Alfred Russel Wallace(1823-1913)“A prisoner of scientific parentheses, as in, "the theory of evolution by natural selection proposed by Charles Darwin (and also by Alfred Russel Wallace).”’
Childhood • Born in Usk, a small town in Wales. • Eighth of nine children of Thomas and Mary Anne Wallace. • Father- earned a law degree; never practiced as an attorney. • Family fell on hard times early in Wallace’s life. • 1836: Wallace forced to withdraw from grammar school at age 13; sent to London to live with older brother, John.
Surveying (1837-1843) • After a few months in London, Wallace left to become an apprentice under his oldest brother, William. • Trained to become a surveyor. • Learned trades such as map-making, geometry, and trigonometry. • Learned to be a very keen observer of his surroundings. • Became fond of the outdoors, particularly in botany and geology. • Let go by his brother after a period of financial difficulties.
Collegiate School at Leicester (1843-1845) • Applied for a teaching position and was hired. • Taught drafting, surveying, English, and arithmetic. • Reads Malthus’ “An Essay on the Principle of Population” • Met Henry Walter Bates, a young naturalist. • Bates introduced the practice of collecting specimens to Wallace. • After reading about the travels of other accomplished naturalists such as Charles Darwin, Wallace and Bates decided to travel to the Amazon.
Exploration of the Amazon (1848-1852) • Wallace primary goal in the Amazon was to collect specimens. • Interested in studying “biological evolution”, an idea introduced by Robert Chambers in “The Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation” • Aside from collecting, Wallace took notes on the regions geography, wildlife, and even the inhabitants and their languages. • On his way back to England, Wallace’s boat caught fire and sank; taking with it the majority of Wallace’s work in the Amazon. • Wallace and his crew rescued by a passing cargo ship. Journey across the Atlantic took nearly three months.
Back in England • Despite losing most of his specimens and notes from his travels, Wallace was able to publish two books upon his return to England. • “Palm Trees of the Amazon and Their Uses” • A study on the plant life in the Amazon. • “A Narrative of Travels on the Amazon and Rio Negro” • An account of Wallace’s four years in South America • Correspondence with Charles Darwin.
Travel in the East Indies (1854-1862) • Malay Archipelago: modern day Malaysia and Indonesia • Traveled almost 14,000 miles on a number of expeditions in the region; visited every island in the archipelago at least once. • Collected over 125,000 specimens, including around a thousand that had never been discovered before. • “Rhacophorus nigropalmatus”- Wallace’s flying-frog • “The Malay Archipelago” (1869): dedicated to Darwin.
Wallace’s Flying Frog www.itsnature.org/.../wallaces-frog/
Discoveries • Founder of biogeography • Recognized the six great biogeographical regions on Earth. • “Wallace Line”: imaginary line separating Asia and Australia
Natural Selection • Makes a connection between Malthus’ ideas on population growth and evolution. • “Survival of the fittest”: most fit organisms survive and pass their genes onto future generations. • “On the Tendencies of Varieties to Depart Indefinitely from the Original Type” (1858): sent to Darwin • Lyell and Hooker present Wallace’s essay along with some of Darwin’s writings at the Linnaen Society on July 1, 1858.
Darwin vs. Wallace • Darwin- “Natural Selection” • Wallace- “Survival of the Fittest”, “Adaptation” • Darwin considered sexual selection as a separate phenomenon; Wallace believed it was a form of natural selection. • Darwin believed in the inheritance of acquired traits • Wallace rejected Lamarck’s idea • Darwin stressed that competition was the cause of natural selection. • Wallace emphasized that environmental pressures forced species to adapt to their surroundings.
Spiritualism • Wallace became a spiritualist in the late 1860’s. • Human’s “higher attributes” could not have resulted from natural selection. • Ideas were strongly rejected by Darwin, but were endorsed by Darwin’s good friend Charles Lyell. • Wallace’s scientific reputation was destroyed by his association with Spiritualism.
Social Activism • Exposed to the ideas of social reformers such as Robert Owen and Thomas Paine while living in London early in his life. • Social comments in “The Malay Archipelago” drew the attention of notable economists/socialists such as John Stuart Mill. • Supported labor movements: argued for overtime pay • Supporter of women’s suffrage and a paper money system • Argued against militarism and imperialism • Anti-vaccination campaign • Endorsed Socialism
Publications • Over 750 publications; 22 full-length books • “The Malay Archipelago” (1869) • “Darwinism” (1889) - Defense of natural selection - Gave priority on the subject to Darwin - “Wallace effect”: natural selection against hybrids creating two reproductively isolated populations; speciation • “Remarks on the Rev. S. Haughton’s Paper on the Bee’s Cell, and on the Origin of Species”: defense of Origin of Species
More Publications • “The Geographical Distribution of Animals” (1876) • “Island Life” (1880) • “Tropical Nature, and Other Essays” (1878) • “My Life” (1905) • “On the Law Which Has Regulated the Introduction of New Species” (1855) • “On the Physical Geography of the Malay Archipelago” (1863) • “The Origin of Human Races and the Antiquity of Men Deduced from the Theory of “Natural Selection”” (1864)
Legacy • Greatest explorer-naturalist of the 19th century. • Co-founder of natural selection • Founder of biogeography • Darwin-Wallace Medal: handed out by Linnean Society every 50 years, beginning in 1908. Recently announced that it would be awarded annually. • Overshadowed by Darwin because of Darwin’s social status; Wallace’s modesty and unpopular social and religious views also played a role.
References • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Russel_Wallace • http://www.wku.edu/~smithch/index1.htm • http://en.citizendium.org/wiki/Alfred_Russel_Wallace • http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/0_0_0/history_16 • http://www.ecologyasia.com/verts/amphibians/wallace%27s_flying_frog.htm • http://www.ucl.ac.uk/taxome/jim/Mim/leicester/collegiate_sch4.html