Terry Erwin’s legacy: from taxonomy and natural history to biodiversity research and conservation biology

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I first met Terry Erwin, already an icon of biodiversity research, at the fantastic 20th International Congress of Entomology in Florence in 1996. His high level of scientific expertise, open mind, cooperative attitude, and enthusiasm for carabids overawed me immediately. Terry also radiated interest in other insects and whole ecosystems. Over the years, these traits have inspired many others, especially young scientists and students, as is clearly evident in the contributions of this issue (e.g. Spence 2021; Grammer 2021) and Kavanaugh (2020). In addition to Terry’s human qualities, his basic natural history approach to scientific research has significantly shaped his life’s work.
From my time as a graduate student, I literally devoured Terry’s publications, as his research made a deep impression on me. This was largely because Terry’s work was broad, ranging from classical taxonomy and natural history to sophisticated analyses of biodiversity and ecosystem services. I believe that Terry’s body of research is up-to-date and in many ways timeless, and that it will leave a lasting mark because of its broad organismic approach to biology. In this essay, I will briefly highlight what I regard as his most important research in a way that I hope will encourage others to read or even re-read it. That might be the way Terry would have been most happy to be remembered.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-39
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 16.06.2021

    Research areas

  • Biology - neotropical forests, arboreal beetles, rain-forest, systematics, carabidae, coleo, zookeys, diversity, evolution
  • Ecosystems Research