Art Hasler (1908-2001)
Arthur Hasler played a major role in the development of aquatic ecology. His work is inspirational to me and many others. He was a practical minded man who knew that theoretical musing about ecology wasn’t enough. One ought to be both willing to engage in bold experiments and open to the idea that for work in science to be truly valuable it needs a practical and useful outcome.
“Many people who work on ecological problems today remain awed by the insightfulness of Hasler’s research,” says John Magnuson. “He was a big thinker and had grand ideas. He believed you were not done in research until you dealt with its applications in society.”
His most famous research began in the late 1940s, when he demonstrated that “olfactory imprinting,” enabled salmon to journey thousands of miles to spawn in the stream of their birth. The idea occurred to Hasler when he visited a mountain stream near his hometown in Utah, and was struck by how the smells of native plants seemed to rekindle childhood memories. That salmon smell their way back to the gravel beds they hatched in is now very well accepted.
Hasler, pioneered a new way to study ecological problems using experimental manipulations of entire lake ecosystems. He recognized that lakes were too complex to be studied piecemeal in a laboratory setting. His most famous “whole lake experiment” was at Peter and Paul Lake in the 1950s. Subsequently, his students founded research centers with this model in the U.S. and Canada. Whole-ecosystem experiments are used widely in lakes, streams, forests and oceans.
Hasler served as an advisor to 52 doctoral students and authored more than 200 publications and seven books. He was a past president of the American Society for Limnology and Oceanography, the American Society of Zoologists and the Ecological Society of America. He was a founder and first director of the Institute for Ecology. He was a 1969 inductee to the National Academy of Sciences and a 1972 inductee to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and holds many lifetime service and achievement awards, both national and international.
I rather think he might have looked kindly on my own ecosystem scale experiments and efforts.