Alfred Eaton: a Victorian naturalist at the ends of the world
Alfred Edwin Eaton (1844–1929) was amongst numerous Victorian naturalists whose exotic collections disseminated to the natural history museums of Britain laid the groundwork for our understanding of biodiversity. What sets him apart from his contemporaries was his first-hand knowledge of organisms at the polar extremes. This paper describes Eaton’s contributions to polar biology, especially in the field of entomology, from two high-latitude expeditions: the 1873 Benjamin Leigh Smith Expedition to Svalbard in the European Arctic and the 1874 British Transit of Venus Expedition to Kerguelen Island in the southern Indian Ocean. His observations of flightless polar and subpolar insects, in particular, lent support to the work of Challenger naturalist Henry Moseley and botanist Joseph Hooker on species dispersal in the Southern Ocean and on adaptations that arise in response to the unique selection pressures in harsh, isolated conditions.
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