David B. Wake

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David B. Wake
Born (1936-06-08) June 8, 1936 (age 83)
Alma mater
Spouse(s)Marvalee Wake
Scientific career
Doctoral advisorJay M. Savage

David Burton Wake (born June 8, 1936, Webster, South Dakota) is emeritus professor of integrative biology and former Director and curator of herpetology of the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at the University of California, Berkeley. Wake is known for his work on the biology and evolution of salamanders as well as general issues of vertebrate evolutionary biology.[1][2] He has served as president of the Society for the Study of Evolution, the American Society of Naturalists, and American Society of Zoologists. He is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Linnean Society of London, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and in 1998 was elected into the National Academy of Sciences. He was awarded the 2006 Leidy Award from the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia.[3] He is married to the biologist Marvalee Wake. Wake is commemorated in the names of the salamander Cryptotriton wakei (Wake's moss salamander), the skink genus Davewakeum, the frog genus Wakea, and the lizard Cyrtodactylus wakeorum (Wakes' gecko)—the latter two named jointly after him and his wife.[4][5][6]

Early life and education[edit]

David Wake was born in Webster, South Dakota, on June 8, 1936,[7] and grew up in nearby Pierpont, a small town in Day County, South Dakota. His mother was a high school biology teacher. He cites as a strong influence his maternal grandfather, a Lutheran pastor and amateur naturalist who took David on botanical walks and introduced him to Latin terminology and evolutionary principles. When Wake was in high school his family moved to Washington state where he completed high school and enrolled in Pacific Lutheran College, declaring a history major and considering a career in law. He soon decided to become a biologist instead, graduating in 1958, and chose to pursue graduate school at the University of Southern California under Jay M. Savage. He chose salamanders as a model of how species diversify, earning an M.S. in 1960 and PhD in 1964: writing his doctoral dissertation on the biology of lungless salamanders (family Plethodontidae).[8]

During his time as a graduate student, Wake met his future wife, Marvalee, who was a student in a course he taught. She also became a graduate student in the Savage lab, and David married her in 1962.[8]


Wake was hired by the University of Chicago in 1964, where he worked 1969, when he was hired as faculty member of UC Berkeley and curator of the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology. He served as director of the MVZ from 1971 to 1998.[8]

Select publications[edit]

  • Jensen, William A.; Heinrich, Bernd; Wake, David B.; Wake, Marvalee H., eds. (1979). Biology. Belmont, California: Wadsworth Publishing Company.CS1 maint: uses editors parameter (link)
  • Wake DB, Roth G, eds. (1989). Complex Organismal Functions: Integration and Evolution in Vertebrates. Chicester: John Wiley & Sons.CS1 maint: uses editors parameter (link)
  • Alberch P, Gould SJ, Oster GF, Wake DB (1979). "Size and shape in ontogeny and phylogeny" Paleobiology 5: 296-317.
  • Wake DB (1970). "The abundance and diversity of tropical salamanders" American Naturalist 104: 211-213.
  • Wake DB (1976). "Pattern in evolution" Science 192: 779.
  • Wake DB (1978). "Shape, form, development, ecology, genetics, and evolution" Paleobiology 4: 96-99.
  • Wake DB (1978). "Phylogenetic reconstruction" Science 199: 1428-1429.
  • Wake DB (1980). "A view of evolution" Science 210: 1239-1240.
  • Wake DB (1981). "How biology was unified" Evolution 35: 1256-1257.
  • Wake DB (1982). "Toward a comparative biology" Evolution 36: 631-633.
  • Wake DB (1984). "Evolution in slow motion" Science 226: 826.
  • Wake DB, Larson A (1987). "Multidimensional analysis of an evolving lineage" Science 238: 42-48.
  • Wake DB (1991). "Declining amphibian populations" Science 253: 860.
  • Wake DB (1991). "Homoplasy: the result of natural selection, or evidence of design limitations?" American Nat. 138: 543-567.
  • Wake DB (2001). "Speciation in the round" Nature 409: 299-300.
  • Wake DB (2002). "A few words about evolution" Nature 416: 787-788.
  • Wake DB (2002). "On the scientific legacy of Stephen Jay Gould" Evolution 56: 2346.


  1. ^ Griesemer, James (2013). "Integration of approaches in David Wake's model-taxon research platform for evolutionary morphology". Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences. 44 (4): 525–536. doi:10.1016/j.shpsc.2013.03.021.
  2. ^ Griesemer, James R. (2015). "What Salamander Biologists Have Taught Us About Evo-devo". In Love, Alan C. (ed.). Conceptual Change in Biology. Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science. Springer Netherlands. pp. 271–300. doi:10.1007/978-94-017-9412-1_13. ISBN 978-94-017-9411-4.
  3. ^ "The Four Awards Bestowed by The Academy of Natural Sciences and Their Recipients". Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. The Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. 156 (1): 403–404. June 2007. doi:10.1635/0097-3157(2007)156[403:TFABBT]2.0.CO;2.
  4. ^ Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael (2013). The Eponym Dictionary of Amphibians. Exeter, England: Pelagic Publishing. p. 355. ISBN 978-1-907807-42-8.
  5. ^ Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 66, 278–279. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5.
  6. ^ Bauer, Aaron M. (2003). "Descriptions of seven new Cyrtodactylus (Squamata: Gekkonidae) with a key to the species of Myanmar (Burma)" (PDF). Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences. 54 (25): 463–498. for their contributions to herpetology, vertebrate morphology, and evolutionary biology and for their valuable mentoring of many graduate students
  7. ^ Henderson, Andrea Kovacs, ed. (2009). American Men & Women of Science: A Biographical Directory of Today's Leaders in Physical, Biological, and Related Sciences (26th ed.). Detroit, Michigan: Gale. p. 445. ISBN 141445726X.
  8. ^ a b c Wake, David B. (2010). "BIO". Evolution & Development. 12 (3): 244–245. doi:10.1111/j.1525-142X.2010.00409.x.

External links[edit]