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Linné on line arrow The History of Ideas arrow Linnaeus as a zoologist arrow Linnaeus’ zoological treatises

Linnaeus’ zoological treatises

Of the 186 treatises with Linnaeus as preses, some 30 can be called zoological. Here is a list of some of the most important ones:

De Necessitate Peregrinationum Intra Patriam 1741 (On the Importance of Traveling in One’s Own Country).
Here Linnaeus stresses the economic utility that can result from a mapping of nature in Sweden. But it was not only nature that it was important to study. Local diseases and their cures, new useful plants, and various agricultural methods should also be noted.

The small sketches that illustrate this text were done by Linnaeus himself during his journey to Lapland in 1732.
From Iter Lapponicum 1732 (Uppsala 1913)

Curiositas Naturalis 1748. Deals with the role of humans in Creation and how the Book of Genesis should be read. Linnaeus maintained that the study of nature automatically leads to a knowledge of God and that natural history is therefore one of the most essential subjects to study.

Oeconomia Naturae 1749 (Husbandry of Nature) and Politia Naturae 1760 (Polity of Nature) both treat subjects close to what we today would call ecology. Among other things, Linnaeus describes how insects and plants are mutually dependent. How everything in nature is connected to everything else and how organisms adapt to their environment.

Noxa Insectorum 1752 (Harm Done by Insects). Linnaeus classifies harmful insects by the objects they attack. Insects that harm the human body, insects that harm foodstuffs, farmland, forests, etc. This treatise was of great value in the development of practical entomology.

Cui Bono 1753 (To What Good?). Here he proposes, among other things, that in combatting harmful insects, use should be made of their natural enemies. This method, today called ‘biological control,’ has become ever more important apace with the ambition to eliminate chemical pesticides.

Instructo Musei Rerum Naturalium 1753 (Instructions for Specimen Cabinets) provides instructions for setting up a specimen cabinet. What objects should be collected and how they should be preserved and displayed in the museum. Also contains an inventory of the most important collections in Sweden in Linnaeus’ day.

Migrationes Avium 1757 (On the Migration of Birds). See Linnaeus as an ornithologist

Instructio Peregrinatoris 1759 (Instructions for Travelers) is a general guide for young naturalists traveling abroad. How they should behave and above all how important it is to take careful notes daily.  

 

Generatio Ambigena 1759 addresses the problem of ‘abiogenesis,’ that is, the notion that organisms can emerge and multiply all by themselves, by ‘spontaneous generation.’ Linnaeus rejects this thinking. He also puts forward a theory that all species within a family may originate from a primeval species that then gave rise to all the other species in the family by hybridization.

Fundamenta Ornithologica 1765 (Foundations of Ornithology). See Linnaeus as an ornithologist.

Usus Historiae Naturalis in Vita Communi 1766 (The Utility of Natural History in the General Economy). The benefits of natural history for agriculture, horticulture, and animal husbandry are presented. Much good advice is also given for the control of harmful insects.


 

Fundamenta Entomologica 1767 (Foundations of Entomology) has been of great significance in entomology. Linnaeus brings order to the chaos that prevailed in the naming and classification of insects. He also provides a very thorough description of the bodily structure of insects, with special terms for the various parts.

Fundamenta Testaceologiae 1771 (Foundations of the Study of Mollusks) treats the animals we now call mollusks and mussels, etc.

Literature:
Broberg, Gunnar, Carl von Linné: Om jämvikten i naturen (Stockholm, 1978).

Lönnberg, Einar & Aurivillius, Christopher, ”Carl von Linné såsom zoolog” i Carl von Linnés betydelse såsom naturforskare och läkare (Uppsala, 1907).

Smit, P., ”The zoological dissertations of Linnaeus”, Svenska Linnésällskapets Årsskrift 1978.