[…] This brings me to a small proposal: We go to great lengths commemorating soldiers who have died fighting wars for their countries. Why not do the same for the naturalists who still sometimes give up everything in the effort to understand life? (Neither would diminish the sacrifice of the other. In fact, many early naturalists were also soldiers, or, like Darwin aboard H.M.S. Beagle, were embedded with military expeditions.) With that in mind, I constructed a very preliminary Naturalists’ Wall of the Dead for my book, “The Species Seekers,” to at least assemble the names in one place. (A version of it can be viewed here.) […]
Yup, definitely WD Hamilton needs to be on the list, even if his death was the somewhat forseeable result of an old-ish man going into malarial jungles without taking anti-malarials. For what it’s worth, I got malaria (and dysentery, filariasis and giardia) while studying bonobos in the Congo in 2005, but fortunately I recovered from all!
IMO not a fair characterization of Bill. Bill was way under-appreciated as a naturalist. Even though he was primarily a theorist, he hiked farther and climbed more trees in many more deserts, jungles and boreal forests than most any “real” naturalist I know. He had an incredible detailed knowledge of (mostly) insect behavior and ecology and was often able to point out new facts to the “experts” once they took him to their field sites.
May I suggest Fernando Ortiz Crespo, Ecuadorian ornithologist who died studying birds in an Andean lake:
I quote from the Hummer Notes webpage:
“on 12 September 2001, our beloved Fernando drowned in a boating accident which claimed two other lives on Lake Micacocha high on Mount Antisana outside Quito, Ecuador. They were studying the birds of the lake.”
fulll note at: http://www.hummingbirds.net/humnotes.html
More about him in:
Joseph Brunete – one of the two botanical artists on the Spanish Expedición Botánica of 1777-1788 to South America. He died from a fall from his burro while out in the field. He was buried in Pasco, Peru.
When I was a student at University of Kansas, I remember a young woman, Shannon Martin, was murdered while studying ferns in Costa Rica. She was too young to have been famous, which makes it all the more tragic. Here’s a link to a related news article: http://www.kansan.com/news/2006/may/02/martin/
I think ornithologist Phoebe Snetsinger qualifies for your list (she died in a car crash on a birding trip to Madagascar in 1999). She was far more than a just a twitcher; her field notes have proved to be an invaluable aid in studying species/sub-species distribution. Many of the birds she identified have been reclassified as full species.
Shigeru Nakano (1962-2000) who died in Baja California on the same boat accident who killed the scorpion ecologist Gary Polis. Dr. Nakano was an excellent aquatic ecologist studying food webs.
I would also include the other scientists that died in the same boat accident: Takuya Abe and Masahiko Higashi professors from the University of Kyoto, and the post-doc researcher Michael Rose. http://warnercnr.colostate.edu/~kurtf/nakanotribute.html
Prominent zoologist and conservationist. Considered one of the world’s foremost primatologists (Mountain Gorillas) while she was alive. Found murdered in her cabin in Virunga Mountains, Rwanda (case unsolved).
This really brings up some interesting ideas about who deserves to be memorialized. She was certainly brave and important for our understanding of mountain gorilla behavior (though not really for running expeditions to discover new species or do general ecology). But the bigger point is that *everyone* in the primatology community knew she wasn’t mentally stable enough to work in Central Africa and they tried very, very hard to keep her in America, finding her good positions, etc. She eventually went back, kidnapped villagers’ children and was, unsurprisingly, found murdered. Sad, but completely a result of her own actions (actions that many people around her knew were leading inevitably to her death). I still think she deserves on the list, but it is such an interesting story and not nearly so one-sided as people assume. In my career, I’ve worked closely with some of Fossey’s closest associates in primatology from when she was alive, so I’ve gotten some interesting information.
Certainly she deserves to be on this list — it’s more of a statement of the interesting, dynamic and morally nuanced lives many naturalists live. It’s sad that hers involved so much direct confrontation with the local people so necessary for successful conservation, but her life paved the way for training of primatologists with much better tools to successfully negotiate the difficult tightrope walk between working to change local peoples’ attitudes and actions towards nature while respecting those peoples’ traditions and values as well. And she did pave the way with the mountain gorillas.
Just for the record, Ryan, Dian’s confrontations with ‘local people’ were mainly with poachers and corrupt officials. The local people she hired as camp staff and trackers she treated as if they were her extended family, paying their medical bills, teaching them to read and write, buying them gifts and even, on one occasion, delivering one of their babies! Those who are still with us are extremely loyal to her memory.
Outstanding project and much needed. I was on a biodiversity expedition in Papua New Guinea when I learned of the deaths of good friends Al Gentry and Ted Parker; needless to say, I was absolutely stunned.
I would nominate Bolivian botanist Elias Meneses, who died of falsiparum malaria contracted in Pando Department (Bolivia) while collecting tree specimens. He collected several new species of trees before dying in 1979 at approximately 50 years of age.
Suggest Dr Clive Marsh, field biologist who was instrumental in establishing the Tana River Primate Reserve in Kenya and the Danum Valley Conservation Area in Sabah, 49, 1951-2000, from an encephalitis-related illness obtained during field work in Laos. Dr Marsh fell into a coma in February and died in October. Here is a link to read more: http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Clive+Marsh.+(Memorials).-a093533234
I’m surprised no one has mentioned Steve Irwin yet. I’m leaning toward saying he doesn’t belong on the list, classifying him as entertainer rather researcher. On the other hand, he was an ardent conservationist and dedicated his life to education and conservation…and died doing it. He was an amateur, certainly, but there’s a long tradition of legitimate scientific contribution and excellence by amateur naturalists far from the ivory towers. Again, I probably wouldn’t add him, but it’s food for thought.
Irwin, Stephen Robert (22 February 1962 – 4 September 2006) Wildlife expert, and conservationist. Irwin achieved worldwide fame from the television series The Crocodile Hunter, a wildlife documentary series. While filming underwater at the Great Barrier Reef on 4 September 2006, Irwin was killed when his heart was pierced by a stingray’s serrated barb.
Joseph Louis Conrad Kirouac, known as Brother Marie-Victorin. Founder of the Botanical Garden in Montréal. Educator and author of a major Flora for the southern region of the Province of Québec, Canada. Died in a car accident on a plant collecting trip. Please see this Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marie-Victorin
Thank you for listing my son, Nathaniel Gerhart (please note correct spelling. 1975–2007 is correct). He rediscovered the selva cacique (thought to be extinct) in 1998 in Peru. He died in a road accident while studying rain forest conservation in Indonesia.
Walter Egler, Brazilian, Amazon zoologist, drowned during an expedition
George Black (1916-1957), U.S.-born, Amazon botanist, drowned during an expedition
Hermógenes de Freitas Leitão Filho, Brazilian botanist, died of a heart attack in the field.
You might check your info on Georg (not George) Markgraf, who although he was a pioneering naturalist in Brazil actually died in Angola, from what I have read.
Noel Kempff Mercado (1924-1986), Bolivian biologist, was scouting out a new national park in Santa Cruz department when his group landed at what they thought was an abandoned airstrip but turned out to be a cocaine factory. He was murdered, and the national park was subsequently named for him.
Are you familiar with Ralph Stewart’s article, “How did they die?” see link http://www.jstor.org/stable/1222028?seq=1
Thomas Drummond, naturalist (ca. 1790-1835) http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fdr08
He collected 750 species of plants and 150 specimens of birds, a feat that stimulated the later studies of such botanical collectors as Ferdinand Jacob Lindheimer and Charles Wright. Drummond had hoped to make a complete botanical survey of Texas, but he died in Havana, Cuba, in March 1835, while making a collecting tour of that island.
Dr. Dennis M. Devaney of the Bernice P. Bishop Museum died in a scuba-diving accident on August 13, 1983, as he was investigating shrimp offshore from the Big Island of Hawaii.
Dennis M. Devaney, 1938-1983, was invertebrate zoologist at Bishop Museum. He was a specialist on ophiuroids, and disappeared on a dive collecting trip at north end of the island of Hawaii. Several species and the genus Devania are named for him […]. (Dr. Lucius Eldredge, Bishop Museum, kindly provided this information).
Pehr Löfling (31 January 1729 – 22 February 1756) was a student of Linnaeus, and died during an expedition to what is now Venezuela. The cause of death is debated, but seems to have been either malaria or yellow fever. Löefling is believed to be the first person to bring a microscope to Venezuela, and the first naturalist to make careful observations about the flora and fauna of the country. Linnaeus later published the Iter Hispanicum based on Löfling’s notes.
Pablo Barbadillo was a young and very enthusiastic Spanish biologist who died in 2008 while doing his doctoral dissertation field work in Amazonian Peru. He was based at the Los Amigos Biological Station (CICRA)in the Madre de Dios department, and he was studying the populations of large reptiles and how humans interacted with them. He left CICRA for a few days in mid April to survey the reptiles and people near a small town upriver on the Madre de Dios and did not return. CICRA staff and regional police found his body many days later and the cause of death was never, to my knowledge, determined. Here are news articles about it: http://www.telecinco.es/informativos/internacional/noticia/35273/El+cuerpo+de+Pablo+Barbadillo+presentaba+muchas+mordeduras+y+picaduras
A couple of other worthy additions to the list for your consideration:
James R. Silliman, Ph.D., ornithologist and ecologist (195?-1983), graduate of the University of Arizona – best known for his ornithological work in Nicaragua, killed in a car accident in Leon, Nicaragua in early 1983.
Waldron DeWitt Miller (1879-1929), ornithologist, Associate Curator of Birds at the American Museum of Natural History, who was killed in a motorcycle accident just before completing a full account of the birds of Nicaragua that was to be coauthored with Ludlow Griscom of the American Museum of Natural History.
Wildlife Conservation Loses Ardent Defender
Son, brother, uncle, friend.
Born December 16, 1958 in Goderich, Ontario.
Died June 29, 2003, age 44, near Nanyuki, Kenya in a light aircraft accident while radio tracking lions for
the Laikipia Predator Project.
Also the pilot who died along with Ian was an American who volunteered his time and the airplane to support research projects like Ian’s. Can’t remember his name.
Josiah Gregg (1806-1850), author of “Commerce of the Prairies” (1844), merchant, plant collector, explorer, physician.
“After the end of the expedition in the summer of 1849 Gregg sailed for San Francisco, left his field notes with Jesse Sutton, who had settled there, and joined in the gold rush to the mother-lode country. In October he led an exploring party through the uncharted redwood forests and discovered Humboldt Bay. The party named the Van Duzen and Eel rivers and other familiar landmarks in that area. On the return trip to San Francisco the group split into two, Gregg’s division turning inland to Clear Lake. Exhausted from vigorous travel, near-starvation, and continuous exposure to severe weather, Gregg died on February 25, 1850, as a result of a fall from his horse, and was buried near the lake.” Quote from Gregg article by H. Allen Anderson at the Texas State Historical Association web site, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fgr51.
You should also add David Smith, one of the finest botanists I ever met. David worked for the Missouri Botanical Gardens and had nearly completed an amazing flora of the eastern Andes when he died Feb 7, 1991 from a leg infection picked up on a field expedition (http://www.jstor.org/pss/3391506). David and I worked together in the Chapare region of Bolivia, and barely survived a very mis-timed encounter with coca producers there (during which David barely flinched). A classic field biologist whose encyclopedic knowledge of Andean flora is now sadly lost to the world.
You should include Marco Antonio Serna. Naturalist and Ornithologist. Colombian. 1936 – 1991. Died in the field in the Colombian Magdalena & Cauca valleys lowlands while doing fieldwork (looking for to collecting specifically specimens of the hard-to-catch Little Tinamou for the museum [that he created] of Natural History at San Jose de la Salle school where we was professor also). Marco Antonio Serna was funder of the local Antioquia Ornithological Society (SAO) where a grant fund was just established in his honor (http://www.sao.org.co/clasificados/BecasMarcoAntonioSernaSAO.pdf). A neat video of Ramon Cadavid (field partner of collecting expeditions of Marco Antonio) narrating the trip when Marco Antonio died is available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UihgbaE0M_I (only Spanish)
I would like to nominate the legendary California field ornithologist and conservationist Michael San Miguel (1939-2010), who died last July while conducting an owl survey in the San Gabiels: an environmental survey in Angeles National Forest for a SoCal Edison transmission project. Heartbreaking obit here, written by another great California ornithologist, Kimball Garrett: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/inlandcountybirds/message/7831
Thanks for including the report of the tragic and untimely death of Mr. Leonardo Co in the Philippines in 2010. Mr. Co is probably the only unfortunate one in the botanical history of the Philippines who died by being gunned down by reckless soldiers in the field who took the group of plant collectors as members of the underground rebels of the Philippine Communist Party without asking first for the identity.
Here is his birth and dead dates of Mr. Co for your record documentation.
Louis Aggasiz Fuertes (1874 – 1927), one of the most influential naturalists and painters of his day. There is a Wikipedia page with links to his art at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Agassiz_Fuertes. He participated in many expeditions to remote places, including the Harriman expedition to Alaska, several trips in Central and South America, and a major expedition to Abyssinia (Ethiopia). He was killed at the age of 53 by a train that struck his car at a crossing near his home town of Ithaca, NY.
Geoffrey Howorth Spencer Wood (1927, Vowchurch, Hereforshire, England; Forest botanist in Sandakan (N. Borneo or Sabah)died May 6,Kuala Belait, N. Borneo while preparing his collections and pouring alcohol over them too near to the campfire. He burned to dead. One of his helpers caried him to civilation, but too late.
Jean Pierre Armand David (1826 – 1900) also known as Père David deserves a mention here. He was a French Missionary worker who did extensive work in China. In fact, the famous Père David’s Deer in England are a direct result of his works.
Thank you all for these suggestions, most of which I have now added to the list. I have omitted Charles Darwin, Armand David, Margaret Mee, and Louis Aggasiz Fuertes because, while undoubtedly admirable and important, all died at home at a natural age, if not of natural causes.
I have omitted Steve Irwin because so much of his work was about getting in the faces of animals, rather than watching and learning from them.
I thought Margaret Mee was killed in a traffic accident in England. I remember thinking that she survived all those trips up the Amazon, only to be killed in the UK. Wikipedia says “Margaret Mee died following a car crash in Seagrave, Leicestershire on 30 November 1988. She was 79 years old. In January 1989 a memorial to her life, botanical work and environmental campaigning took place in Kew Gardens.” I heard her speak at the Smithsonian, and I think she fits your criteria.
David Gaines (1947-1988) , who studied birds in the Sierra Nevada, should be added. He was the main impetus behind saving Mono Lake from SoCal’s unquenchable desire for water. He is author of The Birds of the Yosemite and the East Slope. He died in a car accident near Mono Lake. A good biography is at http://creagrus.home.montereybay.com/CAwhoDAG.html.
Also, Joe Slowinski was the Curator of Herpetology at the California Academy of Sciences when he died.
I am touched by this list of naturalists.
Robert Silberglied (1946-1982) http://siarchives.si.edu/findingaids/FARU7316.htm#FARU7316h
He was an entomologist, field biologist, Associate professor and Curator of Lepidoptera at Harvard, Researcher at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in residence at Barro Colorado Island, Panama, and did field work in the US, Costa Rica, Panama, Ecuador, Colombia. One of his specialities was matching larvae to adult tropical butterflies by raising them up. He died in the Air Florida accident in Washington DC in January 1982.
Bob was a great guy. I was on a field trip with him (1965 Mexico)that my dad WL Brown led. Three of four graduate students on that trip died as young men. I was 12, his crazy energy left a lasting impression.
I seem to recall a female grad student who was working at a field station in eastern California during the mid-1990’s, who contracted Hanta virus and died. Can’t remember her name. Maybe this note will jog some memories,…
Minor corrections: Shannon Martin was at the University of Kansas, not Kansas University. Michael San Miguel likely died in the San Gabriel Mtns. (not Gabiel).
C. V. Riley was among the most famous entomologists in US History. He was responsible for implementing biological control for citrus scale in California, rescuing the fledgling citrus industry there. He was also awarded the French Legion of Honor for “saving” the European wine industry from phylloxera.
“On September 14, 1895 Riley died in a fatal bicycle accident. As he was riding rapidly down a hill, the bicycle wheel struck a granite paving block dropped by a wagon. He catapulted to the pavement and fractured his skull. He was carried home on a wagon and never regained consciousness. He died at his home the same day at the age of 52, leaving his wife with six children.”–direct quote from Wikipedia, and the information is, as far as I know, true.
J. Stuart Rowley, an ornithologist and vertebrate specimen collector in the 1960s perhaps associated with the Univ. California at Berkeley, http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Stuart_Rowley
Wrote an account of breeding birds of the Sierra Madre del Sur, Oaxaca, Mexico, in 1966 and was well known for his mammal and other vertebrate specimen collections for US museums. I had heard through the museum community that he was found murdered, the attached obituary lists the 1968 date of death but I could find no other details on his life or passing.
Charles Bogert (1968, AMNH Novitates #2341) described the snake Bothrops rowleyi (now Bothriechis rowleyi) in 1968, the year of Rowley’s death with the annotation that “Mr. Rowley was killed when he fell from a cliff in the Sierra de Cuatro Venados in May, 1968, while this account was in press” and Bogert acknowledged much of Rowley’s endeavors with vertebrate research in southern Oaxaca and the Isthmus of Tehauntepec, Mexico.
And Prince Ruspoli, who gave his name to one of world’s most beautiful, threatened and rare birds, the Ethiopian endemic Prince Ruspoli’s Turaco, whose first specimen was found in the prince’s hunting bag after he was trampled to death by an elephant
Prince Ruspoli’s Turaco (Vulnerable), is a macaw-sized bird with scarlet and navy-blue wings, long tail and green-and-white head. It was first discovered among the personal effects of Prince Ruspoli after he was crushed to death by an elephant in 1893. As the unfortunate nobleman had not had time to label the specimen, its origins remained a mystery for half a century before the species was seen in the wild by an English naturalist in southern Ethiopia.
Worth Hamilton Weller (1913-1931), at the age of 18 fell off a cliff on Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina while collecting specimens of a newly discovered salamander (Weller’s Salamander, Plethodon welleri). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worth_Hamilton_Weller
There were two others- a Czech beetle person who died quietly under a tree in Indochina in the last couple of years, and a German moth expert who died in a car smash in Thailand about 10 years ago while collecting.
I see Captain Cook listed but he was not really the naturalist on board during his three voyages into the Pacific – an explorer yes, naturalist, not really. Banks, Solander, Forster were the naturalists who disembarked to collect. Cpt. Jim did the bargaining at the shoreline.
A tribute to these dedicated researchers is a great idea. I thought immediately of Rick Seegmiller, a graduate student who perished in 1983 while studying bighorn sheep in the Harquahala Mountains of Arizona, shortly after I met him. Looking up reference information to provide more details, I learned that the University of Arizona already has a memorial garden “dedicated to those who have lost their lives working for Arizona’s wildlife resources.” A Web page about the garden, at http://www.aztws.org/Memorial_Garden.htm, offers information about Seegmiller and six other men. Most of them died during wildlife management activities (game surveys, emergency feeding sorties, etc.), but Rick was conducting more basic ecological research. Here’s the statement about him from the memorial garden’s site:
Richard (Rick) F. Seegmiller. Ph.D. candidate. Rick was a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Arizona’s School of Renewable Natural Resources, studying desert bighorn sheep in the Harquahala Mountains near Salome. The 31-yr old had previously completed his Bachelor of Science degree in wildlife management and a Masters of Science in Zoology at Arizona State University. He was already well published and respected on the ecology of desert ungulates, particularly bighorn sheep. Rick died on February 6, 1983 in a small plane crash in the Harquahala Mountains when he was radiotracking the collared sheep. The pilot and another observer on the flight escaped fatal injury in the crash.
“Erwin F. Evert (2/13/1940 – 6/17/2010), had a “fatal encounter with a grizzly bear” June 17, 2010, while on his daily botanical walk in the Shoshone National Forest oy Wyoming. He spent nearly 40 years botanizing in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem and found five new species of plants. SHortly before his death, Mr. Erwin published Vascular Plants of the Greater Yellowstone Area: An Annotated Catalog and Atlas.
Richard G. Van Gelder. Mammalogist at American Museum of Natural History. Died fairly young and in the US I believe. He got falciparum malaria from being in the field in Kenya. He told me that he reckoned he got it at “Treetops.” I’ve heard that his eventual death was brought on by the ongoing effects of the malaria. I can’t vouch for the accuracy of that statement but if you can’t find anything easily online about this, I can ask some people who should know. Also a guy named A. (Abel?) Fornes, an Argentine mammalogist who died young from hydrocyanic gas in a well in which he was trying to kill, by use of the gas, a colony of vampire bats. His gas mask leaked. Again, if you can’t easily find anything on this, let me know and I’ll try to ask around.
Timothy Plowman (1944-1989), monographer of the genus Erythroxylum and eminent Amazonian ethnobotanist stationed at the Field Museum in Chicago, died of AIDS received as a result of “pre-trip inoculations.” Wade Davis has written much about him. Stories circulate among botanists that a dirty needle was used at the border of Venezuela, others insist it was Peru, in a forced yellow fever inoculation, but beyond “pre-trip inoculations,” nothing else can be certified from published sources.
Tom E. Lockwood (1941-1975), monographer of the genus Brugmansia and Professor of Botany at the University of Illinois-Urbana, died during of an auto accident in Mexico during a field trip with students.
I’d like to nominate two colleagues, Dick Fitzner and Les Eberhardt, wildlife ecologists who died in a plane crash in the Columbian Basin while doing aerial radio-telemetry surveys. Link to a memorium published by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, for whom they both worked as environmental scientists: http://science-ed.pnl.gov/awards/memory.stm
Thank you for this list, a very nice tribute to those who have died in the line of service.
Please make one correction. On June 3, 1992, Dick Fitzner, died in a plane crash while studying Sage Grouse. He was an employee of Battelle Pacific Northwest Laboratories and was under contract with the U.S. Army. The accident occurred atop Yakima Ridge, Northeast of Yakima, Washington, in the Army’s Yakima Firing Center, not in the Amazon as noted in the “Wall of the Dead”. Dick was 45 years old. He preceded me as a Ph.D. student under Don E. Miller at Washington State University. See the following reports:
[…] column, of naturalists who died in the course of discovery. The several dozen additions to The Wall of the Dead include an Italian prince who was trampled to death by an enraged elephant (but discovered one of […]
Leo Schibli (1958-2004) of SERBO in Oaxaca involved with scores of botanical field trips to survey the flora of Oaxaca and consequently discovered several new species of plants including cycads and orchids died of a heart attack at the age of 46.
I don’t know the name, but sometime in the mid or late 1990’s (1997?) a graduate student studying at Palo Verde Biological Station in Costa Rica was killed by a swarm of Africanized bees. They told us all about it when we visited as undergraduates in 1998.
This was Inn Siang Ooi, a botany student from the University of Miami. In 1986, he was on a steep Costa Rican hillside when he encountered a large, exposed nest of Africanized bees. He fell or climbed into a crevice and became stuck. Three rescuers trying to reach him were stung so badly they collapsed. Ooi’s body was retrieved after dark, when the bees returned to their nest. He had been stung 8,000 times, an average of seven stings per square centimeter.
Winston, M.L. 1992. Killer Bees: The Africanized Honey Bee in the Americas. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass.
Excerpts from the local Miami paper:
UM Student Dead
Attacked By Bees While In Costa Rica
August 09, 1986|By JEAN THOMPSON, Sun Sentinel, Miami Bureau
The student, Inn-Siang Ooi, 24, who was on a study excursion was stung to death July 31 by a swarm of the fierce bees while he explored a rocky, cave- filled hillside at a wildlife refuge 150 miles northwest of San Jose.
An autopsy performed in San Jose determined that Ooi suffered about 46 bee stings per square inch of his body. Doctors there called it the first death in Costa Rica caused by a bee attack.
Ooi [was] a graduate of Knox College in Illinois…
“His plan was to be involved in environmental research and improved agricultural development in Malaysia after getting his degree,” Savage said.
This is an excellent website and way overdue. I had been independently collecting names of entomologists who died unnatural deaths and had recently expanded that to include all naturalists. A small portion of these have been published (just those entomologists who died researching flies) as I herewith supply a link to the pages of that pdf file. I have another 100 names — many of which are in addition to those persons listed here, but as such, the list is too lengthy to post all with all their stories. Let me know how to get these files to you. <a href="http://hbs.bishopmuseum.org/dipterists/dead-fly-workers.pdf" http://hbs.bishopmuseum.org/dipterists/dead-fly-workers.pdf
Another figure to add to your impressive list is Friedrich Sellow (1789-1831), who gathered important materials in Brazil, most especially as a botanist and zoologist. He drowned crossing a river in Brazil during the conduct of his work, leaving rich collections at Berlin and Vienna.
I propose Jan Kielland.
Jan Kielland 1923 – 1995, author of Butterflies of Tanzania, spent 50 years studying butterflies across Tanzania. He described and published 144 taxa of Afrotropical butterflies. He was killed when his car hit a stranded lorry in the dark on his way to get permits for a survey in southern Tanzania.
Eight rangers in Parc National Des Virungas in DRC (mostly organized around mountain gorilla conservation) were killed yesterday in an attack, probably perpetrated by the FDLR. http://gorillacd.org/blog/
One of those on the Dead Fly Workers list (posting no. 79) is Ernest Gerald Gibbins (1900-1942), who did research on mosquitoes and black flies, speared to death by locals in Uganda while he was investigating a yellow fever outbreak. Apparently, his attackers believed that the blood samples he was taking were intended for witchcraft purposes. An investigating policeman was quoted as saying that Gibbins’ body was “…as full of spears as a bloody porcupine.”
The mosquito Anopheles gibbinsi is named for him.
How could I forget to mention Maria Koepcke (1924-1971), one of the most famous Neotropical ornithologists? Born and trained in Germany, she moved to Peru in 1950, where she collaborated with her husband Hans-Wilhelm Koepcke, and eventually became Curator of Ornithology at the Natural History Museum in Lima. She wrote and illustrated Las Aves del Departamento de Lima (1964), translated as The Birds of the Department of Lima (1970), which appeared shortly before her death in an airplane crash over Amazonia on Christmas Eve, 1971. The Koepcke’s 17-year-old daughter, Juliane, was the lone survivor, who fell thousands of feet while still strapped to her chair. Mother and daughter had been flying to meet Hans-Wilhelm at a field station in Amazonia for the holiday. Despite injuries, Juliane managed to walk for ten days until she was found, always following waterways downhill, as she had been taught to do if ever lost. Two movies, one by Werner Herzog, have been made about her miraculous survival, and–now a well-known mammalogist–she will publish her memoir (in German), When I Fell From the Sky, in March, 2011. Her mother, Maria, was honored by having three birds named in her honor: Koepcke’s Screech Owl, Koepcke’s Hermit, and Selva Cacique (Cacicus koepckeae).
Joy Adamson (20 January 1910 – 3 January 1980) (born Friederike Victoria Gessner) was a naturalist, artist and author best known for her book, Born Free, which describes her experiences raising a lion cub named Elsa. Born Free was printed in several languages and made into an Academy Award-winning movie of the same name. Found murdered in her camp, made to look like it had been done by a lion.
George Adamson (3 February 1906 – 20 August 1989), also known as the “Baba ya Simba” (“Father of Lions” in Swahili), was a British wildlife conservationist and author. He and his wife Joy Adamson are best known through the movie Born Free and best selling book with the same title, which is based on the true story of Elsa the Lioness, an orphaned lioness cub they raised and later released into the wild. Shot dead in Kora reserve by Somali bandits
Edith Holden 1871-1920, British naturalist and natural history illustrator, most famous for ‘Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady’, fell into the River Thames at Kew and drowned while collecting blossom from a horse chestnut tree for an illustration.
Norman Veitch Lothian (Dr., Major) killed in a car accident in
May 1929 in Beyreuth while researching malaria. An American malariologist and fellow member of the League of Nations Malaria Commission ‘Dr. Darling’ was killed in the same accident, and the ‘Lothian Scholarship’ and ‘Darling Prize’ for Malaria research were created in their honour.
I’m not sure if he qualifies, but a former acquaintance of mine, Dr. (PhD) Michael Perich, an entomologist employed by LSU who was working on the epidemiology of West Nile virus, died in an automobile accident near Baton Rouge in October 2003. However, the news account at the time (http://tinyurl.com/4cq24r5) did not specify whether the accident was work-related.
Norman Veitch Lothian 31/7/1889 – 21/5/1925
Scottish Medical entomologist and League of Nations Malaria commission ‚Field Epidemiologist’
Samuel Taylor Darling 6/4/1872– 21/5/1925
‚Darling of Panama’: US Medical entomologist and member of the League of Nations Malaria commission
killed in the same car accident in Beirut, while researching malaria mosquito epidemiology in the near-east. ‘Lothian Scholarship’ and ‘Darling Prize’ for Malaria research were created in their honour.
Professor Aldo Leopold (1887-1948), father of wildlife ecology who helped found The Wildlife Society and the Wilderness Society, died of a heart attack while battling a wildfire on his neighbor’s property.
And can you come up with a better name than “The Wall of the Dead”? Sounds like someting from a horror movie. Maybe something along the line of “The Wall of Honor.”
Three avian biologist from Florida Atlantic University died a couple of years back in a plane crash in the Everglades conducting wading bird monitoring. Not exactly discovering new species, but promising young scientists that died in pursuit of biological knowledge nonetheless. Knowledge that may prove invaluable for conservation biology. http://www.science.fau.edu/biology/gawliklab/memorial/memorial.html
LueJiang Wang (1963-2000), a promising young paleoceanographer, died in a diving accident. Raised in China, he did post-doctoral research in Germany and had become a professor in Japan at Hokkaido University. He was studying the geological history of monsoons in China using fossil planktonic foraminifera and other tools.
Annette Barthelt (1963-1987), Marco Buchalla (1959-1987), Hans-Wilhelm Halberg (1963-1987), Daniel Rein Schmidt (1959-1987): These four young marine biologists from the University of Kiel in Germany were all killed in a terrorist attack in Djibouti while waiting to board a three-month expedition of the German research vessel Meteor in the Indian Ocean. (Thirteen were killed in all, and four other Kiel scientists were seriously wounded.) http://www.annette-barthelt-stiftung.de/index.htm#Sprengladung
Orchid biologist- Miguel Ángel Soto Arenas, assassinated in his home. See Hágsater 2010 in Lankasteriana
Also, Universidad de los Andes students Margarita Gomez and Matthew Matamala Neme, shot multiple times while in San Bernardo de Viento on January 11, 2011 while documenting biodiversity on Caribbean Beaches.
Wonderful project. I submit three I did not see in your list.
Edward Flanders Robb Ricketts (14 May 1897 – 11 May 1948), better known as Doc in Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, pioneering marine ecologist, wrote Between Pacific Tides, still in print, and co-wrote Sea of Cortez with John Steinbeck. Died when a train hit his car in Monterey, CA.
John R.H. Gibbons (1946-1986), herpetologist, decribed several species of lizards in Fiji, including the spectacular Fiji Island iguana. Died along with his entire family in a boating accident off the island of Lekeba.
Clarence J. McCoy (1935-1993). Curator of herpetology at the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh, PA. Described new lizards, turtles,salamaners, and an amphisbaenian in North and South America. Died of a heart attack age 57.
So glad Hezy has been proposed – he was an all round naturalist, conservationist and a wonderful teacher, inspiring people of all nationalities with his fascinating for all life-forms and their evolutionary relationships, especially but not limited to those with trunks! He is greatly missed at CITES conferences and zoological gatherings which are not the same without his infectious mirth.
Skiles, Wes (1958-2010). pioneering underwater cinematographer, still photographer and conservationist, worked with National Geographic and scientific research teams to explore caves and their hidden marine life, died on assignment off the coast of Florida.
T. Preston Webster III (1947-1975), herpetologist, killed in a car crash in Montana, USA. Webster was best known as a pioneer of gel electrophoresis techniques for elucidating species relationships, and he was among the first to describe “cryptic species” using molecular data. Webster conducted extensive fieldwork on the Anolis lizards of the Caribbean, as well as salamanders in the southeastern USA. He has since been immortalized with the names of an anole (Anolis websteri; Arnold 1980) and a salamander (Plethodon websteri; Highton 1979).
Herbert L. Stoddard (1889-1970one of the most important southern conservationists of the twentieth century, developed a method of forest management in the longleaf-wiregrass region of Georgia that is still widely practiced today. Also known as an authority on the bobwhite quail, Stoddard advocated the reintroduction of fire as a land management tool, at a time when powerful forest interests considered burns to be a plague on the land. Along with his friend and colleague Aldo Leopold, Stoddard also helped to establish the profession of wildlife management, and he was among the first to critique from an ecological perspective the nation’s move toward industrialized agriculture
Archie Fairly Carr, Jr. (June 16, 1909–May 21, 1987) was a Professor of Zoology at the University of Florida, a herpetologist, ecologist and a pioneering conservationist. In 1987 he was awarded the Eminent Ecologist Award by the Ecological Society of America. He made extraordinary contribution to sea turtle conservation by way of bringing attention to the world’s declining turtle populations due to over-exploitation and loss of safe habitat.
What about Jaques Cousteau and Steve Irwin “The Crocodile Hunter” –these heroic naturalists and conservationists truly need to be on this list.
Jacques-Yves Cousteau (11 June 1910 – 25 June 1997) was a French naval officer, explorer, ecologist, filmmaker, innovator, scientist, photographer, author and researcher who studied the sea and all forms of life in water. He co-developed the aqua-lung, pioneered marine conservation and was a member of the Académie française. He was also known as “le Commandant Cousteau” or “Captain Cousteau”.
Stephen Robert Irwin (22 February 1962 – 4 September 2006) Australian television personality, wildlife expert, and conservationist.
Irwin achieved worldwide fame from the television series The Crocodile Hunter, an internationally broadcast wildlife documentary series which he co-hosted with his wife Terri. Together, the couple also co-owned and operated Australia Zoo, founded by Irwin’s parents in Beerwah, about 80 km (50 miles) north of the Queensland state capital city of Brisbane.
Irwin died on 4 September 2006 after being pierced in the chest by a stingray barb while filming in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Since her husband’s death, Terri Irwin has continued to operate Australia Zoo and raise their two children. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ship MY Steve Irwin was named in his honour.
I’d like to add James D. Anderson, herpetologist and taxonomist who described several snake and salamander species. His name was memorialized in Ambystoma andersoni, a species he discovered in Mexico. He was my major professor at Rutgers in Newark, N.J. Died in the early 1980s in a car accident on a field trip to study bog turtles.
Otakar Brodsky (?- 1986) died of a heart attack while collecting Cleridae beetles in a rainforest in Vietnam; what I heard was that he was seated under a tree with his collecting equipment in his hands, and his colleagues didn’t immediately realise he was dead…
small correction concerning Brown, Kirsty M. : according to wikipedia she worked for the British Antarctic “Survey” not the British Antarctic “Service”,
the wikipedia entry is referenced with links from NewScientist and National Geographic
Many Australians will remember Richard Zann, who studied the Zebra Finch in field and aviary, as well as lyrebird mimicry and the fauna of Krakatau. He died aged 64 with his wife and daughter in the Black Saturday bushfires of February 2007. Sadly missed.
Rudolf Kaufmann, German paleontologist; made early contributions to the study of allopatric speciation. Was persecuted in Nazi Germany because of his German heritage. Shot by guards in Lithuania in 1941, while trying to flee.
I’ve attended the Sandhill Crane Festival here for many years and have been involved with the volunteer committee for the last few. We have a speaker who talks about the life of Leopold and his daughter also attends and gives talks. She’s also a naturalist and a researcher.
That said, I enjoyed reading this post and I’m going to follow your blog as I find your topics very interesting.
I could not find where Dr. Elisha Mitchell is listed? He determined that Mt. Mitchell in North Carolina was the highest peak east of the Mississippi – later during one of his expeditions he slipped and fell 40 feet to his death.
Ryan Beaulieu (1987-2005) was a New Mexico teen who pioneered the banding and research program for rosy finches in the Sandia Mountains. He was killed in an automobile accident while on a birding trip.
A small correction if I may, to your entry “Arenas, Miguel Angel Soto”. It should actually ready “Soto Arenas, Miguel Angel” (listed under “S”). Family (Last) names in México are compound-nouns, made usually of the combination of the Father and Mother last names respectively. Thank you in advance.
Ooops, forgot to add – In a google search I found several botany-oriented websites referencing his work, and it does appear under “Soto Arenas, M” or variations of it. Here’s one example, hope it is useful:
As a reader familiar with your admirable work here [a few weeks back I submitted the name of field ornithologist Mike San Miguel], you can imagine the start of recognition when I read these words about the death of a zoologist — written in the 1860s: [Filippo de Filippi] “fell, as a soldier on the field of battle, a victim to his love of Natural Science.”
De Filippi was the naturalist on board the Magenta, an Italian ship circumnavigating the globe on a government-sponsored scientific voyage. He died en route to Hog Kong “of dysentery and liver trouble,” according to Wikipedia. The words above were written by his assistant and successor, Henry Hillyer Giglioli. Giglioli named De Filippi’s Petrel [Aestrelata defilippiana] in honor of predecessor.
Claudio Posa Bohome (1965-2010). Equatoguinean professor in the Universidad Nacional de Guinea Eciatorial, specialized in botany and ethnobotany. In January 2010, he became acute ill while in a biodiversity expedition to the Gran Caldera de Luba, in the remote southern part of Bioko Island, Equatorial Guinea. He died, aged 44, soon after being evacuated to hospital.
Jordi Magraner (1959-2002). Spanish zoologist working at the Natural History Museum of Paris, he quited his position at the Museum in order to start an independent research project in Northwest Pakistan, studying the facts and legends surrounding the Barmanu. The Barmanu is an hominid-like creature that local people consider as inhabiting the remote Chitral Mountains.
After many years of research, Magraner eventually settled in Chitral and continued his studies living among the local people from the pagan and marginalised Kalash tribe, who considered him as their protector.
In 2002, the instability that followed the US-led invasion of Afghanistan spilled over to this area which lays near the Afghan border. In August 2nd 2002 he was murdered, age 43, along with his 12-year old assistant by two of his former afghan assistants. The exact motives remain unclear, but some weeks before his death he had been urged by Pakistan officials to left the area.
He was buried by the Kalash in the local town of Bumburet.
[…] or naturalists out there who go in the field to collect beetles, take note. Here’s a list of naturalists (Wall of the Dead) who have lost their lives while investigating nature. Of particular interest: […]
Kotaseao, Vickson, research associate at the Wei Institute in Papua New Guinea and the first person to discover the larva of the jewel beetle genus Calodema. Mr. Kotaseao was brutally murdered in an ambush while on duty at the Institute.
Source: Nylander, U. 2008. Review of the genera Calodema and Metaxymorpha (Coleoptera: Buprestidae: Stigmoderini) Folia Heyrovskyana, Supplementum 13, 1-84 (review).
Dear Richard, amazing compilation! each character has its own mysterious drama that makes very interesting. You are mising the most prominent Colombian naturalist from the 2nd half of the XX C, Dr. Jorge Ignacio Hernandez-Camacho (AKA “Mono” Hernandez or even El Sabio Hernandez) an authority on anything Neotropical. He died from a heart attack while visiting a mangrove area near Cartagena, Colombia, an area later declared as a small protected area (3,850 Ha) christened with his name = Santuario de Fauna y Flora El Corochal “El Mono Hernandez”. Several plant and animal (lizards and frogs)spceies have been named in his honor.
Cheng, Yu-Pin (1966-2009), a botanist and ecologist at Taiwan Forestry Research Institute, died, age 43, in a car accident on his field trip to collect a rare Fagaceae species in Pingtung County, Taiwan.
Suggest you also add Terriss (Terry) Walker and Daryl Reimer, prominent Queensland seabird scientists who disappeared at sea in May 1992 in the Gulf of Carpentaria,Australia, whilst surveying remote seabird islands. [Obituary in Ogilvie, P., and K. Hulsman 1993. Obituaries of Terriss (Terry) Adrian Walker (1950‑1992). Corella 17:129‑130.]
Shannon, Frederick A. (1921–1965), American physician and herpetologist, died from the bite of a Mojave Rattlesnake that he was attempting to catch. A tree lizard is named in his honor (Urosaurus graciosus shannoni). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_A._Shannon
Mendoza Quijano, Fernando (1957–2008), age 51 years, Mexican herpetologist, killed along with his wife in a car accident in Durango, while traveling to meet an American colleague to obtain textbooks for his university students. An obituary was published in Herpetological Review 42(2):133–134.
I’d suggest both Robert MacArthur and Don Tinkle be added to the list. They don’t fit strictly into the requirement that one has to have died in the line of work. However, they deserve mention because both made quite significant contributions to ecology and evolution, yet died in their 40s (of cancer, I believe), likely before the extent of their genius could be shared with the rest of us.
It would be great if you could add Chris Wysiekierski to the list. He was a graduate student at the University of Windsor (Canada) who drowned in a snorkeling accident while conducting field research near Turneffe Atoll, Belize in August 2001. He was 30 years old.
For inclusion in the list you may consider Klaus Warncke (and Konrad Thaler).
Klaus Warncke 1937-1993 one of the most prolific investigators of bees in Europa. He named over 885 new species of Palearctic bees. Died in a car accident along with his wife, Christa, near Cario, while on a field expedition in Egypt, when his car was struck head-on by an oncoming truck.
Linzer biologische Beiträge 26(2): 649-663, 1994 (with picture)
Konrad Thaler 1940- 2005 Austrian arachnologist, who described 77 species of Alpine and Mediterranean species. Died of a sudden heart attack while on a student field trip in the Alps.
Arachnologische Mitteilungen 30:1-12 2005 (with picture)
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This list is a really interesting idea but not every name here seems to meet the same test. With due respect to Aldo Leopold’s family and fans, his career was focused on management, not discovery. He died at a fairly typical age while fighting a fire that threatened his own property, from a heart attack following a lifetime of smoking. None of that qualifies him as a martyr to science.
[…] Finally, Conniff’s book has an intriguing “Necrology” (pp. 379-383) of those who died while in the search for new species. He has continued this as an informational collection online at, “The Wall of the Dead: A Memorial to Fallen Naturalists.” […]
[…] by paramilitary drug cartel members. They were near a manatee study site, and appear to have been seeking new species and/or studying biodiversity in the area. Their bodies were found at the mouth of the Sinú River, […]
Carr, Cedric Er(r)oll
Born: 1892, Napier, New Zealand. Died: 1936, Port Moresby, New Guinea. (during botanical collecting expedition).
Went to England with his parents at the age of 7; he came to Malaya in Jan. 1913 as an Assistant on Kulong Rubber Estate, Malacca; in 1916 he returned to England for military service; in 1919 to Malaya again, as Manager of Lendu Estate, Malacca, and then of Tembeling Estate, Pahang, until 1931. In 1933 he went to England, working at the Kew Herbarium, leaving again at the end of 1934 for his Papuan expedition. On the road back he fell ill with blackwater fever. From his boyhood he was interested in orchids, on which subject he wrote several papers, principally based on his own collections. Extensive botanical collections in Malaysis and New Guinea. http://www.nationaalherbarium.nl/FMCollectors/C/CarrCE.htm
Filippo Bassignani, an Italian researcher and conservation biologist, was killed by an elephant in Mozambique, aged 39.
A foundation named in his honor awards research scholarships: http://www.fondazionebassignani.it/
Laccodytes bassignanii are named after him.
Czech student killed on research trip to Papua New Guinea
A Czech student who had been sent to Papua New Guinea for a research trip was killed on January 27th. He was working on his dissertation at the University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice and was an employee of the university’s entomological institute. His doctoral thesis focused on the ground beetle. He died after a fall into a ravine in Papua New Guinea’s Finisterre mountain range.
Walter Volz (1875 – 1907) Swiss botanist, zoologist & ethnologist, killed April 2 when the French attacked and destroyed the village of Bussamai in what is now Guinea where he had been stranded after being abandoned by his native carriers. (ref: Basu, Paul – object diasporas, resourcing communities: Sierra Leonean Collections in the Global Museumscape; Museum Anthropology, vol. 34, no. 1; 2011
Frederick Nutter Chasen (1896-1945), British ornithologist, Director, Raffles Museum, Singapore. Killed when the “HMS Giang Bee”, the ship upon which he was evacuating Singapore, was sunk by Japanese forces in the Bangka Strait.
Year of death should have been 1942. Obituary in the “Auk” incorrectly put the date of his death, and the sinking of the “Giang Bee”, on 9/1/1945, after the end of the war, while the “Giang Bee” was actually sunk on 13 April, 1942.
Looking for collections dates for Herbert H. Smith, I came across this:
“Collecting naturalia can even in modern times be dangerous, especially if you are deaf as Herbert H. Smith (1851-1919) was. Collecting snails along the railway in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, that tragic day in March 1919, he was hit by the train and killed.”
Yuri Igorevich Sazonov (1950-2002), Russian ichthyologist, died at age 51 of severe cold contracted when he continued to work at his laboratory at the Zoological Museum of the University of Moscow during roof repairs being performed during the winter.
I am guessing that the Michael Alberico that is listed here is the man I went to college with at Knox College. He graduated in 1970 and I believe his date of birth would have been 1947, not 1937. The last I heard directly from him was October 18, 2000, and he was living in Washington, DC. He was married to a native of Cali, Columbia, and certainly might have returned there to live or visit.
Add: Ambika Tripathy, conservation biologist from Orissa. He was killed while studying sea turtles when the tsunami of December 2004 struck Galathea Camp on Great Nicobar Island. See: Chandi, M. 2012. A story of field assistants and sea turtle research in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Indian Ocean Turtle Newsletter 16:19-21.
Benoit Mys should be on this list. A Belgian PhD Student from the University of Antwerp, he conducted research in Northern Papua New Guinea in the mid 1980’s for his PhD related to the zoogeography of the skink fauna of the region. He died in a vehicle accident on the north coast highway of PNG in 1990 while conducting fieldwork there.
Mys, Benoit. 1988. The zoogeography of the scincid lizards from North Papua New Guinea (Reptilia: Scincidae). I. The distribution of the species. Bull. Inst. Roy. Sci. Nat. Belgique (Biologie) 58:127-183.
Greer, A. E., & Mys, B. 1987. Resurrection of Lipinia rouxi (Hediger, 1934) (Reptilia: Lacertilia: Scincidae), another skink to have lost the left oviduct. Amphibia-Reptilia 8:417-418.
I imagine he might have published more had he lived longer.
I have a copy of his paper from 1988 which contains at least five or six unpublished citations relating to his PhD on PNG skinks that he never got around to submitting. I’m not sure what became of them following his death.
While sorting references, I just happened upon an obituary for James G. T. Chillcott, 1929-1967, who died of a fatal heart attack near Kathmandu, Nepal. He was an expert on flies. His obituary, written by Howell Daly can be found in The Pan-Pacific Entomologist. 1967. 43(2):171. I didn’t know him personally…it was a little before my time.
Luis R. Monteiro, (d. 11 December 1999), a leading seabird expert from the University of the Azores for whom Monteiro’s storm-petrel is named (Oceanodroma monteiroi) died in a SATA airline crash in the Azores http://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oceanodroma_monteiroi (he is also memorialized in the acknowledgements of many papers from the Azores in 2000-2002).
May I suggest to ad Wolf V. Vishniac? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolf_V._Vishniac
Vishniac (1922-1973) was a microbiologist & Professor of Biology at Rochester, who devised the “Wolf Trap”, a mini laboratory setup to search for life on Mars on one of the Viking landers, which eventually was not included due to budget cuts to the project. He died on Antarctica on 10 December 1973 when he apparently fell on the ice while (while alone) attempting to retrieve an experiment. A Crater on Mars was named after him.
That’s what I would have said, because I find the whole search for life on other planets a huge distraction. On the other, look at what he was doing. A microbiologist in search of new species in hostile territory. I’m going to add him.
I am adding a website for myself here, because every time my mouse goes over that icon to the right, I get sent to a Yahoo search page I can’t get out of. Let’s see if this works. Richard, feel free to delete this comment right away, because it’s just a test on my part to see if I can avoid Yahoo.
Richard, the experiment didn’t work. It’s as though it’s looking for a website, but since it’s not connecting, WordPress defaults it to the Yahoo search page that behaves like malware. When I go to the icon by your posts, it gives a thumbnail of your profile. When I do it to others’ icons it does that too or it does nothing. Anyway, dump these messages — they don’t belong on this board.
Richard, thanks for adding Valerie Chabot. She was a volunteer, not a federal employee. Here is what I gleaned from the Anchorage paper. (Little bit of gibberish I couldn’t figure out in the image to text translator.)
“FAIRBANKS (AP) — A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service volunteer from Eagle River fell to her death while studying falcons on a cliff at the Tanana River near Nenana. Valerie Chabot, 31, was pronounced dead at a Fairbanks hospital after apparently losing her footing and falling 75 feet Tuesday afternoon, Fish and Wildlife officials said. Rescue workers had unsuccessfully tried to revive her. Falcons nest high on steep cliffs, usually near rivers. Reaching them typically involves rock climbing and rappelling. “It’s not your backyard biology ” Fish and Wildlife spokesman Bruce Batten said. “It’s classic Alaska: challenging field-study conditions.” Chabot was about 8 miles upstream j^^f?,^ on a JÂ° int P r Â°J” ect of Fish and Wildlife and the state Department of Fish and Game. Batten said Chabot could have been studying any of three peregrine falcon species in Alaska: the American Peales or Arctic. Volunteers also have been studying the birds on the Nenana and Yukon rivers. Chabot’s death is the first for the falcon program, but not the first for biologists in Alaska. In recent years two biologists and their pilot died when their plane crashed as they sought polar bears north of Ban-ow, and two other biologists died in a boating accident near Adak in the Aleutian Islands, Batten said. “To me it indicates not just the challenging conditions but the tremendous commitment of the people that we have working for us, not only full-time staffers but volunteers during the summertime,” Batten said.”
I could have missed it here, if so, sorry. Mt Mitchell’s namesake ..
The mountain was named in honor of Dr. Elisha Mitchell, an educator and scientist from Chapel Hill, who died while climbing the mountain in 1857 in his effort to prove it was the highest peak in eastern North America. The grave of Dr Mitchell lies next to the observation deck.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elisha_Mitchell … Elisha Mitchell (August 19, 1793 – June 27, 1857) was an American educator, geologist and Presbyterian minister. His geological studies led to the identification of North Carolina’s Mount Mitchell as the highest peak east of the Mississippi River.
I’m inclined to be in his favor, Sharyl, because he was a student of Benjamin Silliman at Yale, and I was an undergraduate there in Silliman College. But I feel his work was about geography, not wildlife or conservation. Thank you for the suggestion.
How about adding in
Perry Oveitt Simons (1869‒1901) was an American citizen who collected in South America, taking reptiles and amphibians in Peru (c.1900) and birds in Bolivia (1901). When crossing the Andes his lone guide murdered him. Chubb (q.v.) studied Simons’ collections extensively in the second decade of the 20th century. There are more than a dozen holotypes in the BMNH which he collected. Seven birds, four reptiles, two amphibians and a mammal are named after him.
Johan August Wahlberg (1810‒1856) was a Swedish naturalist and collector. He studied chemistry and phar¬macy at Uppsala (1829) and worked in a chemist’s shop in Stockholm while studying at the Forestry Institute. He travelled and collected widely in southern Africa (1838‒1856), sending thousands of specimens home to Sweden. He returned briefly to Sweden (1853) but was soon back in Africa where he was in Walvis Bay (1854). He was exploring the head¬waters of the Limpopo when a wounded elephant killed him. An amphibian, mammal, four birds and four reptiles are named after him.
Above paragraphs will appear in Eponym Dictionary of Birds which will be published in June 2014 by Bloomsbury Group. I am one of the co-authors of it. Similar entries can also be found in three othere Eponym Dictonaries of which I am also co-author, covering Mammals, Amphibians and Reptiles
Glad you like them! There are quite a few more I can think of who could be on this list.
Frank Linsly James (1851‒1890) was an explorer of the Sudan, Somalia, India and Mexico. He published Experiences and Adventures during Three Winters Spent in the Sudan (1883) and The Unknown Horn of Africa ‒ an Exploration from Berbera to the Leopard River, which was edited by his widow (1890). A wounded elephant killed him.
J. Austin Roberts (1883‒1948) was a South African zoologist. During the first half of the 20th century he was the most prominent ornithologist in southern Africa. He worked at the Transvaal Museum for nearly four decades studying birds (1910‒1946). He amassed 30,000 bird skins and 9,000 mammal specimens there. Although he did not have formal academic training, he received several high academic awards and an honorary doctorate. Roberts is best remembered for his Birds of South Africa (1940), a landmark publication in African ornithology which has developed in size and authority with repeated posthumous editions. He died in a traffic accident. The Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary was established in his hometown, Pretoria (1958).
Here are a married couple who both qualify:
John Isaiah Northrop (1861‒1891) taught botany and zoology at Columbia University. He was the husband (1889) of Alice Rich Northrop (1864‒1922). They spent six months in the Bahamas collecting animal, plant and mineral specimens (1890), then the most extensive natural history survey undertaken there. When she finished her analysis of the botanical material, ten years later, Alice found she had discovered 18 new species. A Naturalist in the Bahamas (1910) was a collection of John’s and Alice’s papers, edited by Henry Fairfield Osborn, and published posthumously under the names of Northrop and Osborn as co-authors, John was killed in a laboratory explosion (1891) a week before the birth of their only child, a son, John Howard Northrop (1891‒1987) who won a Nobel Prize for Chemistry (1946) She travelled widely in the Americas and became a Professor at Hunter College. She was killed when her car stalled on a level crossing and was hit by a train
I seem to have inadvertently deleted part of an entry, between Mys and Nakano. If anyone has printed out the list and can help me fill in the blanks, I would be most grateful. Here is the fragment I have left:
of PNG in 1990 while conducting fieldwork there.. A Belgian PhD Student from the University of Antwerp, he conducted research in Northern Papua New Guinea in the mid 1980′s f
A name I see missing is Peter Rawlinson, a very significant herpetologist and conservationist in Australia. He died tragically, I think from heat exhaustion, while in the field in Indonesia. He was a very significant figure in fighting for the conservation of native forest in southern Australia. See for example : http://www.acfonline.org.au/about-us/peter-rawlinson-conservation-award
Noel Kempff Mercado deserves mention. I named a subspecies of leafotsser (a bird, Sclerurus albigularis kempffi) doscovered at PNNKM in his honor.
Noel Kempff Mercado (February 27, 1924 in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia – September 5, 1986 in the Serranía de Caparuch, Bolivia) was a Bolivian biologist and environmentalist.
Kempff Mercado studied at the University of Santa Cruz where also received his BS in 1946. During a field campaign in the Huanchaca Nationalpark in 1986 he and several other scientists discovered a cocaine factory in the Bolivian forest. Kempff Mercado and most of the scientists were killed by the criminals. The Huanchaca National Park was renamed in 1988 as Noel Kempff Mercado National Park.
Is Tony Seymour on the list? I have contacted a friend of his to see if he can contact his wife. I would rather she gave permission for him to be included. Tony was an Ichthyologist (I believe) working on Lake Malawi, but living on Anglesey (North Wales). He sadly died of DVT on a return flight from Malawi about 8 years ago.
[…] of race Mother Nature Network: 7 scientists killed by their own experiments Strange Behaviors: The Wall of the Dead: A Memorial to Fallen Naturalists Active History: Digital Approaches to 19th Century Globalisation Youtube: Video: John Wilkins: […]
Mercado, Noel Kempff (1924-1986), Bolivian biologist, was scouting out a new national park in Santa Cruz department when his group landed at what they thought was an abandoned airstrip. It turned out to be a cocaine factory. He was murdered, age 62, and the national park was subsequently named for him.
Everything is correct; he was exploring the Serranía de Huanchaca in Bolivia (he landed in the mountains before my team, fortunately enough). His fist family name was Kempff; the entry should read Kempff Mercado, Noel.
Thanks to you, Richard. As a field botanist with long experience in rough situations, I have read your post with mixed feelings: my name could have been among the posted ones! Congratulations for your work.
A conservationist who worked to protect voluntarily isolated tribes in the Amazon rainforest and an indigenous leader were among ten killed in a plane crash in southern Colombia Saturday afternoon.
Roberto Franco, a political scientist who worked with the Amazon Conservation Team-Colombia, died when the Piper PA-31 Navajo crashed after takeoff from Araracuara in the department of Caquetá. Daniel Matapi, an indigenous leader, also perished.
The plane was bound for Florencia, the capital of Caquetá, when it went down in Puerto Santander, Amazonas, according to the Colombian government. There were no immediate indications of what caused the crash.
Franco had recently worked to document isolated tribes within Rio Puré National Park. The research was significant because isolated and uncontacted indigenous people in the Colombian are afforded the right to isolation, the right to their traditional territories, and reparations in case of violence under a 2011 legal decree. That measure specifically protects such groups — which may be voluntarily isolated — from unwanted contact, effectively making their lands off-limits to mining, energy development, logging, and industrial agriculture.
Daniel teaching his fellow Yukuna-Matapis how to map on a computer. Miriti Parana river, Colombian Amazon. Photo courtesy of the Amazon Conservation Team.
Mark Plotkin, the Founder and President of the Amazon Conservation Team, said both men “were much beloved” and will be “sorely missed”.
“Daniel Matapi was our indigenous coordinator. He was born and raised in the Colombian Amazon, spoke four languages, and was equally adept at training western scientists, negotiating with tribal leaders, launching ACT field programs, and hacking trails through the jungle,” Plotkin wrote via email.
“Dr. Roberto Franco was the leading authority on isolated tribes of the Colombian Amazon. He was a widely revered figure in Colombian academic circles, had published several important books on Colombian tribes (‘Karijonas de Chiribiquete’ and ‘Cariba Malo’) and was a fearless and effective crusader for the protection of isolated tribes.”
Franco was interviewed by Mongabay.com about his work in 2012.
“The Jasper Loftus-Hills Young Investigator Award: Jasper Loftus-Hills
(1946-1974) was an Australian biologist of exceptional promise when
he was killed by a hit-and-run driver while recording frog calls
along a Texas highway, three years after receiving his degree. The
award was established in 1984 to recognize promising outstanding work
by investigators who received their doctorates in the three years
preceding the application deadline, or who are in their final year of
graduate school. It involves presentation of a research paper in the
Young Investigator’s Symposium at the ASN annual meeting and includes
a $500 prize, a travel allowance of $700, cost of registration for the
meetings, and a supplement of $800 for travel and other expenses for
this year’s case of intercontinental travel. Four awards are made
annually. Recipients need not be members of the Society. The prize
committee encourages direct applications and welcomes suggestions of
people who should be encouraged to apply. Applications should consist of
no more than three pages that summarize the applicant’s work (excluding
tables, figures, and references), no more than four appropriate reprints,
and a CV combined as a single pdf. Two letters from individuals familiar
with the applicant’s work should be sent separately. All application
materials should be sent via e-mail by January 1, 2015, to Jonathan
Shurin (email@example.com). Please indicate “Young Investigators’ Award”
in the subject line, and for reference letters, the name of the applicant.”
Ustinov Nikolay (194?-1988), 44 age, russian microbiologist, after an accedent in center of virusology “Vector”, Novosibirsk, Russia, where he researched Marburg virus. He realized he was deathly ill and noted step by step his Marburg desease in diary for the future researches. Last pages of his diary are covered with his blood. Virus strain from his blood was named “Variant-U” in his honor.
Presnyakova Antonina (195?-2004), 46 age, senior laboratory assistant in center of virusology “Vector”, Novosibirsk, Russia, after an accedent in laboratory working with Ebola virus. Dispite of rapidly hospitalization, she died soon of Ebola fever.
Thank you, Ekaterina. These seem to me to belong to a different and equally heroic list, medical workers who have given their lives in the fight against disease. If no such list exists, it’s probably only because it would have to be horrifically long.
Richard, it breaks my heart to add another name to your list: our colleague and friend Ronnie Sidner, mammalogist, conservationist, and tireless advocate for bats. Ronnie died last August in an automobile accident on her way home after leading a bat field trip for the Southwest Wings Birding Festival. http://www.tucsonaudubon.org/what-we-do/education/414-ronnie.html
Hi Richard — here is another loss of a naturalist. William A. Bussing, famous ichthyologist in Costa Rica, passed away on 17 November 2014 following an automobile accident in Costa Rica. Thanks for doing this.
Marcelo A. Bagno (1968-2002) – a.k.a. BG. Brazilian Ornithologist drowned trying to cross a river during fieldwork in the state of Goias. University of Brasilia Ornithology collection was named after him.
Has anyone mentioned bear researcher Dave Maehr, who died in a plane crash while doing field surveys in Florida about ten years ago? Be sure to include him! He had wonderful insight into natural history.
Dr Walter Mosauer (1905–1937) was an Austrian physician who qualified at the University of Vienna (1929). While still a student at Vienna he made a reptile-collecting trip to Tunisia for the Museum, University of Vienna. He went to the USA (1929) undertaking a doctorate at the University of Michigan (1931). He joined the faculty of the University of California, Los Angeles as Instructor in Zoology (1932) and (1932–1937) made a number of collecting trips to Mexico, Arizona and Colorado. A keen skier, he introduced the sport to students in Los Angeles, organizing and training student ski teams. He wrote The amphibians and reptiles of the Guadalupe Mountains of New Mexico and Texas (1932). He died of blood poisoning whilst on a field trip collecting reptiles in Mexico.
Please add Michelle Christine Knapp (1982-2006), a brilliant and promising young mammalogist in the lab of Robert J. Baker of Texas Tech University, who was killed in a single car accident. Rene Fonseca (in the list above, also a doctoral student from TTU), was struck and killed by a motorist as he shoved his brother out of harm’s way (their car was on the roadside while they were working on it).
Tyla, did Michelle and Robert die WHILE doing field research? I think that is the point of this wall. It is like the Vietnam Wall — those who died in the service of the country. Here it’s those who died while doing work as a naturalist. It’s not all naturalists who have died.
So, if you could provide some details, it would help Richard.
Hi, Joe. Robert J. Baker is not deceased. Michelle was killed while returning from Caprock Canyons State Park & Trailway. She was not there collecting bats; she was there doing what we often do – communing with and admiring nature’s splendor, taking pictures, etc. So, you are correct – she was not doing field work sensu stricto. Thank you for pointing this out to me :-)
Tyla, I think that could still count. That would be up to Richard. But it sounds like Michelle was doing what naturalist tend to do when they have a free moment of time. I said “work” in my previous post, but I actually meant was “doing what naturalist do” or something along that line. For most of us naturalists, we do not consider what we do as work even though we get paid for it.
I agree with you, Joe. And even when we are not “on the clock” as it were, we are pretty much always working our passions of scientific observation, inquiry, arguing (ha), etc. about the natural world – and as you aptly stated – not really work to us, at all. Side note: I remembered afterwards that Michelle may have been returning from Palo Duro Canyon and not CRC. But Richard can verify easily enough. Happy 2015!
Raulino Reitz, brazilian botanic, was author of Illustrated Flora of Santa Catarina, with Roberto Klein. Received many awards honoring his scientific work, consisting of 45 books and 114 scientific articles focusing Botany, Zoology and Genealogy. With his mate Roberto Miguel Klein, Raulino Reitz received the Global 500 Award of the United Nations (UN), in Mexico City in 1990. Died during a ceremony in his honor in the city of Itajaí, SC, Brazil
Hans Schnurrenberger (???? – 1964), Swiss herpetologist, died of the bite of an Asian coral snake in Pokhara, Nepal, while collecting reptiles and amphibians as a sideline to his work in a refugee camp for the Swiss Red Cross. See http://biostor.org/reference/126692.text
You should look into Douglas Ralph Emlong. He was a fantastic collector of extremely important fossils. As I recall–but this should be checked–he died from a fall from a sea cliff he was collecting on. Perhaps the best source of information on his death would be found in Ray, Clayton E. [a former curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Smithsonian]. 1980. Douglas Ralph Emlong 1942-1980 (Obituary). Society of Vertebrate Paleontology News Bulletin, 120: 45-46.
Brandon Brei (1977 – 2003) was a graduate student at Yale studying infectious disease. He drowned trying to rescue a fellow student from a rip current off Puerto Rico on 22 March 2003 (http://www.yale.edu/opa/arc-ybc/v31.n24/story11.html) while attending a CDC workshop on dengue fever. Brandon was a great kid and deserves to make this list; had he not been killed he would have done great work on the natural history of infectious disease.
Marina Vargas Giggleman, Ph.D (1960 – 2007). Marina, a strong, brilliant woman, a beloved wife and mother, a marine biologist, and environmental scientist was born July 17, 1960 in Caracas, Venezuela and died April 3, 2007 in an ATV accident. She died in the line of duty while searching for Kemp’s ridley sea turtles at Padre Island National Seashore to protect them. Her passion for the preservation of endangered marine life and all other animals was second only to her passion for family and friends.
Does Guy Bradley not qualify? He was one of the U.S.’s first game wardens and the first Audubon Warden to die in the line of duty while protecting nesting wading birds from plume hunters. He was shot and killed July 8, 1905, in the Everglades of Florida.
Interesting suggestion. I think Guy Bradley belongs on an entirely different, and probably longer, list of game wardens who continue to die to protect wildlife. That’s a harder list to construct because the game rangers being shot down in developing countries often go nameless in news reports. But I think a group called “The Thin Green Line” (?) has attempted something along those lines. I have to say I’ve probably been inconsistent on this point, and included a few game rangers along the way.
By the way, game wardens are killed in the line of duty at the greatest rate of ANY form of law enforcement. There just are not nearly as many of them as there are city cops. Nebraska, for example, has 41 game wardens covering the whole state. Wyoming is about the same. A town of 30,000 people in Nebraska has a city police department of 50 or so.
Wardens are almost always confronting people alone (no partners), where the people are armed, and they are often intoxicated to some extent.
But game wardens (game rangers) are law enforcement officers and not typically naturalists.
Sánchez Velázquez, Tomás (1954-2007) was a rare plant and fern specialist in the Canary Islands (and produced excellent line drawings of his study subjects). A sudden and fatal illness took his life at age 53.
In the Eponym Dictionary of Birds (Beolens, Watkins, Grayson, 2014), p. 159: Eugene D’Osery (1818-1846), a French traveller and collector, was killed by Indians while a member of Castelnau’s collecting expedition (1843-1847) to the source of the Amazon. D’Osery has two birds, plants, fish, and other taxa named after him.
Gosh, what a great way to commemorate our fallen colleagues and friends. I was surprised to realize that I knew four of those on your list personally. Very sad, that they are no longer with us, but I’m sure they are watching with dismay from the other side at the ongoing destruction of our planet and its magnificent creatures. It only inspires those of us still here to do more. There was a PhD student I worked for briefly in Minnesota who died in a plane crash while tracking moose (1998?). When I can recall his name, I will post it. Thanks for the website.
David Nelson is not yet on this list. At the recommendation of Sir Joseph Banks, he was appointed botanist on Capt. James Cook’s third voyage of exploration in the Pacific (1776-1780), where he made important collections. After that, he worked at Kew Gardens until 1787, when he was appointed botanist on Capt. William Bligh’s fateful expedition to collect breadfruit in Tahiti. Among the loyal crew members whom the mutineers set adrift with Bligh, he survived three months crossing the Pacific in an open boat with little food or water. They arrived at Kupang (Koepang), Timor in present-day Indonesia on 12 July 1789. Shortly after arrival, Nelson went botanizing in nearby mountains despite his weak condition. He caught a cold and died on 20 July 1789.
Little in known of his early life or education, not even the date of his birth. No portraits of him drawn from life are known to exist.
Nelson, David (17? – 1789), British plant collector, botanist on Cook’s third voyage and Bligh’s “HMS Bounty” expedition, died age ? from fever after botanizing near Kupang (Koepang), Indonesia.
Richard, there was a publication put out by The Wildlife Society where the names of wildlife biologists who died in the line of duty are listed. It is Sass, D. B. 2003. “Job-related mortality of wildlife workers in the United States, 1937-2000.” Wildlife Society Bulletin 31(4):1015-1020.
[…] sadly, is that being an ecologist/naturalist is not without its peril. Richard Conniff’s Wall of the Dead is a great testament to this. Secondly, the main dangers or warnings of a given field site will […]