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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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Evolutionary Studies, 1876–1881

Evolutionary Studies, 1876–1881

Chapter:
(p.138) 7 Evolutionary Studies, 1876–1881
Source:
Darwin's Man in Brazil
Author(s):

David A. West

Publisher:
University Press of Florida
DOI:10.5744/florida/9780813062600.003.0008

As traveling naturalist, Müller explored the biologically distinctive highlands north of Blumenau, The general themes of his very diverse research included convergent evolution, parallel adaptations at various life history stages, (e.g., of freshwater and marine crabs and of caddis flies living in diverse habitats), and complex adaptations of interacting species (e.g., fig trees and fig wasps, their obligate pollinators). An 1879 family tragedy brought with it many difficulties. Daughter Rosa, with whom Müller hoped to write a book on Brazilian natural history, committed suicide in Germany after completing her studies. Then the Itajaí River, which runs through Blumenau, flooded 14.6m above its usual height. There were hairbreadth escapes and major losses, and Müller devoted much time to a relief committee for the province. It took several months for him to restore his miniscule office and longer to return to serious research. The National Museum’s institutional and political problems threatened his working life and his job.

Keywords:   exploration, traveling naturalist, highlands, convergent evolution, correlated adaptations, intraspecific variation, suicide, National Museum, Itajaí River, flood

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