Ecology mourns the loss of Lovejoy and Wilson

Thomas Lovejoy (Photo: Inter-American Dialogue, Deforestation in the Amazon: Drivers and Policy Solutions via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)) and E.O. Wilson (Photo: Jim Harrison, CC BY 2.5 , via Wikimedia Commons).

A statement from Dean Sonia Altizer on the passing of E.O. Wilson and Thomas Lovejoy:

“The world lost two brilliant evolutionary ecologists and champions of conservation and biodiversity this week: Thomas Lovejoy and E.O. Wilson. Through their science and outreach, Wilson and Lovejoy deepened scientific understanding and public appreciation for biological diversity. They trained generations of scientists, and influenced countless others through their writings, lectures and policy work. Their contributions are etched into the collective memory of ecologists and evolutionary biologists around the world.”

Lovejoy completed his PhD at Yale University in 1971 and held leadership positions at the World Wildlife Fund, Smithsonian Institution, The H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment, and served as senior advisor to the United Nations and World Bank, among other roles. His work focused attention on biodiversity loss, especially in tropical ecosystems, including the impacts of climate change and habitat fragmentation. From a conservation perspective, Lovejoy proposed the idea of ‘debt for nature swaps’ to help protect biodiversity in developing countries. He passed away on Dec 26 at age 80, as reported by National Geographic.

Wilson completed his PhD at Harvard in 1955, and held faculty appointments at Harvard over five decades. He received numerous awards and medals for his work on social insect, sociobiology, biodiversity, and biogeography. Wilson was the world’s leading authority on ants, having described and named more than 400 species of ants. Wilson was a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner who published over two dozen books and hundreds of articles, many aimed at promoting public understanding of science and appreciation of biological diversity. He passed away at age 92, as reported by the New York Times on Dec. 27.