Lev Berg

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Lev Semenovich Berg
Levberg.jpg
Born March 14, 1876
Bender, Bessarabia
Died December 24, 1950
Leningrad
Fields Geographer and biologist

Lev Semyonovich Berg (also known as Leo S. Berg) (Russian: Лев Семёнович Берг; March 14, 1876, Bender - December 24, 1950, Leningrad) was a leading Soviet geographer, biologist and ichthyologist who served as President of the Soviet Geographical Society between 1940 and 1950. He also developed his own evolutionary theory as opposed to the theories of Darwin and Lamarck.

Life[edit]

Berg was born in Bessarabia, in Russian Empire, he enrolled at a Moscow University early in his life where he studied hydrobiology and geography. He later studied icthyology and in 1928 was awarded he was also a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Lev Berg graduated from the Moscow University in 1898. Between 1903 and 1914, he worked in the Museum of Zoology in Saint Petersburg. He was one of the founders of the Geographical Institute, now a Faculty of Geography of the Saint Petersburg University.

Berg studied and determined the depth of the lakes of Central Asia, including Balkhash and Issyk Kul. He developed Dokuchaev's doctrine of natural zones, which became one of the foundations of the Soviet biology. Among his pioneering monographs on climatology were "Climate and Life" (1922) and "Foundations of Climatology" (1927).

During his lifetime, Berg was a towering presence in the science of ichthyology.[1] In 1916, he published four volumes of the study of Fishes of Russia. The fourth edition was issued in 1949 as Freshwater Fishes of the Soviet Union and Adjacent Countries and won him the Stalin Prize.[2] He was said to have discovered the symbiotic relationship between lampreys and salmon. Berg's name is featured in the Latin appellations of more than 60 species of plants and animals.

In 2001, the Central Bank of Transnistria minted a silver coin honoring this native of today's Transnistria,[3] as part of a series of commemorative coins called The Outstanding People of Pridnestrovie.

Berg was honored for a lifetime of scientific achievement by the Imperial Russian Geographical Society and presented with the P.P. Semenov-Tian-Shansky Gold Medal.[1]

Nomogenesis[edit]

Berg is most well known for his evolutionary theory called nomogenesis, which was a type of orthogenesis. Berg's ideas were collected in his book Nomogenesis; or, Evolution Determined by Law and was first published in 1922 in Russia; it was later translated into English in two editions the first appearing in 1926 and the later edition appearing in 1969. In the book Berg collected a large amount of empirical data which offered a strong criticism of Darwin's theory of evolution.[4]

Berg's theory of nomogenesis combined arguments from paleontology, zoology and botany to claim that evolution is not a random process. The theory of Nomogenesis emphasized the limitations of natural selection which determine the directionality of evolution.[5]

Berg claimed that the variation of characters in species is confined within certain limits due to both internal and external factors. The limitation of the variability, Berg argued, left hardly any space for natural selection; he claimed this was supported by the paleontological record because all the phylogenetic branches look more or less like straight lines. Berg distanced himself from both Darwinism and Lamarckism. Instead he proposed the concept of directed mass mutations as the main mechanism for directing evolution.[4]

Influenced by the paleontologist Wilhelm Waagen, he labeled the directed mutations Waagen-Mutations:

"New species arise by means of mass transformation of a great number of individuals, which happens due to Waagen mutations... This mass transformation is a phenomenon of geological magnitude. It is connected with the alteration of the fauna of a certain horizon and comes about in certain periods only to be absent for a long time"[6]

Thus Berg claimed evolution was caused by mass mutations, which are directed by internal and external factors, so that new species occur with a high probability of being almost perfectly adapted. According to Berg, newly evolved species beget the subordinate taxonomic categories, and appear to be perfectly adapted to their environments. Although Berg's theory was anti-Darwinian, and anti-Lamarckian, it still advocated adaptive evolution.[4]

J B S Haldane called Nomogenesis "by far the best anti-Darwinian book of this century".[7]

Works[edit]

  • Nomogenesis; or, Evolution Determined by Law (1922)[8]
  • "Fresh-water fishes of Russia" (1923)
  • Discovery of Kamchatka and Bering's Kamchatka Voyages (1924)
  • Russian discoveries in the Pacific (1926)[9]
  • "Principles of climatology" (1927)[10] (reprinted 1938) [11]
  • Geographical zones of the U.S.S.R. (1937)[12]
  • "Freshwater fishes of the U.S.S.R. and adjacent countries. Volume 1-3. Israel Program for Scientific Translations Ltd, Jerusalem. 1962-65 (Russian version published 1948-49)."[13]
  • "Natural regions of the U.S.S.R." (1950)[14]
  • "Classification of fishes, both recent and fossil" (1940)[15]
  • Loess as a product of weathering and soil formation [16]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Obituary: L. S. Berg". Geographical Review 41, (4). Oct 1951. JSTOR 210715. 
  2. ^ Joint Committee on Slavic Studies (U.S.); American Council of Learned Societies; Social Science Research Council (U.S.); American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies (February 1951). The Current digest of the Soviet Press. p. 18. Retrieved 22 May 2011. 
  3. ^ Smalley, Ian Markovic; Slobodan O’Hara-Dhand, Ken Wynn, Peter (June 2010). "A man from Bendery: L.S. Berg as geographer and loess scholar". Geologos (Bogucki Wydawnictwo Naukowe) 16 (2): 111–119. ISSN 1426-8981. hdl:10593/566. 
  4. ^ a b c Wissemann, Volker, Annals of the History and Philosophy of Biology 11/2006, pp. 112–113
  5. ^ Vol'kenshteĭn MV (1987). "[Molecular biology, darwinism and nomogenesis].". Mol Biol (Mosk) 21 (3): 630–9. PMID 3309616. 
  6. ^ BERG, L. (1969) Nomogenesis; or, Evolution Determined by Law, M.I.T. Press, Cambridge, (Original Russian edition 1922.) p. 317
  7. ^ John Haldane, The causes of evolution, 1932
  8. ^ Lev Semenovich Berg (1969). Nomogenesis: or, Evolution determined by law. M.I.T. Press. Retrieved 22 May 2011. 
  9. ^ Lev Semenovich Berg; Akademii︠a︡ nauk SSSR. (1926). Russian discoveries in the Pacific. Published by the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. Retrieved 22 May 2011. 
  10. ^ Лев Симонович Берг (1927). Основый климатологии. Гос. изд-во. Retrieved 22 May 2011. 
  11. ^ "Основы климатологии". 
  12. ^ Lev Semenovich Berg (1937*). Geographical zones of the U.S.S.R.. Retrieved 22 May 2011.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  13. ^ Lev Semenovich Berg (1965). Freshwater fishes of the U.S.S.R. and adjacent countries: Ryby presnykh vod SSSR i sopredelʹnykh stran. Israel Program for Scientific Translations; [available from the Office of Technical Services, U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Washington]. Retrieved 22 May 2011. 
  14. ^ Lev Semenovich Berg (1950). Natural regions of the U.S.S.R.. Macmillan. Retrieved 22 May 2011. 
  15. ^ Lev Semenovich Berg (1965). Classification of fishes both recent and fossil. Reprinted by Document Reproduction Unit, Thai National Documentation Centre, Applied Scientific Research Corp. of Thailand. Retrieved 22 May 2011. 
  16. ^ Lev Semenovich Berg (1964). Loess as a product of weathering and soil formation: Less kak produkt vyvetrivaniya i pochvoobrazovaniya. Israel Program for Scientific Translations. Retrieved 22 May 2011. 

External links[edit]