Professor Edward Wilson ForMemRS

Edward Wilson was a biologist and the founder of sociobiology, the study of the genetic basis of social behaviour in animals, including humans. He was the world's leading authority on ants, particularly focusing on the interactions that take place between members of the same species.

Edward discovered that ants communicate through pheromones, with innate behaviours being triggered by these chemical signals. In his theories of sociobiology, Edward proposed that the biological principles of animal societies also apply to humans, although he believed that only ten per cent of human behaviour is genetically induced, the rest being due to environment and past experiences.

He also studied species extinction and its relationship to modern human societies, calling for the preservation of biodiversity. Edward played a key role in establishing the Encyclopedia of Life, a project that aims to create a web page for every species on Earth. He was awarded the US National Medal of Science and was a two-time recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction.

Professor Edward Wilson ForMemRS died on 26 December 2021.

Subject groups

  • Organismal biology, evolution and ecology

    Organismal biology (including invertebrate and vertebrate zoology), Environmental biology, Ecology (incl behavioural ecology)


  • Crafoord Prize

    In the field of biosciences for theory of island biogeography.

  • International Cosmos Prize

    No citation available for this award.

  • King Faisal International Prize

    In the field of biology.

Professor Edward Wilson ForMemRS
Elected 1990