Otto Kleinschmidt

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Otto Kleinschmidt (13 December 1870 – 25 March 1954) was a German ornithologist, theologist and pastor. He introduced a typological species concept into German ornithology. His Formenkreis theory influenced the early ideas of Erwin Stresemann.[1][2] Others have considered him one of the first biogeographers. His position was that similar "forms" (species) found in geographically distant regions could be accounted for by "formation rings" – with a fixed set of characters. This allowed him to support creationism while explaining biogeographical similarities.[2][3]

Otto Kleinschmidt was born as the son of the factory overseer Adolph Kleinschmidt and his wife Elise (maiden name Dreydorf) in Geinsheim (Kornsand) on the Rhine. The house of the family was located miles from anywhere in between unspoiled countryside. Otto Kleinschmidt was already as a young boy highly interested in nature and the world of the birds. Besides that it was kind of a family tradition to research and collect. Already at the age of 8 Otto prepared his first taxidermied birds.

Published works[edit]

  • Kleinschmidt O. 1897. [No title]. Journal für Ornithologie 45: 518–519.
  • Kleinschmidt, O. (1900) Arten oder Formenkreise? Journal für Ornithologie 48:134–139
  • Kleinschmidt, O. 1921. Die Singvögel der Heimat. Verlag von Quelle & Meyer, Leipzig.
  • Kleinschmidt O. 1926. Der weitere Ausbau der Formenkreislehre. Journal für Ornithologie 74: 405–408.
  • Kleinschmidt O. 1930. The Formenkreis theory and the progress of the organic world: A re-casting of the theory of descent and race-study to prepare the way for a harmonious conception of the universal reality. London, H.F. & G. Witherby.
  • Kleinschmidt O. 1933 Kurzgefaßte deutsche Rassenkunde. Armanen-Verlag, Leipzig.
  • Kleinschmidt O. 1933. Blut und Rasse. Die Stellung des evangelischen Christen zu den Forderungen der Eugenik. Unter Zugrundelegung eines am 18. April 1933 auf der zweiten Konferenz evangelischer Akademiker in Hannover gehaltenen Vortrags. Verlag Martin Warneck, Berlin.
  • Kleinschmidt O. 1934–2000. Die Raubvögel der Heimat. Klassiker der Ornithologie. Aula-Verlag GmbH & Co. Wiebelsheim Die Raubvögel der Heimat – Predator Birds of the Homeland
  • Kleinschmidt O. 1949. Die Kolibris.
  • Kleinschmidt O. 1950. Der Zauber von Brehms Tierleben. (Neue Brehm-Bücherei) Geest&Portig. Lpzg. A.Ziemsen Vlg. Wittenberg/Lutherstadt.
  • Kleinschmidt A. 1950. Leben und Werk. Syllegomena Biologica. Festschrift zum 80. Geburtstage von Herrn Pastor Dr. Med. H.C. O. Kleinschmidt, Lutherstadt Wittenberg am 13. Dezember 1950 eds, A. von Jordans & F. Peus pp. 1–31. Leipzig: Wittenberg.


  1. ^ Stresemann, Erwin (1936). "The Formenkreis-Theory" (PDF). Auk. 53 (2): 150–158. doi:10.2307/4077273. 
  2. ^ a b Williams, D W (2007). "Otto Kleinschmidt (1870–1954), biogeography and the ‘origin’ of species: From Formenkreis to progression rule" (PDF). Biogeografía. 1: 3–9. 
  3. ^ Croizat, L. (1982). "Vicariance/vicariism, panbiogeography, "vicariance biogeography," etc.: A clarification". Systematic Zoology. 31 (3): 291–304. doi:10.2307/2413236. 

Other sources[edit]

  • Clancey PA. 1950. Some appreciative remarks on the work of Dr Otto Kleinschmidt by a British avian taxonomist. Syllegomena Biologica. Festschrift zum 80. Geburtstage von Herrn Pastor Dr. Med. H.C.O. Kleinschmidt, Lutherstadt Wittenberg am 13. Dezember 1950 eds, A. von Jordans & F. Peus, pp. 31–34. Leipzig: Wittenberg.

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