De l'influence des agents physiques sur la vie. William F. Edwards.

De l'influence des agents physiques sur la vie.

Publisher Information: Paris: Crochard, 1824. 1st edition. Pioneer Work on Animal Ecology Book Id: 2046

EDWARDS, William F. (1776-1842). De líinfluence des agents physiques sur la vie. 8vo. xvi, 1 leaf, 654 pp., errata leaf. One folding lithographed plate containing multiple figures. Contemporary tree calf, gilt spine with red morocco label. Lower cover rubbed but a fine copy. Paris: Crochard, 1824.

FIRST EDITION. Garrison-Morton 1991. Born in Jamaica, the son of a wealthy English planter, Edwards moved with his family to Bruges where he completed his medical training at the age of 34. He then worked with the celebrated physiologist Magendie who in his Precis Èlementaire de physiologie (1816-17) acknowledged Edwardsí constant assistance in his experiments and in the preparation of the book.

Edwards became interested in the influence of environmental factors on animal life and published the results of his researches in the above book, which is a pioneer work in the history of animal ecology.

"His main idea was that vital processes depend on external physical and chemical forces but are not entirely controlled by them. Life is different from heat, light, or electricity, forces which, however, contribute to the production of vital phenomena. Edwards systematically examined all principal functions, mostly of vertebrate species; and by varying the external conditions, he determined the nature and degree of their modification. Among the phenomena studied were the minimum and maximum temperatures compatible with life; heat production in young and adult animals; resistance of young animals to cold and to lack of oxygen; the importance of humidity, pressure, and movement of air in the loss of heat by transpiration; the role of light in the development of batrachians; and expiration of carbon dioxide by animals deprived of oxygen. Important was his finding that some warm-blooded animals (carnivores, rodents, some birds) are born less developed and have a much smaller capacity for heat production than those not born helpless" (DSB).


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