Library of Congress

National Book Festival

Early in his career, Edward Wilson conducted work on the classification and ecology of ants in New Guinea and other Pacific islands, and in the American tropics. In 1963 his work and his conception of species equilibrium led him to the theory of island biogeography, which he developed with Robert H. MacArthur of Princeton University. In their theory, immigration and extinction, the determinants of biodiversity at the species level, were tied to area (distance of islands from source regions) and the basic properties of ecology and demography. The work culminated in their 1967 book, "The Theory of Island Biogeography," which has been a standard reference work ever since. In the late 1950s and 1960s, Wilson played a key role in the development of the new field of chemical ecology. In 2003 Wilson published "Pheidole in the New World: A Dominant, Hyperdiverse Ant Genus," a monograph comprising 19 percent of the known ant species of the Western Hemisphere. Of the 624 species covered, 337 were new to science. His new book, "Anthill: A Novel" (W.W. Norton), is a work of fiction. Wilson lives in Massachusetts.

Previous National Book Festival Appearances

Edward O. Wilson