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Darwin's Man in BrazilThe Evolving Science of Fritz Müller$
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David A. West

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780813062600

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813062600.001.0001

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Botany and the Return to the Itajaí, 1865–1869

Botany and the Return to the Itajaí, 1865–1869

(p.103) 5 Botany and the Return to the Itajaí, 1865–1869
Darwin's Man in Brazil

David A. West

University Press of Florida

Müller reacted to Darwin in three phases. First, between 1861 and 1863 he restructured his own research after reading Darwin’s Origin. Next, in 1865, he initiated correspondence with Darwin in direct engagement of Darwin’s projects. Third, after returning to Blumenau in 1867, he developed research on new groups of organisms. Three topics pursued by Müller between 1865 and 1867 were stimulated directly by Darwin: climbing plants (over 50 genera near Desterro with disparate ways of twining, some new to Darwin); heterostyly; and complex orchid adaptations affecting fertilization involving coadaptations with insect pollinators. Much of Müller’s research on orchids is now lost; it was set aside for an abandoned book project. His independent research often engaged Darwinian topics, including species formation, adaptations of plants to prevent self-fertilization, and the role of natural selection in shaping plant–insect coadaptations. The chapter also covers the changing fortunes of the Blumenau colony and August and Fritz Müller’s efforts to devise and teach improved agricultural methods.

Keywords:   Charles Darwin, research, climbing plants, orchids, coadaptation, heterostyly, pollinators, plants, insects, species formation, natural selection

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