Aquatic and Wetland Plants:
Wet & Wild

26-31 July 2003

Arthur R. Outlaw Convention Center
Mobile, Alabama

Dr. E.O.Wilson
"The All-Species Initiative and the Future of Life"

Plenary Lecture
Sunday July 27, 2003

           Dr. Edward O. Wilson, Pellegrino University Research Professor, Emeritus, at Harvard University, is a preeminent biological theorist. He earned B.S. and M.A. degrees in biology from the University of Alabama, and a Ph.D. in biology from Harvard University. He joined the Harvard faculty in 1956 and distinguished himself over the next four decades as professor of zoology, curator in entomology at the Museum of Comparative Zoology, and researcher. His accomplishments include pioneering work on chemical communication in the 1950s to 1970s, featuring a first comprehensive account of pheromones in ants, and (with William H. Bossert) a first evolutionary analysis of the physical and chemical properties of pheromones; the creation (with Robert H. MacArthur) of the theory of biogeography, a basic part of modern ecology and conservation biology; the creation of the discipline of sociobiology, in 1975; the first modern syntheses of knowledge of social insects (1971) and (with Bert Halldobler) of ants in particular, in 1990. He also edited the volume Biodiversity, which in 1988 introduced the term and launched worldwide attention to the subject. In 1984, with Biophilia, he introduced the concept of a genetically based tendency to affiliate and bond with parts of the natural world. His The Diversity of Life (1992), which brought together knowledge of the magnitude of biodiversity and the threats to it, had a major public impact. Today he continues entomological and environmental research  at the Museum of Comparative Zoology. Two of his 21 books have been awarded Pulitzer prizes: On Human Nature (1978) and The Ants (1990, co-authored with Bert HĂlldobler). Wilson's book Sociobiology: The New Synthesis (1975) extended neo-Darwinism into the study of social behavior. Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge (1998) draws together the sciences, humanities, and the arts into a broad study of human knowledge. His book, The Future of Life (2002), offers a plan for saving Earth's biological heritage.    His most recent book is a monograph including 337 species new to science, Pheidole in the New World: A Hyperdiverse Ant Genus (Harvard, 2003). 

            In addition to his books, Dr. Wilson has written over 400 articles, most for scientific journals. Wilson has received some 75 awards in international recognition for his contributions to science and humanity, including the U.S. National Medal of Science (1976), Japan's International Prize for Biology (1993), the Crafoord Prize from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (1990), the French Prix du Institut de la Vie (1990), Germany's Terrestrial Ecology Prize (1987), Saudi Arabia's King Faisal International Prize for Science (2000), and the Franklin Medal of the American Philosophical Society (1999). For his conservation work he has received the Audubon Medal of the National Audubon Society and the Gold Medal of the World Wide Fund for Nature. He is also the recipient of 27 honorary doctoral degrees from North America and Europe.