Edward Osborne Wilson

Wilson, Edward Osborne (1929-) is an American biologist known for his contributions to the study of animal societies. Wilson helped develop the field of sociobiology, which studies the biological basis for the social behavior of human beings and animals.

Wilson argued that genes (hereditary material) heavily influence how species behave. Wilson made extensive studies of the social behavior of ants. He observed ant populations worldwide, classifying hundreds of ant species. His work with ants also led him to learn how geography, or natural surroundings, plays a role in the formation of species. These and other findings by Wilson helped advance biogeography, the science of the distribution of living things.

Wilson was born on June 10, 1929, in Birmingham, Alabama. He received his Ph.D. degree from Harvard University in 1955. After spending 10 months studying ants in the tropics. Wilson joined the faculty at Harvard in 1956, becoming a full professor there in 1964. He has since held various teaching and research posts at Harvard and its Museum of Comparative Zoology.

Wilson's many books include The Theory of Island Biogeography (1967), written with the American biologist Robert H. MacArthur, as well as Sociobiology The New Synthesis (1975), The Diversity of Life (1992), The Future of Life (2002), and his autobiography, Naturalist (1994). Two of his works won the Pulitzer Prize for general non-fiction: On Human Nature (1978) and The Ants (1990), which he wrote with the German zoologist Bert Holldobler.