Eugen Warming and Ecology

Eugen Warming

Eugen Warming

On November 3, 1841Danish botanist Eugen Warming was born. Warming ia considered a main founding figure of the scientific discipline of ecology. He wrote the first textbook on plant ecology in 1895, taught the first university course in ecology and gave the concept its meaning and content.

Eugen Warming attended the University of Copenhagen. However, he left the university in order to work with the Danish palaeontologist Peter Wilhelm Lund, who worked in Brazil. After his return, Warming continued his education and earned his Doctorate degree in 1871. Eugen Warming became docent of botany at the University of Copenhagen, the polytechnic, and the Pharmaceutical College. In 1882 he was appointed professor of botany at Stockholms högskola. In 1885 Warming was appointed professor of botany at the University of Copenhagen and director of the Copenhagen Botanical Garden .

To Warming’s most important publications belongs his book Plantesamfund. It was based on plant geography at the University of Copenhagen and itroduced all major biomes. His impact on the development of ecology was to explain how nature solved similar problems like drought, flooding, cold, salt or herbivory in similar way, despite using very different ‘raw material’ in different regions of the world.

Eugen Warming became known as a great teacher, whose presentation of the subject was useful far beyond his lecture theatre in Copenhagen. In order to improve his teaching, Warming took his students to the botanical garden. However, to teach plant ecology, Warming figured that he needed his students to get out in nature. He applied for a grant to take students on longer excursions every year from 1893 and every third year these went to western Jutland, once to Bornholm, otherwise to Zealand. The excursion notes were published which included introductions to the environment and plant adaptation in dunes, salt marshes and other habitats.

Eugen Warming was a member of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters. He further served on the board of directors of the Carlsberg Foundation and served on the board of the Geological Survey of Denmark.

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