Edward Forbes

(1815—1854) natural historian

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  • Ecology and Conservation


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A British naturalist who studied medicine but abandoned it for natural history following the publication in the Magazine of Natural History (1835–36) of the botanical results of a tour of Norway he made in 1833. He was appointed curator of the museum of the Geological Society of London (1842), professor of botany at King's College, London (1843), palaeontologist to the Geological Survey of Great Britain (1844), professor of natural history to the Royal School of Mines (1851), and professor of natural history at the University of Edinburgh (1854). It was in the Memoirs of the Geological Survey that, in 1846, he published his major contribution to the study of plant geography. In ‘On the Connexion between the Distribution of the Existing Fauna and Flora of the British Isles, and the Geological Changes which have Affected their Area’ he proposed that British plants may be considered as five distinguishable groups, most of which entered by migrating across land before, during, and after the Glacial (i.e. Pleistocene) epoch.

Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry — Ecology and Conservation.

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