To anyone interested in the history of natural history and the naturalist's tradition, I recommend "Ordering Life - Karl Jordan and the Naturalist Tradition" by Kristin Johnson (2012). It chronicles the life of Karl Jordan, a German entomologist (1861-1959) and his work with Walter Rothschild (1868-1937) among others. The son of a wealthy financier, Walter Rothschild amassed one of the largest private natural history collections in the world, known as the Tring Museum, which upon his death was bequeathed to the British Museum where Jordan eventually worked. Jordan was a Tring curator, taxonomist and flea and Anthribidae specialist. He emphasized the need for large series of specimens to encompass both individual and geographic variation and was a major proponent of trinomials to describe subspecies. Rothschild's and Jordan's 1903 "Revision of the lepidopterous family Sphingidae" raised the bar among entomologists practicing "scientific systematics" and remains a classic. Ordering Life also details how all scientific endeavors are influenced by the social, political and economic climates of the time, in this case the European aristocracy and two world wars. Both had great impacts on the ability of naturalists to conduct their work as did the emerging fields of genetics and applied entomology. Karl Jordan, who alone or with a coauthor described over 3,426 species of insects, published his last of 420 papers in 1958 and certainly played his part in ordering life.
Since the 1970's, The Lepidopterists Society has offered the Karl Jordan Medal every two years to the lepidopterist who has made the most outstanding contribution to lepidopera systematics over the last five years. you can read about it here: images.peabody.yale.edu/lepsoc/jls/1970s/1972/1972-26(4)207-Miller.pdf. Some truely great people have won across the world - my favorite is Keith Brown - who worked in Brasil most of career.
Lee and Jackie Miller were the primary supporters or the award from the onset, and Jackie is still deeply involved.
Post by Adam Cotton on Feb 20, 2015 7:47:18 GMT -8
Thanks exoticimports, I may as well take this oportunity to wish everyone here a happy birthday, no matter which day of the year it is.
Meanwhile I think it is very hard to imagine that anyone nowadays could rival the amazing feats of Karl Jordan. I strongly recommend anyone reading his work, much of which is available for download on www.biodiversitylibrary.org/. I especially recommend Jordan 1896. On mechanical selection and other problems. Novit. Zool., 3(4): 426-525.
I read over the article you recommended Adam, and I'm curious what progress has been made with the assumptions Karl made on transformation? Has the relatively short timeline of 50-100 years been re-evaluated since this publication?
Post by Adam Cotton on Feb 20, 2015 11:19:11 GMT -8
I'm not sure if any attempt has been made to evaluate 'transformation' rates, and in reality I doubt that there would be much change over such a small time period within a natural population in the same place.
Some things are not born out by my own experience. For instance "We know from many plants and a small number of animals that geographical races, when reared under conditions other than those of the country where the race lives, change in characters". I have reared many populations of Papilio machaon from various localities here in Chiang Mai and found that they always retained the parental phenotype. For instance Swedish machaon still looked the same, even when reared at 38C which is much higher than natural temperatures in Sweden.
On the other hand, some species clearly are much more prone to environmental effects on phenotype, and Jordan enumerates several of them. Cases such as Pieris rapae invading new habitats in the Americas and undergoing phenotype changes at the same time could partly be due to environment, but also could be due to higher prevalence of particular genes in the population with smaller genetic diversity than the European population it was derived from.