Founding Editor of the Journal Evolution

Again, Ernst Mayr was willing to contribute his share in the administration of the new evolution society and to take over the job of founding editor of its journal Evolution. He implemented the plan that he and his collaborators Dobzhansky, Simpson, Huxley, Emerson, and others developed. He had gathered initial experience in editing and publishing the Proceedings and Transactions of the Linnaean

Society of New York (see p. 110). His proposals for the title of the journal and for the editorial policy were approved without objection. In late 1946 the funding of the journal Evolution had been secured and the first manuscripts were in hand. Mayr fully realized the opportunities for reform and recommended that all papers should deal with evolutionary factors and forces, i.e., with the process of evolution. A logistic problem ensued, when many printers had no spare capacities, as they worked through large wartime backlogs. Eventually Lancaster Press (in Lancaster, Pennsylvania) was able to accommodate Mayr's schedule. The first double issue of Evolution (vol. 1, numbers 1-2) was distributed to 746 subscribers in July 1947.

The new Evolution Society, Mayr wrote to Stresemann, "is a joint affair of geneticists, taxonomists, and paleontologists, somewhat equivalent to the circle that Timoféeff-Ressovsky had gathered [in Germany during the 1930s and early 1940s]. Huxley, Dobzhansky, and myself are the prime movers of this new venture. The taxonomists and naturalists of this country, as well as of England, are beginning to realize that they can contribute a great deal to the study of evolution, and we are trying to focus these efforts and break down the borderlines between these fields" (24 January 1946) and "It is important to emphasize the evolutionary angle as a counterbalance against the assertions of the physicists and chemists who see nothing in this particular branch of research. Science in this country is literally swimming in money but it has to be atomic science or medical research, otherwise no money at all is available. People like Dobzhansky, Simpson, and myself try to counteract this trend but it is very difficult" (25 January 1949).

For his 3-year term Mayr solicited manuscripts on specific topics to balance the coverage of various fields and corresponded with the authors. He took his job very seriously making numerous suggestions on the contents and presentation of nearly every manuscript, and provided additional references to the literature. As a systematist, he also envisioned the journal as an outlet for publications on the evolutionary byproducts of "museum men," i.e., morphologists, biogeographers and ecologists, whether neontologists or paleontologists, zoologists or botanists. He continuously attempted to balance such topics against the prevalence of ge-netical articles on Drosophila, with partial success only because not all promised contributions from the fields of anthropology, paleontology, botany, and taxonomy were submitted despite Mayr's active solicitations.

"I find it difficult to get a stock of good manuscript every three months. The forthcoming issue has two or three rather weak contributions in it, but the June issue again will have some excellent papers. However, like every good editor, I must do an almost incredible amount of letter writing to get contributions from the right kind of people. The promises I now have are sufficient to fill two full volumes, but unfortunately one can't print a journal with promises. My manuscript drawer is empty each time an issue goes to press. This means that I have to do some rather hectic editing of the last-minute manuscripts before they go to the printer" (to Stresemann on March 9,1948).

As mentioned above, Mayr also intended to bring the systematists into the community of evolution workers. Discussions of evolutionary topics by systematists, if published at all, were often buried in the introductions of taxonomic revisions or even in the species accounts of faunal papers and thus inaccessible to workers outside their specialty. However, in the field of evolutionary systematics Mayr had also considerable difficulties to obtain suitable manuscripts and set out to recruit selected manuscripts himself with partial success. He wanted discussions of general biological aspects of systematics, explanation and analysis of evolution as illustrated in particular groups of animals or plants. However, he was unwilling to risk the journal's reputation and rejected papers which supported processes like orthogenesis or macromutation that could not be justified by current genetic knowledge. He did confess though (1997g) that he published in the first 2 years several papers that he would not have accepted if he would have had a larger supply of manuscripts. In 1949, Mayr introduced a new feature, a set of critical "Comments on recent evolutionary literature," and continued publishing such reviews until 1952, when the eighth installment in this series appeared. It included a total of 163 of his reviews of papers ranging from paleontology and ornithology to genetics and behavior. His principal objective was to counteract the narrowness of many evolutionists and to make known to American readers papers from the international literature.

Although asked to serve another term as editor, Mayr stepped down in 1949. His health had suffered while preparing the "Biology of Birds" exhibition (see p. 129 and 302). His successor as editor was the paleontologist E. Colbert. Mayr was elected president of the evolution society. In subsequent years, he took his reform efforts to the Society of Systematic Zoology (resulting in a sharp increase in the number of papers devoted to evolutionary systematics that appeared in its journal Systematic Zoology; Hull 1988; Cain 2000b: 257), to Harvard's MCZ, to the National Academy of Sciences and to the National Science Foundation (see below).

Mayr summarized his activities during the late 1940s in a letter to W. Meise in Berlin:

"You are quite correct when you say that I seem to be leading a busy life. My main job is, of course, the curating of our collections and the daily correspondence. Most time-consuming, however, is perhaps the editing of 'Evolution' and the enormous correspondence connected with that job. During the last year I have also helped in editing a volume of a symposium on evolution [Jepsen et al. 1949]. For a time there was a great deal of correspondence with several European ornithologists about literature and reprints. It took a lot of my time even though Gretel handled most of the work. In addition, there are always two or three volunteers working in the Department who require much of my time. Last spring I taught at the University of Minnesota and next spring I plan to teach at Columbia University. Fortunately I have a very good secretary who takes care of most of my routine matters. Also, I have a Dictaphone and can dictate my correspondence in the evenings so that I can devote myself to museum matters when I am in the museum. My correspondence is really quite enormous. The other day, after a three-day absence from the museum, I found no less than fifty-three pieces of mail on my desk. The unfortunate result is that I don't have nearly as much time for ornithological research as I would like.

Also, I ought to revise my Systematics and the Origin of Species and that also is not proceeding too rapidly. Years ago I signed a contract to write a biology of birds and that also is not making any progress. I just thought that you might be interested to collaborate with me on that job and I could translate your part into English. What do you think about this plan?" (17 November 1949; see p. 129).

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