ISSN 1063-0740, Russian Journal of Marine Biology, 2006, Vol. 32, No. 2, pp. 137–139. © Pleiades Publishing, Inc., 2006.
Original Russian Text © A.I. Kafanov, 2006, published in Biologiya Morya.
May 31, 2006, marks the 130th anniversary of an
outstanding Swedish biogeographer, zoologist, and
limnologist, Sven Petrus Ekman. Although Ekman pro-
vided a signiﬁcant contribution to many branches of
biogeography, only a few papers dealt with the analysis
of his creative heritage [5, 21] and none of these papers
were published in Russian. In my opinion, this occasion
deserves attention as a reason to characterize brieﬂy the
major biogeographical concepts of this scientist.
Ekman lived his entire life in Uppsala. In 1895, he
graduated from the university there; in 1904, he earned
a Ph. D. degree; during the years 1904–1909, he
worked as an Associate Professor; in 1927 he became a
Professor in zoology; and, in 1964, he died, also in
As a zoologist, Ekman primarily specialized in stud-
ies of freshwater and brackish water crustaceans (Cla-
docera, free-living Copepoda, and Phyllopoda),
although marine biologists throughout the world know
him, ﬁrst of all, as the author of “Tiergeographie des
Meeres” (“Marine Zoogeography”), which was the ﬁrst
systematic treatise on historical marine biogeography.
Better known is the English edition of this book .
On the title page, it is noted that Elizabeth Palmer made
the translation from Swedish, implying, therefore, the
existence of a preceding Swedish edition. However,
this is not true. The ﬁrst edition of the book was pub-
lished in 1935 in German , whereas the English edi-
tion of 1953 was the second, supplemented and cor-
rected authorized edition, the manuscript of which was
submitted to the Editorial Board in London in Swedish.
Briggs (, p. 4) pointed out that the edition of 1953
provided almost nothing new compared with the publi-
cation of 1935. This is deﬁnitely not true, if one checks,
for instance, the signiﬁcantly supplemented list of ref-
erences. Ekman is also known as the editor of the
Swedish edition of the extremely popular “Brehms Thi-
erleben” (“Brehm’s Life of Animals”) by Alfred
In discussing the biogeographical concepts of
Ekman, one should keep in mind that he followed an
absolutely faulty idea about the possibility of polytopic
(“parallel”) speciation as the result of similar changes
in the environment . In particular, the scientist was
HISTORY OF SCIENCE
Sven Ekman: On the 130th Anniversary of His Birth
A. I. Kafanov
Institute of Marine Biology, Far East Division, Russian Academy of Sciences, 690041 Vladivostok, Russia
Received November 18, 2005
—This paper provides a brief review of the biogeographic concepts of the renowned Swedish bio-
geographer, zoologist, and limnologist Sven Petrus Ekman (1876–1964). He was the author of the ﬁrst system-
atized treatise on historical marine biogeography (Ekman, 1935, 1953), in which he formulated the concept of
the relict nature of contemporary tropical biotas derived from the Paleogene biota of the Tethys. Ekman (1915,
1920, 1935) proposed a biogeographic deﬁnition of the term “relict”:
a species (or genus, etc.) is relic to a
region if it is isolated here from the main center of distribution and if its presence can only be explained by the
fact that either it or its ancestral form were left behind under different environmental conditions than at present.