• ornitology;
  • Amazonian refugia;
  • Stresemann Revolution;
  • systematics;
  • Ernst Mayr


The geologist and ornithologist Jürgen Haffer (born 9 December 1932) died in his hometown Essen on 26 April 2010, a loss for ornithology in Germany and world-wide as well as for systematics and the history of science. Innovative and original as he was as a scientist (albeit he never held any professional position in academia, but was instead an exploration geologist, in particular working in South America), Haffer left us with impressive accomplishments and important publications, most notable those on geographical variation and speciation of birds in Amazonia. His life and his intellectual achievements are briefly discussed in the present obituary, reflecting on his outstanding contributions. Among those are most eminently his biographical accounts on the or nithologists of the “Berlin School ” of the so-called “new systematics ”, viz. Erwin Stresemann, Bernhard Rensch and also Ernst Mayr. Haffer, as a rare quality, combined in one person empirical and theoretical with historical knowledge of the disciplines involved, with his numerous publications showing an impressively wide range of thought, as he was equally interested in birds as biological organisms as well as the process of science to shape our understanding of the natural world around us (© 2011 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim)