Frederick Merkle Bayer (October 31, 1921 – October 2, 2007) was the emeritus curator of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History, as well as a prominent marine biologist who specialized in the study of soft corals.
Bayer joined the Army Air Forces during World War II and served in the Pacific as a photographic technician. While in the military, he often sketched and collected fish, shells and butterflies throughout the Pacific region.
Bayer received his bachelor's degree from the University of Miami. He continued his studies and obtained a master's degree in taxonomy from George Washington University in 1954. In 1958, he completed a doctorate in taxonomy from George Washington University.
Bayer worked at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History from 1947 until 1961. He returned to work at the museum again from 1975 until 1996. He served as a professor at the University of Miami's marine science school between 1961 and 1975. While at Miami, Bayer participated in a number of soft coral collecting expecitions in the Caribbean Sea and in the waters off West Africa.
Following his arrival at the Smithsonian, Bayer was sent to Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Oceanto study the effects of nuclear testing on the island's marine life, just two years after the tests were carried out. Bayer also spent several months doing field research throughout the rest of Micronesia.
Bayer wrote over 130 scholarly papers on the history and taxonomy of soft coral. He focused much of his soft coral research on octocorals, which include sea fans and sea whips. He discovered 170 new species of marine life, 40 new genera, and three new families.
Japan's Emperor Hirohito, who was also a marine biologist, actually named a hydroid, Hydractinia bayeri, in honor of Frederick Bayer. Bayer returned the favor while Hirohito was on a state visit to Washington, D.C. in 1975. He presented Hirohito with a rare snail shell which was the "size of a hat."
Bayer served as a member of the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature from 1972 to 1995.
He was also an accomplished bio-illustrator. Bayer painted and designed a total of fourteen scientifically accurate marine scenes. These particular scenes were used for a set of Haitian postage stamps in 1973.
Taxa named in honor
Taxa named in honor of Frederick Bayer include:
- Bayerxenia Alderslade, 2001
- Bayericerithium Petuch, 2001
- Bayerotrochus Harasewych, 2002
- Bayergorgia Williams & López-González, 2005
- Hydractinia bayeri Hirohito, 1984
Taxa named by him
Taxa named by Frederick Bayer include:
- Babelomurex fax (F. M. Bayer, 1971)
- Babelomurex sentix (Bayer, 1971)
- Bayerotrochus midas (Bayer, 1965)
- Bayerotrochus pyramus (Bayer, 1967)
- Cyomesus chaunax (Bayer, 1971) and Teramachia chaunax Bayer, 1971 are synonyms of Latiromitra cryptodon (P. Fischer, 1882)
- Lyria cordis Bayer, 1971
- Peristarium Bayer, 1971
- Peristarium aurora (Bayer, 1971)
- Peristarium electra (Bayer, 1971)
- Peristarium merope (Bayer, 1971)
- Perotrochus amabilis (Bayer, 1963)
- Perotrochus lucaya Bayer, 1965
- Scaphella evelina Bayer, 1971
- Siphonochelus tityrus (Bayer, 1971)
- Thelyssa Bayer, 1971
- Thelyssa callisto Bayer, 1971
- Volutomitra erebus Bayer, 1971
- Volutomitra persephone Bayer, 1971
- Amphichama inezae (F. M. Bayer, 1943)
Other malacologists named Bayer include:
- Charles Gustave François Hubert Bayer (1887-1956) from Netherlands
- L. Bayer from Belgium/Africa
- Bernstein, Adam (2007-10-23). "Frederick Bayer, 85; biologist studied corals in deep sea". Washington Post (Boston Globe). Retrieved 2007-10-23.
- Cairns, Stephen (2007-11-03). "In memoriam: Dr. Frederick "Ted" Bayer". Deep Sea News. Retrieved 2007-10-29.
- Cairns S. D. (2008). "Frederick M. Bayer – Commissioner 1972-1995, octocoral taxonomist and Smithsonian curator". Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature 65(2): 86-87.
- Kantor, Y.; Gofas, S. (2010). Latiromitra cryptodon. In: Bouchet, P.; Gofas, S.; Rosenberg, G. (2010) World Marine Mollusca database. Accessed through: World Register of Marine Species at http://www.marinespecies.org/aphia.php?p=taxdetails&id=141851 on 2011-09-12
- Coan E. V., Kabat A. R. & Petit R. E. (15 February 2011). 2,400 years of malacology, 8th ed., 936 pp. + 42 pp. [Annex of Collations]. American Malacological Society
- portrait of Frederick Bayer
- publication list
- obituary of Frederick Bayer at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History, Department of Invertebrate Zoology website