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Charles Henry Gilbert

Charles Henry Gilbert

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Charles Henry Gilbert was a pioneer ichthyologist and fishery
Fishery
Generally, a fishery is an entity engaged in raising or harvesting fish which is determined by some authority to be a fishery. According to the FAO, a fishery is typically defined in terms of the "people involved, species or type of fish, area of water or seabed, method of fishing, class of boats,...

 biologist
Biologist
A biologist is a scientist devoted to and producing results in biology through the study of life. Typically biologists study organisms and their relationship to their environment. Biologists involved in basic research attempt to discover underlying mechanisms that govern how organisms work...

 of particular significance to natural history
Natural history
Natural history is the scientific research of plants or animals, leaning more towards observational rather than experimental methods of study, and encompasses more research published in magazines than in academic journals. Grouped among the natural sciences, natural history is the systematic study...

 of the western United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. He collected and studied fishes from Central America
Central America
Central America is the central geographic region of the Americas. It is the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent, which connects with South America on the southeast. When considered part of the unified continental model, it is considered a subcontinent...

 north to Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

 and described many new species
Species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

. Later he became an expert on Pacific salmon and was a noted conservationist
Conservationist
Conservationists are proponents or advocates of conservation. They advocate for the protection of all the species in an ecosystem with a strong focus on the natural environment...

 of the Pacific Northwest
Pacific Northwest
The Pacific Northwest is a region in northwestern North America, bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the west and, loosely, by the Rocky Mountains on the east. Definitions of the region vary and there is no commonly agreed upon boundary, even among Pacific Northwesterners. A common concept of the...

. He is considered by many as the intellectual founder of American fisheries biology
Biology
Biology is a natural science concerned with the study of life and living organisms, including their structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, distribution, and taxonomy. Biology is a vast subject containing many subdivisions, topics, and disciplines...

.[1,2]




Early life and education


Born in Rockford, Illinois
Rockford, Illinois
Rockford is a mid-sized city located on both banks of the Rock River in far northern Illinois. Often referred to as "The Forest City", Rockford is the county seat of Winnebago County, Illinois, USA. As reported in the 2010 U.S. census, the city was home to 152,871 people, the third most populated...

, Gilbert spent his early years in Indianapolis, Indiana
Indianapolis, Indiana
Indianapolis is the capital of the U.S. state of Indiana, and the county seat of Marion County, Indiana. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city's population is 839,489. It is by far Indiana's largest city and, as of the 2010 U.S...

, where he came under the influence of his high school teacher, David Starr Jordan
David Starr Jordan
David Starr Jordan, Ph.D., LL.D. was a leading eugenicist, ichthyologist, educator and peace activist. He was president of Indiana University and Stanford University.-Early life and education:...

 (1851‒1931). When Jordan became Professor of Natural History at Butler University
Butler University
Butler University is a private university located in Indianapolis, Indiana. Founded in 1855 and named after founder Ovid Butler, the university offers 60 degree programs to 4,400 students through six colleges: business, communication, education, liberal Arts and sciences, pharmacy and health...

 in Indianapolis
Indianapolis
Indianapolis is the capital of the U.S. state of Indiana, and the county seat of Marion County, Indiana. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city's population is 839,489. It is by far Indiana's largest city and, as of the 2010 U.S...

, Gilbert followed and received his B.A. degree in 1879. Jordan moved to Indiana University
Indiana University
Indiana University is a multi-campus public university system in the state of Indiana, United States. Indiana University has a combined student body of more than 100,000 students, including approximately 42,000 students enrolled at the Indiana University Bloomington campus and approximately 37,000...

, in Bloomington
Bloomington, Indiana
Bloomington is a city in and the county seat of Monroe County in the southern region of the U.S. state of Indiana. The population was 80,405 at the 2010 census....

, in the fall of 1879, and Gilbert again followed, receiving his M.S. degree in 1882 and Ph.D. in 1883. His doctorate was the first such degree ever awarded by Indiana University
Indiana University
Indiana University is a multi-campus public university system in the state of Indiana, United States. Indiana University has a combined student body of more than 100,000 students, including approximately 42,000 students enrolled at the Indiana University Bloomington campus and approximately 37,000...

.[2,3]

Personal life


Little is known about Gilbert's personal life.[4,5,6] His wife, Julia Ringold Hughes (born December 6, 1849, Bloomington, Indiana
Bloomington, Indiana
Bloomington is a city in and the county seat of Monroe County in the southern region of the U.S. state of Indiana. The population was 80,405 at the 2010 census....

) was a student at Indiana University
Indiana University
Indiana University is a multi-campus public university system in the state of Indiana, United States. Indiana University has a combined student body of more than 100,000 students, including approximately 42,000 students enrolled at the Indiana University Bloomington campus and approximately 37,000...

 and became superintendent of high schools in Bloomington
Bloomington, Indiana
Bloomington is a city in and the county seat of Monroe County in the southern region of the U.S. state of Indiana. The population was 80,405 at the 2010 census....

. She died in California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 on November 30, 1916. There were three children, Carl (1891‒1963), Winnifred (Mrs. Carl F. Braun, 1886‒1980), and Ruth (Mrs. Percy R. Baker, 1885‒1982), all of whom graduated from Stanford University
Stanford University
The Leland Stanford Junior University, commonly referred to as Stanford University or Stanford, is a private research university on an campus located near Palo Alto, California. It is situated in the northwestern Santa Clara Valley on the San Francisco Peninsula, approximately northwest of San...

.[2,7,8]

Early and mid-career


Jordan and Gilbert, along with other students forming the so-called "Jordan School of Ichthyology," explored the streams and rivers of Indiana
Indiana
Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

 and the southeastern United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 in the late 1870s, describing a number of new fishes. In 1879, Jordan was asked by Spencer Fullerton Baird
Spencer Fullerton Baird
Spencer Fullerton Baird was an American ornithologist, ichthyologist and herpetologist. Starting in 1850 he was assistant-secretary and later secretary of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C...

 (1823‒1887), Director of the U.S. Fish Commission, to undertake a survey of the fisheries of the Pacific Coast
Pacific Coast
A country's Pacific coast is the part of its coast bordering the Pacific Ocean.-The Americas:Countries on the western side of the Americas have a Pacific coast as their western border.* Geography of Canada* Geography of Chile* Geography of Colombia...

 of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. Jordan took leave of absence from Indiana University
Indiana University
Indiana University is a multi-campus public university system in the state of Indiana, United States. Indiana University has a combined student body of more than 100,000 students, including approximately 42,000 students enrolled at the Indiana University Bloomington campus and approximately 37,000...

, chose Gilbert as his assistant, and headed west to San Francisco, California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, in December 1879. Their one-year pioneering survey of fishes of the West, from Southern California
Southern California
Southern California is a megaregion, or megapolitan area, in the southern area of the U.S. state of California. Large urban areas include Greater Los Angeles and Greater San Diego. The urban area stretches along the coast from Ventura through the Southland and Inland Empire to San Diego...

 to Vancouver Island
Vancouver Island
Vancouver Island is a large island in British Columbia, Canada. It is one of several North American locations named after George Vancouver, the British Royal Navy officer who explored the Pacific Northwest coast of North America between 1791 and 1794...

, British Columbia
British Columbia
British Columbia is the westernmost of Canada's provinces and is known for its natural beauty, as reflected in its Latin motto, Splendor sine occasu . Its name was chosen by Queen Victoria in 1858...

, laid the foundation for nearly 50 years of study of Pacific fishes and fisheries by the team of Jordan and Gilbert.[3,9]

By the time Gilbert received his doctoral degree at the age of 24, he was the author or co-author (mostly with Jordan) of over 80 scientific publications. Gilbert served at Indiana University
Indiana University
Indiana University is a multi-campus public university system in the state of Indiana, United States. Indiana University has a combined student body of more than 100,000 students, including approximately 42,000 students enrolled at the Indiana University Bloomington campus and approximately 37,000...

 from 1880‒1884, first as instructor, then as Assistant Professor in Natural Sciences and Modern Languages. In 1884, he accepted the Professorship of Natural History at the University of Cincinnati
University of Cincinnati
The University of Cincinnati is a comprehensive public research university in Cincinnati, Ohio, and a part of the University System of Ohio....

, in Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

, remaining there until December 1888. In 1889, Gilbert returned to Indiana University
Indiana University
Indiana University is a multi-campus public university system in the state of Indiana, United States. Indiana University has a combined student body of more than 100,000 students, including approximately 42,000 students enrolled at the Indiana University Bloomington campus and approximately 37,000...

 as Professor of Natural
History.[1,2,3]

Jordan became President of Indiana University
Indiana University
Indiana University is a multi-campus public university system in the state of Indiana, United States. Indiana University has a combined student body of more than 100,000 students, including approximately 42,000 students enrolled at the Indiana University Bloomington campus and approximately 37,000...

 in 1885. However, in 1890, U.S. Senator Leland Stanford
Leland Stanford
Amasa Leland Stanford was an American tycoon, industrialist, robber baron, politician and founder of Stanford University.-Early years:...

 (1824‒1893) and his wife Jane Eliza Lathrop Stanford (1828‒1905) chose Jordan to be the founding president of a new university to be established in Palo Alto, California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, in memory of their deceased son, Leland Stanford, Jr.
Leland Stanford, Jr.
Leland Stanford Jr. , Leland DeWitt Stanford until age nine, was the only child of Governor Leland Stanford of California and his wife Jane Stanford née Lathrop, and is the namesake of Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, United States.Leland Jr...

 (1868‒1884). Among Jordan’s first appointments to the new faculty was Charles Henry Gilbert as the Chairman of the Zoology Department.[2,3,10]

Career at Stanford University


At Stanford University
Stanford University
The Leland Stanford Junior University, commonly referred to as Stanford University or Stanford, is a private research university on an campus located near Palo Alto, California. It is situated in the northwestern Santa Clara Valley on the San Francisco Peninsula, approximately northwest of San...

, Charles Gilbert began a career that spanned nearly 37 years.[8,10] He concentrated on Pacific fishes, mostly marine, and participated in numerous expeditions aboard the U.S. Fish Commission Steamer Albatross
Albatross
Albatrosses, of the biological family Diomedeidae, are large seabirds allied to the procellariids, storm-petrels and diving-petrels in the order Procellariiformes . They range widely in the Southern Ocean and the North Pacific...

. These cruises included three to Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

, two off California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, and one each to the Hawaiian Islands
Hawaiian Islands
The Hawaiian Islands are an archipelago of eight major islands, several atolls, numerous smaller islets, and undersea seamounts in the North Pacific Ocean, extending some 1,500 miles from the island of Hawaii in the south to northernmost Kure Atoll...

 and the Japanese Archipelago
Japanese Archipelago
The , which forms the country of Japan, extends roughly from northeast to southwest along the northeastern coast of the Eurasia mainland, washing upon the northwestern shores of the Pacific Ocean...

.[2,11,12] As a pioneer descriptive ichthyologist, Gilbert described either alone or with others about 117 new genera and 620 species of fishes. He published about 172 papers on fishes.[2]

Around 1909, Gilbert turned his attention to the study of Pacific salmon and soon became the foremost expert on these economically important fishes. He studied salmon
Salmon
Salmon is the common name for several species of fish in the family Salmonidae. Several other fish in the same family are called trout; the difference is often said to be that salmon migrate and trout are resident, but this distinction does not strictly hold true...

 from California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 to Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

, but concentrated his efforts in British Columbia
British Columbia
British Columbia is the westernmost of Canada's provinces and is known for its natural beauty, as reflected in its Latin motto, Splendor sine occasu . Its name was chosen by Queen Victoria in 1858...

 (from about 1912‒1921) and in Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

 (from 1918‒1927). He was the first to correctly apply the scale method to aging of Pacific salmon, he pioneered racial studies of salmon
Salmon
Salmon is the common name for several species of fish in the family Salmonidae. Several other fish in the same family are called trout; the difference is often said to be that salmon migrate and trout are resident, but this distinction does not strictly hold true...

 using scales, and he was instrumental in establishing tagging programs on salmon
Salmon
Salmon is the common name for several species of fish in the family Salmonidae. Several other fish in the same family are called trout; the difference is often said to be that salmon migrate and trout are resident, but this distinction does not strictly hold true...

 in Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

. He was the first to confirm the “home stream” theory to spawning salmon
Salmon
Salmon is the common name for several species of fish in the family Salmonidae. Several other fish in the same family are called trout; the difference is often said to be that salmon migrate and trout are resident, but this distinction does not strictly hold true...

. Additionally, he was also one of the very first scientists to consider the population dynamics
Population dynamics
Population dynamics is the branch of life sciences that studies short-term and long-term changes in the size and age composition of populations, and the biological and environmental processes influencing those changes...

 of northwest stocks of salmon
Salmon
Salmon is the common name for several species of fish in the family Salmonidae. Several other fish in the same family are called trout; the difference is often said to be that salmon migrate and trout are resident, but this distinction does not strictly hold true...

.[2,8,13]

In his later years, Gilbert became an outspoken champion of the need for conservation
Wildlife management
Wildlife management attempts to balance the needs of wildlife with the needs of people using the best available science. Wildlife management can include game keeping, wildlife conservation and pest control...

 of Pacific salmon resources, warning all who would listen that this resource was in dire jeopardy unless over-fishing was curtailed. His world view was far ahead of his time and he urged the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries to instigate data collection programs for Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

 salmon
Salmon
Salmon is the common name for several species of fish in the family Salmonidae. Several other fish in the same family are called trout; the difference is often said to be that salmon migrate and trout are resident, but this distinction does not strictly hold true...

.[1]


Always formal and proper, Gilbert nevertheless was a demanding person with a sharp eye and an even sharper temper. He supervised the graduate studies of several ichthyologists and fishery biologists who became notable in their field, among them William Francis Thompson (1888‒1965) and Carl Levitt Hubbs (1894‒1979).[1,2,7,8]

Legacy



Gilbert died in 1928 at the age of 68, but he is remembered and honored by ichthyologists and fishery biologists around the world for his many contributions. The Gilbert Fisheries Society was established in 1931 at the College of Fisheries
College of Fisheries
College of Fisheries is located in the city of Mangalore which is headquarters of Dakshina Kannada district. The college offers courses in graduate, undergraduate and Phd levels. It is also involved in research of fisheries science. It has two campus within Mangalooru. One at Hoigebazar, another at...

, University of Washington
University of Washington
University of Washington is a public research university, founded in 1861 in Seattle, Washington, United States. The UW is the largest university in the Northwest and the oldest public university on the West Coast. The university has three campuses, with its largest campus in the University...

 (UW). The organization was short lived, however, and the society was reconstituted in 1989 as the Gilbert Ichthyological Society. A U.S. Bureau of Commercial Fisheries research vessel was commissioned in 1952 as the Charles H. Gilbert and a building at Stanford University
Stanford University
The Leland Stanford Junior University, commonly referred to as Stanford University or Stanford, is a private research university on an campus located near Palo Alto, California. It is situated in the northwestern Santa Clara Valley on the San Francisco Peninsula, approximately northwest of San...

 is named the Charles H. Gilbert Biological Sciences Building.[2]

In 1998, the UW School of Fisheries (now the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences) was the recipient of the "Dorothy T. Gilbert Endowed Ichthyology Research Fund," established by Dorothy Townsend Gilbert (1929‒2008), the wife of William W. Gilbert, the late grandson of Charles Henry. In 2008, the Dorothy T. Gilbert Endowed Professorship was established in the UW College of Ocean and Fisheries Science (now the College of the Environment) with the initial occupant of that position being the distinguished UW ichthyologist, Theodore Wells Pietsch III (1945‒ ).

External Links


Gilbert Ichthyological Society

Dorothy T. Gilbert, see p. 10

Theodore W. Pietsch