Jean-Henri Fabre   1823-1915

 
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Jean-Henri Fabre.

  

Jean-Henri Fabre is well known for his popularization of insect natural history, especially in the ten volumes of Souvenirs Entomoligiques. Although a reclusive amateur, with no scientific training, he was an acute observer of insect behavior. He combined his observations (most made in his own backyard) with a humanistic writing style that made his books popular, at least later in his life; during most of his life, the successive volumes of Souvenirs Entomologiques attracted only mild attention. Fabre was 84 when the last volume appeared, and soon afterward he was "discovered." He was elected to numerous scientific societies, provided a government pension, and even the President of France came to visit him.

In volumes 5 and 6 of the Souvenirs, Fabre detailed the behavior and life history of local species of Copris, Scarabaeus (Scarabaeinae), and Geotrupes (Geotrupidae). In volume 8 he followed the life history of species of Cetonia, Oxythrea, and Protaetia (Cetoniinae).

Gonzalo Halffter and Eric Matthews noted that the importance of Fabre's works cannot be overemphasized because, quite apart from their popularizing influence, he alone set up the standards of observational patience and accuracy that subsequent workers were then obligated to match.

References:

Fabre, A. 1921. The Life of Jean Henri Fabre. Dodd, Mead, and Co., New York.

Favret, C. 1999. Jean-Henri Fabre: his life experiences and predisposition against Darwinism. American Entomologist 45: 38-48.

Pasteur, G. 1994. Jean Henri Fabre. Scientific American 271:74.8.

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University of Nebraska-Lincoln State Museum - Division of Entomology