Ecology G. Evelyn Hutchinson
by
David K. Skelly
  • LAST REVIEWED: 06 May 2016
  • LAST MODIFIED: 25 June 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199830060-0096

Introduction

George Evelyn Hutchinson (b. 13 January 1903–d. 17 May 1991) was one of the foremost figures in ecology during the 20th century. Raised in Cambridge, England, he attended university there as well. After a stint in South Africa, he moved to Yale University where he was on the faculty for more than four decades. Throughout his life he had a fascination with the natural world. His drive to observe and understand natural patterns was the foundation of his science. He used his encyclopedic knowledge to connect observations to one another allowing him to form hypotheses that have developed into enduring principles within the field of ecology. Hutchinson wrote on a staggeringly diverse array of topics including everything from the paranormal to illuminated medieval manuscripts. But his primary research revolved around two themes. Early in his career, working within lakes, he was one of the first scientists to connect physical and chemical conditions to biological processes and patterns. His efforts helped to forge limnology (the study of lakes) into a mechanistic discipline in which these systems could be understood through the study of principles that transcended the particularities of individual lakes. His approach also fostered a new discipline, ecosystem ecology, focused on the movement of materials and energy through biological systems. Later in his career he turned his attention to populations and communities of species. During an especially productive period running from the late 1940s through the early 1960s he wrote several papers that have become classics and remain critical to the pursuit of ecological understanding. Many were aimed at understanding species coexistence. He strongly advocated quantitative approaches to studying ecological problems. He is particularly known for revamping an existing concept, the ecological niche, into a more robust and explicit idea in which a species distribution is mapped onto axes of environmental variation. This powerful approach continues to enjoy widespread use today.

General Overviews

Hutchinson’s place within the history of ecology is well described in Kingsland 1995, a history of the development of population ecology during the 20th century. Hutchinson’s approach as a scientist and mentor is considered in Slobodkin and Slack 1999, an essay written by one of his former students, Larry Slobodkin, and Nancy Slack, who went on to write his biography. Skelly, et al. 2010 offers an anthology of Hutchinson’s writings along with interpretive essays covering several themes characterizing his work.

  • Kingsland, Sharon E. 1995. Modeling nature: Episodes in the history of population ecology. 2d ed. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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    An overview of ecological theory by a noted historian of science. While not specifically about Hutchinson, he is a major figure in the book as are several of his students. Hutchinson’s role as an innovator and his influence on the development of ecology as a modern science are important themes.

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  • Skelly, David K., Post, David M., and Smith, Melinda D., eds. 2010. The art of ecology: Writings of G. Evelyn Hutchinson. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.

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    A selection of more than two dozen examples of Hutchinson’s writings. Reprinted writings are presented in sections headed with essays by scientists reflecting on the ongoing importance of Hutchinson’s contributions in a variety of intellectual spheres. Includes a list of publications authored by Hutchinson.

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  • Slobodkin, Larry B., and Nancy G. Slack. 1999. George Evelyn Hutchinson: 20th century ecologist. Endeavour 23.1: 24–29.

    DOI: 10.1016/S0160-9327(99)01182-5Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An examination of Hutchinson’s role as a mentor and creator of a scientific school. His approach is juxtaposed against one of his contemporaries at Yale, Ross Harrison. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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Biographies

Hutchinson published an autobiography covering his youth, education, and early professional career (Hutchinson 1979). The first complete biography of Hutchinson was published recently (Slack 2010). Two former students also have written shorter accounts. Slobodkin 1993 is a remembrance of Hutchinson. Lovejoy 2011a is a biography of Hutchinson for the Royal Society. An addendum to Lovejoy’s biography includes a comprehensive list of Hutchinson’s publications (Lovejoy 2011b).

Primary Works

Hutchinson published in a wide range of intellectual domains over the course of his career. To reflect his diverse interests, his primary works are organized into a series of subsections. Two of the subsections focus on the major themes characterizing his research on the study of lakes limnology as well as on ecological theory. Additional subsections cover his several books as well as essays and other publications designed to reach broader audiences published primarily during the latter part of his career.

Limnology

Hutchinson began studying lakes while he was a lecturer in South Africa and continued when he was given an opportunity to visit high-altitude lakes during a 1932 Yale expedition to North India (Hutchinson 1933). He was immediately taken by the way in which the otherwise diffuse relations between environmental conditions and biological processes were distilled into a manageable area (Hutchinson 1942; Hutchinson 1964). Lakes were numerous, and they varied physically, chemically, and biologically. Close consideration revealed to Hutchinson that relations among variables were predictable. As one example, the tendency for lakes to become chemically stratified could be related to their basin shape (Hutchinson 1938). Hutchinson became particularly interested in the ways that energy and nutrients moved into and through lakes (Hutchinson 1941). In pursuit of these interests Hutchinson helped to pioneer the use of radio tracers in the study of lake systems (Hutchinson and Bowen 1947). Hutchinson’s masterful and encyclopedic A Treatise on Limnology, published in four volumes between 1957 and 1993, remains a frequently cited resource for practicing limnologists (see A Treatise on Limnology).

A Treatise on Limnology

Together these four volumes (Hutchinson 1957; Hutchinson 1967; Hutchinson 1975; Hutchinson 1993) constitute Hutchinson’s magnum opus. Initiated with the help of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the effort was ultimately much greater than Hutchinson anticipated. The fourth volume was published posthumously. For decades these masterful volumes were the standard reference for limnologists. They remain frequently cited.

Ecological Theory

Beginning in the 1940s, Hutchinson began to publish on the role of theory in ecology (Hutchinson 1941), a focus he would maintain for the rest of his career. He played a key role in infusing ecology with quantitative approaches, whether focused on species interactions (Hutchinson 1953) or biogeochemical cycles (Hutchinson 1948). Two papers from the late 1950s have had the largest influence. In “Concluding Remarks” (Hutchinson 1957), he lays out a new vision for the ecological niche. As Hutchinson conceived it, the niche was a multidimensional space arrayed on axes that described environmental variables critical to the species’ fate. In “Homage to Santa Rosalia” (Hutchinson 1959) Hutchinson considered how so many species could manage to coexist and suggested that size differences might ameliorate their influences on each other. He went on to propose the concept of ratios of body size, which might promote coexistence. As important as these papers are, they can obscure a broader contribution of Hutchinson’s: his focus on environmental change as a driver of ecological dynamics. In a string of papers over a two decade period (Hutchinson 1941; Hutchinson 1953; Hutchinson 1961) Hutchinson became progressively convinced that change, particularly seasonal change, prevented ecological systems from achieving an equilibrium state and that this change might itself promote coexistence of species. In an era when the balance of nature was taken as a given and equilibrium assumed, this hypothesis was a fairly radical notion that has gained strong support in the decades since. His concept of a fugitive species (Hutchinson 1951) was another take on nonequilibrium mechanisms of coexistence in which an inferior competitor might remain within a system by being a particularly good disperser. While Hutchinson’s contributions to theory decreased later in his career, he continued to glean insightful observations that spurred further conceptual development in ecology (Hutchinson 1964).

  • Hutchinson, G. Evelyn. 1941. Ecological aspects of succession in natural populations. American Naturalist 75.760: 406–418.

    DOI: 10.1086/280983Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    One of the first attempts by Hutchinson to apply mathematical tools to the understanding of ecological patterns. He would go on to write several papers on the theme of species dynamics within changing systems. Available online for purchase or by subscription; online-only access with registration.

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  • Hutchinson, G. Evelyn. 1948. Circular causal systems in ecology. In Special issue: Teleological mechanisms. Edited by Lawrence K. Frank. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 50 (October): 221–246.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.1948.tb39854.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A very early description of biogeochemical cycles. The concepts and approach laid out by Hutchinson would very soon become fundamental to the development of a new field, ecosystem ecology. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Hutchinson, G. Evelyn. 1951. Copepodology for the ornithologist. Ecology 32.3: 571–577.

    DOI: 10.2307/1931745Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Hutchinson’s title hints at his belief that principles gleaned from specific observations can transcend system. In this case, Hutchinson defines a new concept, the fugitive species, which persists by being an effective disperser despite inferior abilities to compete with local neighbors. The concept has been critical to the development of modern theories of spatial ecology. Available online for purchase or by subscription; online-only access with registration.

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  • Hutchinson, G. Evelyn. 1953. The concept of pattern in ecology. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 105:1–12.

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    A wide-ranging consideration of pattern and process in community ecology. Long before null models became popular, Hutchinson thinks through the means by which ecologists can elucidate mechanism and distinguish patterns arising from stochastic means. Hutchinson also distinguishes between equilibrium and nonequilibrium communities.

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  • Hutchinson, G. Evelyn. 1957. Concluding remarks. In Special issue: Population studies: Animal ecology and demography. Edited by Milislav Demerec. Cold Spring Harbor Symposia on Quantitative Biology 22:415–427.

    DOI: 10.1101/SQB.1957.022.01.039Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A landmark paper redefining the ecological niche as a mathematically defined “space” existing along axes of environmental variation within which a species can persist. The paper more closely connected ecology to mathematics and stimulated quantitative evaluation of predictions from a new niche theory. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Hutchinson, G. Evelyn. 1959. Homage to Santa Rosalia, or, why are there so many kinds of animals? American Naturalist 93.870: 145–159.

    DOI: 10.1086/282070Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    One of Hutchinson’s best known publications. Still cited frequently. A development of Hutchinson’s ecological niche ideas in which he posits that body size differences, as seen in water bugs at a shrine to Santa Rosalia, may support coexistence of competing species. A seminal paper that catalyzed the study of size variation in ecology. Available online for purchase or by subscription; online-only access with registration.

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  • Hutchinson, G. Evelyn. 1961. The paradox of the plankton. American Naturalist 95.882: 137–145.

    DOI: 10.1086/282171Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A landmark paper in which Hutchinson embraces the concept that conditions within ecological systems may change rapidly enough to prevent interactions such as interspecific competition from leading to competitive exclusion. Available online for purchase or by subscription; online-only access with registration.

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  • Hutchinson, G. Evelyn. 1964. The influence of the environment. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 51.5: 930–934.

    DOI: 10.1073/pnas.51.5.930Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Essay includes a consideration of biochemical processes in the context of the Earth’s chemical composition as well as a prescient forecast of the importance of bioinformatics approaches as a complement to technological advances in reading genetic coding.

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Books

Hutchinson published books regularly throughout his career. Collectively, they reflect the evolution of his research and his development from a practicing scientist to a communicator of science. His first book focused on the Yale–North India expedition (Hutchinson 1936) initiating his tendency to consider together both cultural and biological subjects. Hutchinson next published a tome of more than five hundred pages on guano islands (Hutchinson 1950). This effort seems extraordinary given the topic until one considers that Hutchinson was closely interested in the ways that organisms could shape ecological systems rather than simply being affected by them. Guano islands offer an obvious example of animal activity writ large as geography. Hutchinson published three books of collected essays (Hutchinson 1953; Hutchinson 1962; Hutchinson 1965). Frequent sources for the essays included lectures as well as reprints of articles first published in his long running “Marginalia” column in American Scientist. From the 1950s through the end of his life, Hutchinson published four volumes within his A Treatise on Limnology. In 1978, several years after he retired from teaching, Hutchinson published his only textbook (Hutchinson 1978).

  • Hutchinson, G. Evelyn. 1936. The clear mirror: A pattern of life in Goa and in Indian Tibet. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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    Reflections based on Hutchinson’s experiences on the Yale–North India Expedition in 1932. A mix of biological and cultural subjects is covered. The book offers an early glimpse of Hutchinson’s intellectual omnivory.

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  • Hutchinson, G. Evelyn. 1950. Survey of contemporary knowledge of biogeochemistry 3: The biogeochemistry of vertebrate excretion. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 96. New York: American Museum of Natural History.

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    This remarkable book describes the origin and biogeochemistry of guano islands. The subject was important to Hutchinson because of his interest in the ways that organisms shape the movement of materials and energy through ecosystems. Guano islands offer a situation in which the role of animals in creating a unique type of ecosystem cannot be denied. Available for download online.

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  • Hutchinson, G. Evelyn. 1953. The itinerant ivory tower: Scientific and literary essays. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.

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    Hutchinson’s first book of collected essays. Covers a variety of scientific and literary subjects. Includes book reviews.

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  • Hutchinson, G. Evelyn. 1962. The enchanted voyage and other studies. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.

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    Collected essays on scientific and cultural subjects.

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  • Hutchinson, G. Evelyn. 1965. The ecological theater and the evolutionary play. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.

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    Collected essays on a variety of themes connected by a focus on the links between ecology and evolution. Hutchinson had a longstanding interest in the ways that environment and organism influenced each other and how ecological interactions could translate into evolutionary change.

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  • Hutchinson, G. Evelyn. 1978. An introduction to population ecology. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.

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    Hutchinson’s only textbook. Published several years after Hutchinson had retired, it is based on his teaching at Yale. Hutchinson’s approach to science and, in particular, his focus on finding principles by linking observations are well displayed here.

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Reaching Broader Audiences

As Hutchinson became better known his publication output turned increasingly to reaching broader audiences. Some essays were initially published as columns in American Scientist (Hutchinson 1983). Over several decades, Hutchinson published dozens of articles in the American Scientist within a regular column entitled Marginalia. Hutchinson trained his eye on a huge array of subjects in these concise and entertaining pieces. Other essays and book chapters were based on lectures presented at meetings and celebrations (Hutchinson 1959; Hutchinson 1966). Hutchinson had a remarkable knack for marking such occasions with real insight. Throughout his career, Hutchinson had a deep interest in connecting nature and culture, represented here by an article in Isis on illuminated medieval manuscripts (Hutchinson 1974). The importance of natural history collections and museums is an oft repeated theme in Hutchinson’s writings (Hutchinson 1959; Hutchinson 1966). Hutchinson 1980 argues cogently that such collections provided grist for inductive insights making the case in an essay that begins with his experience within a moth collection.

  • Hutchinson, G. Evelyn. 1959. The role of the museum in teaching and research. Yale Alumni Magazine 22:17–19.

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    Hutchinson viewed museums as a critical resource for understanding the world. He used collections extensively in his own work and often gained insights from what he could learn from them. This essay was written for a lecture delivered at the opening of a new building at Yale.

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  • Hutchinson, G. Evelyn. 1966. On being a meter and a half long. In Knowledge among men: Eleven essays on science, culture, and society commemorating the 200th anniversary celebration of the birth of James Smithson. Edited by Paul H. Oehser, 83–92. New York: Simon and Schuster.

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    Written at a time when their utility was being questioned, Hutchinson mounts an eloquent defense of the uses of museums and the pursuit of taxonomic understanding. Taxonomy is presented as a critical means to develop understanding at the interface between evolutionary biology and ecology.

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  • Hutchinson, G. Evelyn. 1967. Ecological biology in relation to the maintenance and improvement of the human environment In Applied Science and Technology Programs: A report to the Committee on Science and Astronautics, U.S. House of Representatives. Edited by National Academy of Science, 71–185. Washington, DC: National Academy of Science.

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    A report to Congress noteworthy for a very clear and prescient description of the likely effects of human caused increases of CO2 in the atmosphere on global climate.

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  • Hutchinson, G. Evelyn. 1974. Attitudes toward nature in medieval England: The Alphonso and Bird Psalters. Isis 65.1: 5–37.

    DOI: 10.1086/351215Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Hutchinson considers what we can learn about natural history and about the values of medieval people from the imagery within illuminated manuscripts. Available online for purchase or by subscription; online-only access with registration.

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  • Hutchinson, G. Evelyn. 1980. Conjectures arising in a quiet museum: Antenna. Bulletin of the Royal Entomological Society of London 4:92, 97–98.

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    Hutchinson is inspired by diversity of form in a moth species to consider the ecological dimensions of incomplete penetrance—the situation in which organisms carry alleles that are not expressed.

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  • Hutchinson, G. Evelyn. 1983. Marginalia: What is science for. American Scientist 71.6: 639–644.

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    Published fifty years after Hutchinson began writing Marginalia columns for American Scientist. A consideration of the uses of sciences revolving particularly around the need to integrate natural and social sciences. Available online by subscription; online-only access with registration.

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Collaborations and Mentorship

Hutchinson’s career is notable for the enormous legacy that he left as a mentor. At the same time, he did not coauthor many papers. A review of Hutchinson’s publications shows that the vast majority were single authored. In part this pattern stems from his practice of not placing his name on the papers of students and postdocs—even when his intellectual contributions were significant. Nevertheless, Hutchinson did collaborate in some cases resulting in experiences that he greatly valued. Work with Ursula Cowgill represents a more conventional type of collaboration in which complementary talents (Cowgill had expertise in chemistry and paleolimnology) were the basis of a shared research effort. Cowgill and Hutchinson 1964 offers an example in which the authors explore evidence for pollution of a lake during the Roman Empire. Other papers included here represent Hutchinson’s efforts as a mentor to generations of students and postdocs. Many students left Hutchinson’s group to become major influences in their own right. At the time Edmondson and Hutchinson 1934 was published, Tommy Edmondson was a high school student working in Hutchinson’s lab. He would go on to become one of the leading limnologists of the 20th century. Hutchinson and MacArthur 1959 is one of the few examples in which Hutchinson published with, arguably, his most important student. Nevertheless, the two men had profound influences on each other. MacArthur became the leading theoretical ecologist of his time before dying prematurely in 1972. Cook 1977 describes the events leading up to the publication of Lindeman 1942, describing the conceptual basis of what would become the field of ecosystem ecology. Hutchinson’s input was important to the maturation of Lindeman’s ideas and his intervention ensured that the paper would be published despite strongly critical reviews.

  • Cook, Robert E. 1977. Raymond Lindeman and the trophic-dynamic concept in ecology. Science 198:22–26.

    DOI: 10.1126/science.198.4312.22Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A window into Hutchinson as a mentor. Describes the publication of Lindeman 1942, highlighting Hutchinson’s role in its development and acceptance by the journal Ecology. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Cowgill, Ursula M., and G. Evelyn. Hutchinson. 1964. Cultural eutrophication in Lago di Monterosi during Roman antiquity. International Association of Theoretical and Applied Limnology Proceedings 15:644–645.

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    Ursula Cowgill worked with Hutchinson on a range of topics. Perhaps best known are their studies of the influences of ancient civilizations in Central America and Europe on the functioning of lakes.

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  • Edmondson, W. Tommy, and G. Evelyn. Hutchinson. 1934. Report on Rotatoria. Memoirs of the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences 10:153–186.

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    W. Tommy Edmondson began working in Hutchinson’s laboratory as a high school student and went on to become a major force in the world of limnology. This paper on rotifers was the beginning of a lifelong pursuit of their study.

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  • Hutchinson, G. Evelyn., and Robert H. MacArthur. 1959. A theoretical model of size distributions among species of animals. American Naturalist 93.869: 117–125.

    DOI: 10.1086/282063Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Robert MacArthur was Hutchinson’s best-known student. MacArthur used the quantitative beachhead Hutchinson had helped to establish within ecology and transformed the discipline through the development of a set of theories that remain subjects of close study today. This paper was one of their only formal collaborations although both men credited each other as critical influences. Available online for purchase or by subscription; online-only access with registration.

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  • Lindeman, Raymond L. 1942. The trophic-dynamic aspect of ecology. Ecology 23.4: 399–417.

    DOI: 10.2307/1930126Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A foundational paper in the history of ecosystem ecology. Submitted while Lindeman was a postdoctoral fellow at Yale, Hutchinson had a strong hand in helping him develop his ideas about the flow of energy through biological systems. Their developing collaboration was cut short by Lindeman’s premature death, which preceded publication of his now-famous paper. Available online for purchase or by subscription; online-only access with registration.

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Reception

Hutchinson gained early recognition for his research on lakes. By 1950 he had been elected to the US National Academy of Sciences. Around this same period, his work on ecological theory was developing. His engagement with these subjects increased both his audience and his standing. By the late 1970s he and his students were already credited by Gould 1979 with having revolutionized ecology. As evidenced by the review by Colwell and Fuentes 1975, niche-based ecological inquiry was seen as fundamental to the advance of the field. However, their relatively uncritical use by some scientists and poorly supported claims about the prevalence of interspecific competition eventually led to deep controversy during the 1980s. Wiens 1977 is an early paper that criticizes the approach and questions about the ubiquity of competition in nature. Ecologists led by Dan Simberloff and colleagues developed this theme further by challenging the assumptions and approaches evaluating niche based hypotheses (Simberloff and Boecklen 1981). The use of so-called Hutchinsonian ratios, based on the concept that size differences can promote species coexistence, came under particular attack. These debates fostered new standards of evidence for ecological investigations (e.g., wider use of experimentation, more rigorous use of statistical analyses). Schoener 1982, an article defending against the attacks on competition studies, captures the state of the controversy at its height. The postscript to the story reveals that, in fact, Hutchinson was on to something important. Dayan and Simberloff 2005 is a review that shows that size differences offer a likely mechanism contributing to coexistence of species.

  • Colwell, Robert K., and Eduardo R. Fuentes. 1975. Experimental studies of the niche. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 6:281–310.

    DOI: 10.1146/annurev.es.06.110175.001433Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A review of experimental inquiries into the ecological niche and, particularly, the role of niche-based differences on species coexistence. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Dayan, Tamar, and Daniel Simberloff. 2005. Ecological and community-wide character displacement: The next generation. Ecology Letters 8.8: 875–894.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2005.00791.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A review of evidence for character displacement—a pattern in which size distinctions are enhanced more when species co-occur than in isolation. The authors find strong, widespread evidence for character displacement and conclude that interspecific competition is likely to be an important mechanism in its generation.

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  • Gould, S. J. 1979. Exultation and explanation. New York Review of Books 26.8: 3–6.

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    A review of Hutchinson’s population ecology textbook that comments on his transformational influence on the field. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Schoener, Thomas W. 1982. The controversy over interspecific competition: Despite spirited criticism, competition continues to occupy a major domain in ecological thought. American Scientist 70.6: 586–595.

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    A review paper written partly in response to Wiens 1977 citing estimates of niche overlap in defense of claims that niche based explanations for species coexistence are not overblown. Available online by subscription; online-only access with registration.

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  • Simberloff, D., and W. Boecklen. 1981. Santa Rosalia reconsidered: Size ratios and competition. Evolution 35.6: 1206–1228.

    DOI: 10.2307/2408133Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    After noting that the bones in Santa Rosalia’s shrine were actually from a goat, the authors carry out statistical analyses on size ratios of co-occurring species and conclude that little evidence supports the concept of minimum size ratios necessary to support coexistence. Available online for purchase or by subscription; online-only access with registration.

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  • Wiens, J. A. 1977. On competition and variable environments: Populations may experience “ecological crunches” in variable climates, nullifying the assumptions of competition theory and limiting the usefulness of short-term studies of population patterns. American Scientist 65.5: 590–597.

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    An argument against the prevalence of competition based on observations that variation in the environment should keep populations below carrying capacity much of the time. One of the opening salvos in battles about species coexistence that traces its origin to Hutchinson’s ideas about the niche. Available online by subscription; online-only access with registration.

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Festschrifts

At the time of his retirement in 1971, Hutchinson was feted by his colleagues in the form of special issues of two scientific publications. Edmondson 1971 turns over the entire March 1971 issue of the journal Limnology and Oceanography to a consideration of his contributions. Reprinted within this issue is a well-known figure of a tree illustrating Hutchinson’s academic descendants. Today, many ecologists can trace their own lineages back to branches on that tree. A companion volume, Deevey 1972, was published within the Transactions of the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences. This issue includes scientific articles by twenty-four colleagues and former students of Hutchinson. In 2003, Yale University hosted a celebration in honor of the one hundredth anniversary of Hutchinson’s birth. The event, organized by Stephen Stearns in honor of one of his undergraduate mentors, ultimately spawned the publication of a volume reprinting selected writings by Hutchinson (see Skelly, et al. 2010, cited under General Overviews).

  • Deevey, Edward S. ed. 1972. Special issue: Growth by intussusception: Ecological essays in honor of G. Evelyn Hutchinson. Transactions of the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences 44.

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    A companion volume to the celebratory issue of Limnology and Oceanography, this issue showcased research by Hutchinson’s students and colleagues.

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  • Edmondson, Yvette H., ed. 1971. Special issue: Dedicated to G. Evelyn Hutchinson. Limnology and Oceanography 16.2.

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    Special issue of Limnology and Oceanography given over entirely to celebrating Hutchinson’s contributions to limnology. Edited and introductory article (pp. 157–171) by Yvette Edmondson. All articles are available online for download.

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Legacy

Hutchinson’s work, particularly a subset of his journal articles, continue to be cited frequently and to foster ongoing research and discovery. “Homage to Santa Rosalia” (Hutchinson 1959, cited under Ecological Theory) has maintained perhaps the lion’s share of attention. The fiftieth anniversary of its publication was commemorated in a special issue in the journal Hydrobiologia (Naselli-Flores and Rossetti 2010), which was also reprinted in book form. In part, attention to the Santa Rosalia paper stems from the critically important question Hutchinson asked, namely, why are there so many species? The answer remains elusive but it is still one of the critical questions to anyone interested in the natural world. Other papers by Hutchinson continue to intrigue as well. The ideas Hutchinson laid out in the “Paradox of the Plankton” (Hutchinson 1961, cited under Ecological Theory) remain salient in part because Hutchinson was one of the first ecologists to pursue the possibility that ecological systems were not stable and that the lack of stability could explain in some fashion why species are able to coexist on a few limiting resources. Roy and Chattopadhyay 2007 and Fox, et al. 2010 are still focused on resolving the paradox of the plankton because Hutchinson highlighted a robust, broadly observable pattern that challenged his own notions about community organization, and they remain difficult to parse. Finally, as eloquently described in Holt 2009, Hutchinson’s ideas about the niche remain critically important. Their utility has been increased by the frequent use of niche-based concepts to understand distributions and the likely influence of climate change on those distributions an example of which is offered in Hijmans and Graham 2006. They have been critical as well as the rise of macroecology, reviewed in Smith, et al. 2008, which relies heavily on the concept of the ecological niche. It is a testimony to his enduring relevance that, several decades after he posed them, scientists are still thinking about the nature of the questions Hutchinson asked about the world. Siepielski and McPeek 2010 offers an excellent example in which the research program Hutchinson developed is contrasted against newer ideas of neutral communities emerging recently.

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