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On October 5, 1911, botanist, educator, and ecologist Pierre Mackay Dansereau, CC GOQ FRSC, was born in Montréal. A working botanist-theorist, he developed defining insights into ecology through a lifetime of field research from the Alps to the Arctic and teaching at 20 universities on several continents. Along the way he published hundreds of scientific works and close to a dozen books.

His Biogeography; an ecological perspective introduced the concept of total attention to all aspects of an organism’s fit into its environment. Dansereau proposed that understanding the relationship of one organism to another required a perspective from interactive disciplines such as biology, geology, geography, meteorology, hydrology, genetics, etc.

He viewed any organism as living within a system of nested environments, from largest terrestrial zone and its overall systems through smaller eco-region to the smallest, most immediate micro-environment.

Teaching at Columbia University, he began to include human and urban ecology into his viewpoint, working through the collaboration of plants and humans, their land management, and their impact on the planet. His research continued and fuelled his understanding and international sharing of the human impact on nature through agriculture, urbanization and industrialization.

Dansereau came to be called a father/founder of modern ecology in journals, popular media, and reference tools. His credentials were long-lived, wide-ranging, and integrated. They included plant physiology, agronomy, biosystematics, cytology, hybrid studies, phytosociology, botanical taxonomy, parasitology, pastures and peatlands, Great Lakes aquatic vegetation, human ecology, eco-development, and environmental study from meadows to mid-towns. Dansereau’s last book, L’envers et l’endroit: le désir, le besoin et la capacité [Seeing All Sides of the Picture: desire, need and capacity] is an optimistic work on the place of humans in their environment and the impact of the environment on humans.

Among Dansereau’s many honours and awards are the Molson and the Killam prizes for outstanding contributions to social sciences, the Lawson Medal, Canadian Botanical Association for lifetime achievement, and the Dawson Medal, Royal Society of Canada for multidisciplinary contributions of knowledge.

Dansereau’s exceptional career is outlined in An Ecology of Hope, a documentary from the National Film Board of Canada.


B Bondar / Real World Content Advantage