Johannes Eugenius Bulow Warming
Warming, Johannes Eugenius Bülow
WARMING, JOHANNES EUGENIUS BüLOW
(b. Mandø, Denmark, 3 November 1841; d. Copenhagen, Denmark, 2 April 1924), botany.
Warming, professor of botany at the University of Copenhagen from 1886 – 1911, laid the foundation of a new branch of botany, ecological plant geography, with the publication of his Plantesamfund (1895). During the preceding years he had published many papers on various botanical subjects, several of which rank high in the literature of that time. He also had published two excellent textbooks: Haandbog i den systematiske botanik (1879) and Den almindelige botanik (1880), both of which have since been enlarged, revised, and translated into several languages.
Warming’s father was a Lutheran minister on Mandø, one of the north Frisian Islands. From his childhood he loved the west coast of Jutland, with its marshland and dunes, on which he wrote two volumes of Dank plantevaekst: Strandvegetationen (1906) and Klitterne (1909); the third volume was Skovene (1919). The work is still important for research on the phytoecology of northwestern Europe.
While still a student, Warming became secretary to the Danish zoologist P. W. Lund, who was excavating fossil Bradypodidae at Lagoa Santa, Minas Gerais, Brazil. He spent 1863–1866 in the tropical savannah, carrying out the most detailed and thorough study of a tropical area undertaken at the time. It took twenty-five years for complete presentation of his large collections in “Symbolae ad floram Brasiliae centralis cognoscendandae,” printed in Videnskabelige Meddelelser fra Dansk naturhistorisk Forening i Kjøbenhavn (1867 – 1893). Using the “Symbolae” as a basis, Warming published Lagoa Santra, et bidrag til den biologiske plantegeografi (1892) with a lengthy summary in French — perhaps his most outstanding work.
After returning from Brazil, Warming studied for a year under Martius, Naegeli, and Ludwig Radlkofer at Munich and, in 1871, under J. L. von Hanstein at Bonn. The morphological-organogenetic point of view was then the leading principle in botany, and within a few years Warming became one of the most prominent workers in this branch of botany. His main works during this period were Erkoppen hos vortemaelken (Euphorbia) en blomst eller en blomsterstand? (1871); De l’ovule (1878); and his monograph on purple bacteria; Om nogle ved Danmarks kyster levende bakterier (1876).
In the 1870’s, however, Warming adopted the theory of evolution. From then on, he became an ardent adherent of the Lamarckian view of the causes of evolution, and his research turned from ontogeny to phylogeny. In 1876 he published his first “Smaa biologiske og morphologiske bidrag” in Botanisj Tidsskrift, a series of papers that continued into 1878. They give a masterly account of the morphology and flower biology of numerous species, mostly Danish, pointing out their adaptation to the edaphic factors. Having assumed the difficult task of classifying the plants in a morphological-biological system, Warming published the first results in the monograph Om skudbygning, overvintring og foryngelse (1884), based on his examination of Scandinavian species. One of his main works, it illustrates both his comprehensive knowledge and his power to present a subject in an easily understood manner.
Warming was the founder of plant ecology. The term “ecology,” first used by Haeckel in 1866. was introduced into botany by H. Reiter in 1885; but it was Warming who made ecology a preferred field of activity for many botanists. In Plantesamfund (1895) he formulated the program of his research: “To answer the question: Why each species has its own habit and habitat, why the species congregate to form definite communities and why these have a characteristic physiognomy.”
The book created an enormous sensation as a new attempt at grouping and characterizing the plant communities—a new phytogeographical term by which Warming meant a group of species forming a physiognomically well-defined unity, such as a meadow. In all essentials the species of a community are subject to the same external conditions arising from the ecological factors. These factors are of fundamental importance to the ecology of the individual plant and the plant community. Considering water to be the most important factor, Warming divided plant communities into four types: hydrophytic, xerophytic, halophytic, and mesophytic.
Warming’s ingenious way of elucidating the relation between the living plant and its surroundings opened an entirely new field of problems, and an immense ecological literature appeared during the following years.
Warming’s Plantesamfund (Copenhagen, 1895) was trans, into German as Lehrbuch der ökologischen Pflantzengeographie, with additions by E. Knoblauch (Berlin, 1896): later eds. (Berlin, 1902, 1918,1938) had additions by P. Graebner: into Russian (Moscow, 1901): and into English as Oecology of Plants. An Introduction to the Study of Plant-Communities (Oxford, 1909). A complete bibliography of 283 titles is in Christensen (see below).
C. F. A. Christensen, Den danske botanisk historie, 3 pts. (Copenhagen. 1924-1926). pt. 1(2), 617–665. 776–806; pt. 2. 367–399. . written by a pupil of Warming’s gives a detailed account of his life. Botanisk Tidsskrift, 39 (1927), 1–56, contains articles on Warming by L. Rosenvinge, C. Christensen, C. Ostenfeld, A. Mentz. C. Flahault. O. Juel. C. Schröter. and A. Tansley