E.O. Wilson, a Pioneer of Evolutionary Biology, Dies at 92

Edward O. Wilson won two Pulitzer Prizes for his work on insects and human nature. He died at the age of 92.

His death was announced by the foundation. There was no cause of death given.

Catherine was his daughter. He is survived by his wife, and two children.

Paula J. Ehrlich is the president of the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation and a co-founder of the Half-Earth Project. His scientific focus and poetic voice transformed our way of understanding ourselves and our planet.

The study of animals and plants seemed to many scientists like a quaint hobby when Dr. Wilson began his career in evolutionary biology. The invisible foundations of life were being glimpsed by biologists. Dr. Wilson worked to put evolution on an equal footing.

How could our seemingly old-fashioned subjects achieve new intellectual rigor compared to the modern world? In 2009, Dr. Wilson recalled. He answered his own question with new fields of research.

As an expert on insects, Dr. Wilson studied how natural selection and other forces could produce something as complex as an ant colony. This kind of research was championed by him as a way of making sense of all behavior.

As part of his campaign, Dr. Wilson wrote a number of books that influenced his fellow scientists while also gaining a broad public audience. The Pulitzer Prizes for general nonfiction were won by "On Human Nature" in 1979 and "The ants" in 1991.

Dr. Wilson was a pioneer in the study of biological diversity, developing a mathematical approach to questions about why different places have different numbers of species. Dr. Wilson was one of the leading voices for the protection of wildlife.

They hid a fierce determination because Dr. Wilson was famous for his shy demeanor and gentle Southern charm. He admitted that he was aroused by the amphetamine of ambition.

He earned a lot of critics for those ambitions. They condemned the simplistic accounts of human nature. He was attacked by other evolutionary biologists for reversing his views on natural selection.

His legacy is still profound even though it may be complicated. Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, a former student of Dr. Wilson, said that he was a visionary on multiple fronts.

Taylor contributed reporting.