George Evelyn Hutchinson

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George Evelyn Hutchinson (born January 30, 1903 in Cambridge , † May 17, 1991 in England) was an English limnologist and ecologist .

Live and act

He lived and worked in the USA until shortly before his death . In the English-speaking world, he is regarded as the "father of modern limnology" and also as the "father of ecology".

Hutchinson attended Gresham's School in Norfolk .

He began his scientific career studying aquatic insects, but initially developed into a physiologist . With a Rockefeller grant , he went to Naples , Italy in 1925 and studied hormonal effects on the development of frogs. In the same year he accepted a teaching position for zoology in Witwatersrand. There he worked on the systematics of Schnabelkerfen , came into contact with anthropological work in Africa and finally took part in an ecologically oriented study of local lakes and pans. In 1928 he received a postdoctoral fellowship at Yale University , which he was a member from now until his death. Since that time he has dealt intensively with the literature on inland waterways and the ecology of animals, as well as with the ideas of the time about the functional structure of communities of organisms. From then on he saw himself as a limnologist. In 1931/32 he took part in the great India expedition of Yale University.

From now on, Hutchinson devoted himself to all aspects of water and united the perspectives of the various natural sciences on the consideration of this subject. His work initially focused on the physical and chemical aspects of lakes and then increasingly included biological aspects, the interrelationships between living things and the chemical conditions in water, and finally aspects of evolutionary ecology. In this context, Hutchinson developed the concept of the ecological niche , which today belongs to the basic concepts of ecology and has also entered common parlance.

In 1950, Hutchinson published The Biogeochemistry of Vertebrate Excretion, which deals with guano and the biogeochemical cycle of phosphorus. To date, this is the most comprehensive and most cited work on guano.

From 1957 onwards, Hutchinson created a comprehensive textbook on limnology, the "Treatise on Limnology", the last volume of which was published posthumously in 1993. The author's scientific path is reflected in the sequence of topics.

Hutchinson has a rich family tree of well-known ecologists and limnologists around the world who did their doctorates with him or one of his students. His immediate students include W. Thomas Edmondson (1916–2000) Raymond Laurel Lindeman (1915–1942), Edward Smith Deevey , J. Shapiro, EA McLaren (with his student Heinz Löffler in Vienna), Howard T. Odum , Lawrence B Slobodkin, JR Vallentyne, Frederick Edward Smith and PH Klopfer, JL Brooks (with his student Jürgen Jacobs in Munich), to name only the most famous.

In 1949 Hutchinson was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences , in 1950 to the National Academy of Sciences (which awarded him the Daniel Giraud Elliot Medal in 1984 ) and in 1956 to the American Philosophical Society . In 1983 he was admitted to the Royal Society as a foreign member .


  • Survey of the contemporary knowledge of biogeochemistry: 3. The Biogeochemistry of vertebrate excretion. At the. Mus. Nat. Hist. Bull., 96, 1950, 554 pages
  • A treatise on limnology . Wiley, New York.
Vol. 1: Geography, Physics and Chemistry. 1957.
Vol. 2: Introduction to lake biology and the limnoplankton. 1967.
Vol. 3: Limnological Botany. 1975.
Vol. 4: The zoobenthos. 1993.
  • Homage to Santa Rosalia, or why are there so many kinds of animals? In: American Naturalist. Vol. 93, 1959, pp. 245-249.
  • The paradox of the plankton . In: American Naturalist. Vol. 95, 1961, pp. 137-145.
  • The Kindly Fruits of the Earth: Recollections of an Embryo Ecologist . Yale University Press, New Haven 1979, ISBN 0-300-02272-7 .


Individual evidence

  1. ^ Member History: G. Evelyn Hutchinson. American Philosophical Society, accessed October 7, 2018 .
  2. ^ Entry on Hutchinson, George Evelyn (1903-1991) in the Archives of the Royal Society , London

Web links