Tropical Biology and Research Institutions in South and Southeast Asia since 1500: Botanic Gardens and Scientific Organizations to 1870

Frodin, David G.
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University of Hawaii Press
Tropical biological stations have become in the last half-century a well-established phenomenon. They are, however, but a modem manifestation of a long tradition of institutionalized study of tropical biological diversity, an approach gradually adopted by Europeans as one response to the needs and challenges of a new environment. This paper describes the growth of early institutions in South and Southeast Asia (and Mauritius), particularly botanic gardens, learned societies, and scientific surveys, and examines their relative successes and failures in relation to their geographical and political circumstances. The interaction among the Dutch, French, and British spheres is examined in relation to the appearance of new ideas. It is concluded that although all these powers were from time to time innovative, the British and Dutch, though in different ways, became the most successful in their lasting influence on pure and applied tropical science. The British network, internally strong and effectively worldwide by the nineteenth century, was notable for its breadth but featured less autonomy for individual units; the Dutch, fortunately situated in Indonesia and heir to an autonomous biological tradition, established in Bogor the beginnings of what became after 1870 a major biological (and, indeed, academic) center.
Frodin DG. 1998. Tropical biology and research institutions in South and Southeast Asia since 1500: botanic gardens and scientific organizations to 1870. Pac Sci 52(4): 276-286.
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