September 14th 2019 will mark 250 years since the birth of Alexander von Humboldt, a pioneering explorer-naturalist who changed the way we think about the natural world. Inspired by his holistic view of the interconnectedness of natural systems, we have compiled a collection of articles from across six Nature journals, and an Editorial outlining what we can still learn from his travels in Latin America with his friend and botanist Aimé Bonpland.
Humboldt was arguably the first person to sound the alarm on the dangers of human-induced climate change and land use to biodiversity, and as the scale of destruction in the Amazon and elsewhere becomes increasing apparent, it is clear that there is still much to do to continue his legacy.
In this light, we’d love to know how his influence has extended into modern ecology and evolution, and so here we also collate viewpoints from researchers all over the world who have been inspired or influenced by his work. We invite anyone who would like to contribute to please get in contact and sign up to our community pages if you’d like to have your say—we particularly encourage contributions from Latin America, where so many of his ideas were first forged.
Some celebrations have already been underway, for example in the International Biogeography Society’s Special Humboldt anniversary meeting held in Ecuador last month, and special events are planned in his hometown of Berlin, and elsewhere across the world. We look forward to joining in with them!
Alison Abbott applauds an illustrated treatment of the great Prussian naturalist’s scientific exploits in South America.