his graduate student Vaughan Bowen, are credited with creating Radiation Ecology, a brand new major field of ecology.[47] He again turned to Linsley Pond, he released twenty-four portions in two lines and dispersed it uniformly across the water, a week later they collected water across different depths in the lake.[48] They then evaporated and measured the radioactivity, what they found they deemed to be statistically significant. The rest was found to have been taken up by the aquatic plants in the shallow water area of the lake.[49]

Ecosystem Ecology[edit]

Hutchinson, along with his graduate students, intellectualized American ecology by "forcing its practitioners to confront all of the processes that maintain to change ecological systems, whether these processes were biological, physical or geological.[50] He built on Charles Elton's idea of an ecological niche. He defined it as "a highly abstract multi-dimensional hyperspace in which the organism's needs and properties were defined as dimensions."[51] Hutchinson created the idea of "Circular Causal Systems", in which he described the tight link between biological and physical processes, and that the activity of organisms balanced the effects on the cycles of chemicals through organisms. He said that the changes in biological productivity were related to the changes of available nutrients. He stated that the condition in which organisms existed were systems of feedback loops.[52] In Hutchinson's systems view, there were both living and non-living feedback systems which followed the same mechanical principles. [53]Hutchinson's approach also led to the development of systems ecology by his student H.T. Odum. [54]

Impact and Contributions[edit]

Due to Hutchinson, the European attitudes towards ecology entered America.[55] Before Hutchinson, ecology and natural history were considered identical. After Hutchinson it became legitimate to study the physical and chemical properties of ecosystems in their own right.[56] Hutchinson also raised the idea of climate change 30 years before the problem became popular. He taught his students as early as 1947 that the relations between Carbon dioxide and the earth's temperature would lead to a global temperature increase.[57] He also considered the causes and preventatives for extinction, resource management,and the social anthropology of endangered cultures decades before they were attracting attention as crises.[58] Evelyn Hutchinson influenced many different areas of ecology, therefore contributing to his designation as the "Father of Modern Ecology". His many graduate students also went on to fulfill careers in ecology, furthering his teachings until the present day.

Awards[edit]

In 1949, Hutchinson was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and in 1950 to the National Academy of Sciences. In 1984 He was awarded the Daniel Giraud Elliot Medal from the National Academy of Sciences.[59] He was awarded the Kyoto Prize in 1986. He was awarded the National Medal of Science posthumously in 1991.

Publications[edit]

Apart from many research papers, Hutchinson wrote -

  • The Clear Mirror (1936)
  • The Itinerant Ivory Tower (1953)
  • A Preliminary List of the Writings of Rebecca West, 1912–51 (1957)
  • A Treatise on Limnology (1957, 1967, 1975, 1993)
Vol I Geography, Physics and Chemistry (1957)
Vol II Introduction to Lake Biology and the Limnoplankton (1967)
Vol III Limnological Botany (1975)
Vol IV The Zoobenthos (1993)
  • The Enchanted Voyage (1962)
  • The Ecological Theater and the Evolutionary Play (1965)
  • An Introduction to Population Ecology (1978)
  • The Kindly Fruits of the Earth: Recollections of an Embryo Ecologist (Yale University Press, 1979)

Biographies[edit]

  • Myrdene Anderson 2000. Sharing G. Evelyn Hutchinson's fabricational noise. Sign Systems Studies 28: 388–396.
  • Nancy G. Slack, G. Evelyn Hutchinson and the Invention of Modern Ecology (Yale University Press; 2011) 457 pages
  • Nancy G. Slack, "Are research schools necessary? Contrasting models of 20th century research at Yale led by Ross Granville Harrison, Grace E. Pickford and G. Evelyn Hutchinson.", J Hist Biol., v.36, n.3, pp. 501–529 (Autumn 2003).
  • Lawrence B. Slobodkin and Nancy G. Slack, "George Evelyn Hutchinson: 20th Century Ecologist", Endeavour, v.23, n.1 (1999).
  • Hutchinson's ratio describes the ratio of the size differences between similar species when they were living together as compared to when they were isolated.

Sources[edit]

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  3. ^ Slobodkin, L.B. “An Appreciation: George Evelyn Hutchinson.” Journal of Animal Ecology Vol. 62, no2 (1993): 390-394. Accessed February 24, 2014. http://www.jstor.org/stable/5370
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  49. ^ Slack, Nancy G., G. Evelyn Hutchinson and the Invention of Modern Ecology. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011. 160.
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  51. ^ Slobodkin, L.B. “An Appreciation: George Evelyn Hutchinson.” Journal of Animal Ecology Vol. 62, no2 (1993): 390-394. Accessed February 24, 2014. http://www.jstor.org/stable/5370
  52. ^ Peter Taylor, “Technocratic Optimism, H.T. Odum, and the Partial Transformation of Ecological Metaphors after World War II,” Journal of the History of Biology 21 (1988), pp. 213-244.
  53. ^ Peter Taylor, “Technocratic Optimism, H.T. Odum, and the Partial Transformation of Ecological Metaphors after World War II,” Journal of the History of Biology 21 (1988), pp. 213-244.
  54. ^ Peter Taylor, “Technocratic Optimism, H.T. Odum, and the Partial Transformation of Ecological Metaphors after World War II,” Journal of the History of Biology 21 (1988), pp. 213-244.
  55. ^ Slobodkin, L.B. “An Appreciation: George Evelyn Hutchinson.” Journal of Animal Ecology Vol. 62, no2 (1993): 390-394. Accessed February 24, 2014. http://www.jstor.org/stable/5370
  56. ^ Slobodkin, L.B. “An Appreciation: George Evelyn Hutchinson.” Journal of Animal Ecology Vol. 62, no2 (1993): 390-394. Accessed February 24, 2014. http://www.jstor.org/stable/5370
  57. ^ Slobodkin, L.B. “An Appreciation: George Evelyn Hutchinson.” Journal of Animal Ecology Vol. 62, no2 (1993): 390-394. Accessed February 24, 2014. http://www.jstor.org/stable/5370
  58. ^ Slobodkin, L.B. “An Appreciation: George Evelyn Hutchinson.” Journal of Animal Ecology Vol. 62, no2 (1993): 390-394. Accessed February 24, 2014. http://www.jstor.org/stable/5370
  59. ^ "Daniel Giraud Elliot Medal". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 15 February 2011. 
  60. ^ "Author Query for 'G.E.Hutch'". International Plant Names Index. 

External links[edit]