In memoriam : François Bourlière, 1913-1993

François Vuilleumier, Department of Ornithology, The American Museum of Natural History, New York, USA

Francois Bourlière, a Corresponding Fellow of the AOU since 1954, died suddenly in Boulogne, France, on 10 November 1993. He is survived by his wife, two sons, one daughter, and eight grandchildren. With his passing the French and international scientific communities have lost a remarkable scientist who pursued two careers simultaneously. He was one of the most influential French ecologists and one of the best-known French gerontologists of the second half of this century. Born 21 December 1913 in Roanne (Loire, France), Francois Marie Gabriel Bourlière studied medicine at the University of Paris, where he obtained his Doctorate in 1940 and his Agrégation in 1949. After being Professor of Physiology at Rouen's School of Medicine (1946- 1949), he moved to the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Paris, where he became Maitre de Conferences (Assistant Professor; 1949-1959), then Full Professor (1959-1968) of Experimental Medicine, and Professor of Gerontology (1969-1983). Concurrently, he taught mammalian ecology as Chargé de Cours (Adjunct Professor) at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Paris (1962-1980). In addition, Bourlière founded in 1972 and directed until 1983 the Gerontology Research Unit (U 118) of INSERM (Institute of Health and Medical Research), and was a staff member of the Paris Hospitals (1963-1983). As a practicing gerontologist who taught and headed an important research institute, Bourlière published numerous articles and wrote or edited several books, including Précis de gérontologie (1955, Russian translation 1960), Sénescence et sénilité (1958, Russian translation 1962), Progrès en Gérontologie (1969), and Gérontologie: Biologie et clinique (1982). He was coeditor of the journal Gerontologia from 1957 to 1970, and editor-in-chief of Gerontology from 1971 to 1983. If Bourlière had been only a gerontologist with an international reputation, his career would have been considered successful enough. However, he was also an ornithologist, a mammalogist, and an ecologist who pursued his hobby, as he called his nonmedical career, just as vigorously. During his parallel career he was editor-in-chief of Revue d'Ecologie (formerly La Terre et la Vie) from 1949 until his death, and published 16 books, including: Eléments d'un guide bibliographique du naturaliste (2 vols., 1940- 1941); Vie et moeurs des mammifères (1951, published in English as The Natural History of Mammals in 1954, revised 1956, second revised edition 1964); Le Monde des Mammifères (1954, translated in six languages); Introduction de l'écologie des ongulés (1960); The Land and Wildlife of Eurasia (1964); African Ecology and Human Evolution (coedited with F. Clark Howell, 1963); Problèmes d'gchantillonnage des peuplements animaux terrestres (coedited with M. Lamotte, 1969); Problèmes d'échantillonnage des peuplements animaux aquatiquesStructure et fonctionnement des écosystèmes terrestres (1978); Tropical Savannas (Ecosystems of the World, volume 13, 1983, reprinted 1992); A Primate Radiation: Evolutionary Biology of African Guenons (coedited with A. Gautier-Hion, J.P. Gautier, and J. Kingdon, 1988); and Vertebrates in Complex Ecosystems (coedited with M. Har- melin-Vivien, 1989). Francois Bourlière translated into French Birds as Animals (Les Oiseaux dans le règne animal, 1949) by James Fisher, a book that had much influence on French ornithology in the early fifties. Bourlière also wrote ornithological articles in journals like the Wilson Bulletin, L'Oiseau et la Revue française d'ornithologie, Revue Suisse de Zoologie, Comptes rendus des séances de la Société de Biologie, and Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. Among his most significant publications on birds are probably those on the breeding and physiology of the Emperor Penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri) in Antarctica and on the interactions between resident and migrant birds in tropical west Africa. Perhaps even more important than his productivity in gerontology and vertebrate biolo-gy, however, are Bourlière's contributions to conservation, education, and science policy. Largely stemming from his fieldwork in Africa in the early sixties, Bourlière became concerned with the fate of Africa's fauna. He published detailed articles on the conservation of selected taxa, and more general ones on conservation policy and the role of national parks. An indefatigable traveller, Bourlière attended international meetings year after year to promote the cause of conservation, especially in the tropics. Back home, he was active in conservation organizations. Thus, he was Vice President (1960-1963) and President (1963-1966) of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), President of the French Société Nationale de Protection de la Nature (1972-1982), and Chairman of the Executive Council of Man and the Biosphere (MAB) at UNESCO (1971-1975), a wide-ranging program that he helped start. As an educator, Francois Bourlière encouraged young researchers to carry out fieldwork in the tropics, reviewed their progress during their thesis work, insisted that they publish their results, and helped them find jobs once they had obtained their degree. Many of today's most important avian and mammalian ecologists in France, thus, are in his debt. Worried that ecology in France was not on an equal footing with more established sciences, Bourlière found time to lobby successfully, especially within the powerful Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS). As Jacques Blondel (in lift.) put it: "People of my generation owe him just about everything that was done so that modern ecology [would] be fully accepted within the CNRS, the University System, and other institutions .... " Bourlière was rewarded by numerous honors, including two doctorates honoris causa (University of Ulster, 1973; University of Sherbooke, 1992), the French Legion of Honor (Chevalier, 1970; Officer, 1989), the Dutch Royal Order of the Golden Ark (1974), Corresponding Membership at the American Museum of Natural History (1974), and Honorary Membership in World Wildlife Fund International (1984). Lest this memorial piece appear as only a list of accomplishments, I wish to emphasize the personal side of Francois Bourlière. During my visits to Paris, he would invite me to his magnificent apartment, where exquisite meals were served and where the topics ranged from the latest ornithological discoveries to mathematical models in ecology, and from Australian politics to the most recent literary prizes in France. When overseas guests were present, the conversation would flow from French into English or German. His wife and children imparted a warm family atmosphere to these magical reunions. Bourlière was always up on the latest literature, across taxa from birds to plants, across disciplines, and on a worldwide basis. In the Revue d'Ecologie he published innumerable book reviews, which I read as soon as I received the journal. His critical analyses of field guides, as well as technical books, were a pure delight. Interestingly, his three desks at home, at the Faculty of Medicine, and at his Gerontology Institute always were impeccably ordered, as if he did not work there. And yet, he wrote constantly and edited two major journals simultaneously, one in gerontology and the other in ecology. How he did all this remains largely a mystery. He certainly had efficient secretaries, yet much of his correspondence was in his own neat hand writing. Francois Bourlière was an exceptional man, what the French call a "polymathe," a Renaissance man in the best sense of the word. (coedited with M. Lamotte, 1971).