Maria Sibylla Merian: The First Ecologist?

by Pam Thompson, Manager of Adult Education
March 2, 2016

Kay Etheridge, PhD

Maria Sibylla Merian: The First Ecologist?

Kay Etheridge, PhD, Professor of Biology, Gettysburg College
Tuesday, March 29, 7:00–8:30pm
Location: Hunnewell Building
In 1699 a 52 year-old artist/naturalist embarked in Amsterdam for a two-month sailing voyage to the Dutch colony of Surinam in South America. Maria Sibylla Merian then spent two years in the tropical forests of Surinam studying insects and their food plants, an undertaking which today would be considered ecological science. The book that resulted from this extraordinary undertaking, Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium, was the first to show New World plants and animals together in colorful images. By this time in her life Merian was a renowned naturalist, and already had published two books on European moths and butterflies, in which she pioneered the depiction of plants as hosts for specific insect species. Kay Etheridge, PhD, will provide an overview of Merian’s major contributions to the study of natural history and her considerable influence on naturalists and scientists who followed her.

Fee $5 member, $10 nonmember

Register online or call 617-384-5277.

Kay Etheridge is Professor of Biology at Gettysburg College. Her current scholarship centers on the integration of natural history images and the history of biology with a focus on Maria Sibylla Merian. She is a founding member of the Maria Sibylla Merian Society, and her forthcoming book on the biology of Merian’s caterpillar books will be published by Brill. Earlier publications in physiology and ecology include studies on tropical bats, manatees, lizards, and salamanders. In addition to biology courses she teaches a seminar on creativity in art and science and a course on Renaissance Kunstkammer.

Offered with Friends of Wellesley College Botanic Gardens

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