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An informational catalog, or several catalogs, about Biology.

WP import, not part of approved main page! List of important publications in biology



Gray's Anatomy

Description: Henry Gray's Anatomy of the Human Body, commonly known as Gray's Anatomy, is an anatomy textbook widely regarded as a classic work on human anatomy. The book was first published under the title Gray's Anatomy: Descriptive and Surgical in the United Kingdom in 1858, and the following year in the United States. The book's British author died after the publication of the 1860 second edition, at the age of 34, but his much-praised book was continued by others and on November 24, 2004, the 39th British edition was released.

Importance: Influence

Atlas of Human Anatomy by Frank Netter

Frank Netter (Frank H. Netter)

Most recent edition: 4th ed (2006). This atlas is preferred by many medical schools. (citation needed)


Species Plantarum

Description : a two-volume work, going through many editions (ever expanding), listing all plants then known, made accessible by an ordering in (artificial) classes and orders, and giving every listed species a two-part name (binomial nomenclature or binary name). With this book anyone, by counting the male and female parts present in a flower, could find a listing of the genera the plant in question belongs to. This is the prime starting point of botanical nomenclature. It was also the starting point of a great upsurge in the popularity of science. It is arguably the most important publication in biology ever. Without Linnaeus there would have been no Darwin.

Importance : Topic creator, breakthrough, influence

Variation and Evolution in Plants

Description: a single volume on the role of genetics in plant evolution, the first comprehensive synthesis on the topic and a part of the canon of works of the modern evolutionary synthesis.

Cell biology

Molecular Biology of the Cell

  • Alberts, Bruce; Johnson, Alexander; Lewis, Julian; Raff, Martin; Roberts, Keith; Walter, Peter
  • New York, Garland Publishing
  • 1983-2002

Description: This is a must-have introduction to cell biology, suitable for both undergraduates as well as graduate students. The book covers a wide range of concepts, from the internal organization of cells and molecular genetics to cellular functions in the larger context of the organism. For beginners it serves as an excellent introduction to the field of cell and molecular biology. Graduate students and post-graduates may use this book for refreshing their memory on basic biological principles. Online version.

Importance: Introduction.

Neuronal Correlates of Attention and Memory

Lebedev, M.A., Messinger, A., Kralik, J.D., Wise, S.P. (2004) Representation of attended versus remembered locations in prefrontal cortex. PLoS Biology, 2: 1919-1935.

Description: Importance:

Developmental biology

Genomic Regulatory Systems: Development and Evolution

  • E. H. Davidson
  • Genomic Regulatory Systems: Development and Evolution (Academic Press, San Diego, CA, 2001).

Description An important work based on a lifetime of solid research in developmental biology. The book is unique because it attempts to give a semi-formal theory of regulatory networks as the basis of developmental biology.

Importance: Impact

Systems Developmental Biology

  • G. Forgacs and S. A. Newman

Biological Physics of the Developing Embryo (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 2005).

Description The first book to present an account of the full scope of embryonic development of vertebrate and invertebrate organisms on the basis of modern condensed matter physics and dynamical systems theory. It includes a chapter on the evolution of developmental mechanisms.

Multicellular Systems Biology

  • E. Werner

In silico multicellular systems biology and minimal genomes, Drug Discovery Today. 2003 Dec 15;8(24):1121-7.

Description An alternative approach to dynamical systems theory. Describes a new paradigm for understanding genomes in the development of organisms.


Competitive exclusion

Description: In this book Gause establishes his competitive exclusion principle through experiments involving paramecium. The principle holds that no two species can co-exist for long if they have to compete for highly similar resources. The end result is always the extinction of the less fit species.

Importance: Topic creator, breakthrough.

Description: Hutchinson's 1959 paper went a long way to understanding community assembly in ecosystems, in addition to solving an apparent violation of competitive exclusion. His studies of Corixidae led to the discovery of 1:1.3 Hutchinson ratio that is ubiquitous in all community systems involving the co-existence of two niche-similar predatorial species. The size ratio difference is what permits their co-existence despite the degree of niche-overlap, and formed the basis for the limiting similarity theory, one of the most important contributions to community ecology to date.

Importance: Breakthrough.

Ecological niche

  • Joseph Grinnell
  • Grinnell, J. (1917). "The Niche relationship of the California Thrasher", Auk, 34, 427-433.

Description: This is the paper in which the concept of the ecological niche was first developed. Although Joseph Grinnell viewed the species habitat as being analogous to its niche, which is not how niches are perceived today, it still represented a significant contribution, as it made his contemporary ecologists begin to thi in a way that laid the foundations for modern-day ecology.

Importance: Topic creator, impact.

  • G. Evelyn Hutchinson
  • Hutchinson, G. E. (1957). "Concluding remarks, Cold Spring Harbor Symposium." Quant. Biol, 22, 415-427.

Description: In Hutchinson's 1957 address, for the first time in ecology, a strongly quantitative method for understanding the relationship between a species, its ecosystem and the environment at large is developed. Even if today Hutchinson's niche concept (or even the relevance of niches to ecology in general) is disputed, he fundamentaly changed the orientation of ecology away from a qualitative science towards a strongly quantitative one. Hutchinson is therefore considered by many as the father of modern ecology.

Importance: Breakthrough.

Evolutionary biology

Histoire Naturelle

Description: Until the publication of this encyclopedia the scientific community thought that all animals were created together by God about 6,000 years before. Not only did this 44-volume encyclopedia contain all biological knowledge of its time, it offered different theory. 100 years before Darwin, Buffon claimed that man and ape might have a common ancestor. His work also had significant impact on ecology.

Importance: Topic creator, breakthrough, impact.

On The Tendency of Varieties to Depart Indefinitely from the Original Type

Description: This publication suggested natural selection as the cause of evolution. Wallace was afraid to publish his work due to the church but he sent it to Charles Darwin and help him develop what is somewhat mistakenly called today Darwinism.

Importance: Topic creator, breakthrough, impact.

The Origin of Species

Description: The Origin of Species is one of the hallmark works of biology. In it, Darwin details his theory that organisms gradually evolve through natural selection. It was first published on November 24, 1859 and immediately sold out its initial print run.

Darwin presents a theory of evolution that is in most aspects identical to the theories now accepted by scientists. He carefully argues out this theory of evolution of species by natural selection by presenting all the accumulated scientific evidence from his voyage on the HMS Beagle in the 1830s.

Importance: Topic creator, breakthrough, impact.

The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection

Description: This book discusses Fisher's fundamental theorem of natural selection.

Importance: Impact

Evolutionary developmental biology

The Evolution of Individuality

  • Leo W. Buss
  • 1987, The Evolution of Individuality, Princeton University Press.

Description: In this book, which examines the cell lineage as a unit of selection, Leo Buss addresses the evolutionary conflict between the individuality of cells that make up a metazoan and the metazoan individual itself. In elaborating this idea he presents numerous hypotheses regarding the evolution of animal development and life cycles. He wraps it up by addressing hierarchical organization in biology. It is one of the first texts addressing the idea of the individual in biology, integrating multilevel selection theory (from the macroevolutionists and gene selectionists) with developmental and cell biology. Though heavy on the theory and rather light on the evidence, for anyone interested in evo-devo or macroevolution this should be an essential read.

Importance: Topic creator, influence

Ontogeny and Phylogeny

Description: Critically revisits Haeckel's idea that "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny." Gould presents heterochrony as a concept that allows us to describe the majority of developmental processes in evolution. This book played a significant role at the time by bringing the evolutionary biology community back to examine developmental biology, ignored for many years.

Importance: Influence


Experiments on Plant Hybridization

Description: Experiments on Plant Hybridization was the result of years spent studying genetic traits in pea plants. In his paper, Mendel compared seven discrete traits. Through experimentation, Mendel discovered that one inheritable trait would invariably be dominant to its recessive alternative. This model, later known as Mendelian inheritance or Mendelian genetics, provided an alternative to blending inheritance, the prevailing theory at the time.

Importance: Topic creator, Breakthrough, Impact

A website offering a downloadable PDF containing English translations of the original papers by H. DeVries, C. Correns, and E Tschermak, respectively, which constitute the rediscovery of Mendel’s work, each originally published in 1900.

  • Note: From the website the link above opens: “The rediscovery of Mendel's Work - The Birth of Genetics - 1950 (PDF). contains the following;
  • Mendel, G. 1950. Gregor Mendel's Letters to Carl Nägeli (1866-1873). Genetics 35:1-29.
  • De Vries, H. 1950 (Original 1900). Concerning the law of segregation of hybrids. Genetics 35:30-32.
  • Correns, C. 1950 (original 1900). G. Mendel's law concerning the behavior of progeny of varietal hybrids. Genetics 35:33-41.
  • Tschermak, E. 1950 (original 1900). Concerning artificial crossing in Pisum sativum. Genetics 35:42-47."


Forel, F.-A. 1892-1902. Le Léman, monegraphie limnologique. Editions Rouges & Cie, Lausanne, Translation D. A.

Molecular biology

DNA Sequencing with Chain-Terminating Inhibitors

Description: The basis of the DNA sequencing technique. (Sanger won his second Nobel prize thanks to it.)

Importance: Breakthrough, Impact

Molecular Cloning : A Laboratory Manual

Description: The manual (often called simply Maniatis) is universally recognized as the best manual for molecular biology techniques. The theory behind the techniques is also discussed in detail. It is cited by thousands of publications.

Importance: Impact


History of Insects

Description: This book tries to cover the whole extent of the history of the insects in time and space.


Phylogenetic Systematics

Description: This book popularized the techniques of cladistics in the English-speaking world. It is based on work published in German starting in 1950. Willi Hennig is considered the founder of cladistics, which he developed while working as an entomologist in East Germany.


Inferring Phylogenies

Description: An excellent technical manual to guide any biologist wishing to construct a phylogenetic hypothesis.

Importance: Possibly the most complete and authoritative work published on phylogenetics to date.

Phylogenetic Inferencing: Beyond Biology

  • Edited by Indra Neil Sarkar
  • Journal of Biomedical Informatics, 2006; Volume 39, Issue 1.

Description: A special journal issue dedicated almost entirely to review articles about contemporary phylogenetic methods.


  • Charles Sempel and Mike Steel
  • Oxford Lecture Series in Mathematics and Its Applications, 2003

Description: Intended for biologists interested in the mathematical theory behind phylogenetic methods, and for mathematicians, statisticians, and computer scientists eager to learn about this emerging area of discrete mathematics.

Importance: A useful monograph on the mathematics of phylogenetic methods.


Sociobiology: The New Synthesis

Description: Wilson introduced the term "sociobiology" as an attempt to explain the evolutionary mechanics behind social behaviors such as altruism, aggression, and nurturance. Wilson's book sparked one of the great scientific controversies in biology of the 20th century.


Origin of life

Life on a Young Planet: The First Three Billion Years of Evolution on Earth

Description: A very readable yet complete introduction to the early evolution of life.

Importance: Introduction.

Systems biology

The Future and Limits of Systems Biology

  • Werner, E.
  • Science STKE, 2005, pe16 This citation should be changed because it requires a subscription for access.
  • Online version.

Description: A short critical review of key issues in systems biology.


The Meaning of Systems Biology

  • Marc W. Kirschner
  • Cell, Vol. 121, 503–504, May 20, 2005

Description: A brief justification for systems biology.



Systema Naturae

Description: The starting point of zoological nomenclature, and the binomen. Follows the similar starting point for plants in 1753.

Importance: Impact


History of Animals

Description: A work in which Aristotle describes the anatomy of organisms, with a particular emphasis on morphology. Consists of ten books of facts and descriptions. Many claim the book seems unscientific by today's standards.

Importance: Topic creator, Impact

Naturalis Historia

Description: Encyclopedia of nature. It included many areas that are not considered to be part of the nature sciences today - from geography, botany, and zoology to painting. The encyclopedia was also novel with respect to structure. It was to first book to use references, a table of contents and tables of animals characteristics.

Importance: Impact

The Natural History of Selborne

Description: In these letters, White published his observations on birds near his house.

Importance: Impact

Souvenirs entomologiques

Description: Fabre investigated insects, both at the anatomical and the behavioral level.

Importance: Impact

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