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Journal of the History of Biology

Michael R Dietrich
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
January 10, 2017: Journal of the History of Biology
Michael R Dietrich
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
January 9, 2017: Journal of the History of Biology
Christine Keiner
As the Panama Canal approached its fiftieth anniversary in the mid-1960s, U.S. officials concerned about the costs of modernization welcomed the technology of peaceful nuclear excavation to create a new waterway at sea level. Biologists seeking a share of the funds slated for radiological-safety studies called attention to another potential effect which they deemed of far greater ecological and evolutionary magnitude - marine species exchange, an obscure environmental issue that required the expertise of underresourced life scientists...
January 5, 2017: Journal of the History of Biology
Daniel Liu
This article revisits the development of the protoplasm concept as it originally arose from critiques of the cell theory, and examines how the term "protoplasm" transformed from a botanical term of art in the 1840s to the so-called "living substance" and "the physical basis of life" two decades later. I show that there were two major shifts in biological materialism that needed to occur before protoplasm theory could be elevated to have equal status with cell theory in the nineteenth century. First, I argue that biologists had to accept that life could inhere in matter alone, regardless of form...
December 5, 2016: Journal of the History of Biology
Koen B Tanghe
Historians tend to speak of the problem of the origin of species or the species question, as if it were a monolithic problem. In reality, the phrase (or similar variants) refers to a, historically, surprisingly fluid and pluriform scientific issue. It has, in the course of the past five centuries, been used in no less than ten different ways or contexts. A clear taxonomy of these separate problems is useful or relevant in two ways. It certainly helps to disentangle confusions that have inevitably emerged in the literature in its absence...
November 7, 2016: Journal of the History of Biology
Matthew Holmes
During the latter-half of the nineteenth century, the utility of the house sparrow (Passer domesticus) to humankind was a contentious topic. In Britain, numerous actors from various backgrounds including natural history, acclimatisation, agriculture and economic ornithology converged on the bird, as contemporaries sought to calculate its economic cost and benefit to growers. Periodicals and newspapers provided an accessible and anonymous means of expression, through which the debate raged for over 50 years...
October 26, 2016: Journal of the History of Biology
Simone Fattorini
Hewett Cottrell Watson and Edward Forbes were two naturalists of the Victorian age. They were protagonists on a dispute that generated comment and serves as an illuminating case study of misunderstanding in priority issues. Watson accused Forbes of having plagiarized his original classification of the British plants into groups on the basis of their geographical distribution. This controversy originated mostly from a so-far-ignored basic difference in Watson's and Forbes' ideas about biogeographical regionalization...
October 24, 2016: Journal of the History of Biology
Garland E Allen
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
December 2016: Journal of the History of Biology
Everett Mendelsohn
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
December 2016: Journal of the History of Biology
John Beatty
This is the first of a two-part essay on the history of debates concerning the creativity of natural selection, from Darwin through the evolutionary synthesis and up to the present. Here I focus on the mid-late nineteenth century to the early twentieth, with special emphasis on early Darwinism and its critics, the self-styled "mutationists." The second part focuses on the evolutionary synthesis and some of its critics, especially the "neutralists" and "neo-mutationists." Like Stephen Gould, I consider the creativity of natural selection to be a key component of what has traditionally counted as "Darwinism...
December 2016: Journal of the History of Biology
Michael R Dietrich
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
December 2016: Journal of the History of Biology
Richard W Burkhardt
Just as biologists have their favored places for doing research, so do historians. As someone who likes working in archives, the most surprising thing the present author ever found was a particular letter that had been written to him by the ethologist Niko Tinbergen-but that Tinbergen had never sent. The letter included a detailed critique of the intellectual style and conceptual shortcomings of Tinbergen's career-long friend and colleague Konrad Lorenz. The present author first saw the letter 3 years after Tinbergen's death and 10 years after the letter was composed...
December 2016: Journal of the History of Biology
Diane B Paul
By the 1950s, eugenics had lost its scientific status; it now belonged to the context rather than to the content of science. Interest in the subject was also at low ebb. But that situation would soon change dramatically. Indeed, in an essay-review published in 1993, Philip Pauly commented that a "eugenics industry" had come to rival the "Darwin industry" in importance, although the former seemed less integrated than the latter. Since then, the pace of publication on eugenics, including American eugenics, has only accelerated, while the field has become even more fractured, moving in multiple and even contradictory directions...
December 2016: Journal of the History of Biology
William Bechtel
The pursuit of mechanistic explanations in biology has produced a great deal of knowledge about the parts, operations, and organization of mechanisms taken to be responsible for biological phenomena. Holist critics have often raised important criticisms of proposed mechanistic explanations, but until recently holists have not had alternative research strategies through which to advance explanations. This paper argues both that the results of mechanistic strategies has forced mechanists to confront ways in which whole systems affect their components and that new representational and modeling strategies are providing tools for understanding these effects of whole systems upon components...
December 2016: Journal of the History of Biology
Kim Kleinman
In introgressive hybridization (the repeated backcrossing of hybrids with parental populations), Edgar Anderson found a source for variation upon which natural selection could work. In his 1953 review article "Introgressive Hybridization," he asserted that he was "bringing taxonomy to the service of genetics" whereas distinguished colleagues such as Theodosius Dobzhansky and Ernst Mayr did the precise opposite. His work as a geneticist particularly focused on linkage and recombination and was enriched by collaborations with Missouri Botanical Garden colleagues interested in taxonomy as well as with cytologists C...
December 2016: Journal of the History of Biology
Jane Maienschein
Garland E. Allen's 1978 biography of the Nobel Prize winning biologist Thomas Hunt Morgan provides an excellent study of the man and his science. Allen presents Morgan as an opportunistic scientist who follows where his observations take him, leading him to his foundational work in Drosophila genetics. The book was rightfully hailed as an important achievement and it introduced generations of readers to Morgan. Yet, in hindsight, Allen's book largely misses an equally important part of Morgan's work - his study of development and regeneration...
December 2016: Journal of the History of Biology
Paul Lawrence Farber
Dobzhansky and Montagu debated the use and validity of the term "race" over a period of decades. They failed to reach an agreement, and the "debate" has continued to the present. The ms contains an account of the debate to the present. This essay is part of a Special Issue, Revisiting Garland Allen's Views on the History of the Life Sciences in the Twentieth Century.
December 2016: Journal of the History of Biology
Ry Marcattilio-McCracken
Though only one component product of the larger eugenics movement, the eugenic family study proved to be, by far, its most potent ideological tool. The Kallikak Family, for instance, went through eight editions between 1913 and 1931. This essay argues that the current scholarship has missed important ways that the architects of the eugenic family studies theorized and described the subjects of their investigation. Using one sparsely interrogated work (sociologist Frank Wilson Blackmar's "The Smoky Pilgrims") and one previously unknown eugenic family study (biologist Frank Gary Brooks' untitled analysis of the flood-zone Oklahomans) from the Southern Plains, this essay aims to introduce "environment" as a schema that allows for how the subjects of the eugenic family study were conceptualized with respect to their surroundings...
September 29, 2016: Journal of the History of Biology
Jean-Baptiste Grodwohl
This paper gives a detailed narrative of a controversial empirical research in postwar population genetics, the analysis of the cytological polymorphisms of an Australian grasshopper, Moraba scurra. This research intertwined key technical developments in three research areas during the 1950s and 1960s: it involved Dobzhansky's empirical research program on cytological polymorphisms, the mathematical theory of natural selection in two-locus systems, and the building of reliable estimates of natural selection in the wild...
August 1, 2016: Journal of the History of Biology
Alfons Billiau
The year 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of a publication by William Twort, in which he first described lysis of bacterial cultures by a filterable, self-replicating agent. In 1917, Félix d'Herelle, coined the name "bacteriophage" for the proposed agent. Two Belgian teams of microbiologists were among the few to critically examine the nature of the bacteriophage at that time. Although their experimental results agreed, their interpretations did not. Richard Bruynoghe (University of Louvain/Leuven) interpreted them as supportive of d'Herelle's notion of an ultramicroscopic microorganism...
August 2016: Journal of the History of Biology
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