Willi Hennig

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Willi Hennig_table_infobox_0

Willi HennigWilli Hennig_header_cell_0_0_0
BornWilli Hennig_header_cell_0_1_0 Emil Hans Willi Hennig

(1913-04-20)20 April 1913 Dürrhennersdorf, GermanyWilli Hennig_cell_0_1_1

DiedWilli Hennig_header_cell_0_2_0 5 November 1976(1976-11-05) (aged 63)

Ludwigsburg, GermanyWilli Hennig_cell_0_2_1

NationalityWilli Hennig_header_cell_0_3_0 GermanWilli Hennig_cell_0_3_1
Known forWilli Hennig_header_cell_0_4_0 CladisticsWilli Hennig_cell_0_4_1
AwardsWilli Hennig_header_cell_0_5_0 Linnean Medal (1974)Willi Hennig_cell_0_5_1
FieldsWilli Hennig_header_cell_0_6_0 Taxonomy, EntomologyWilli Hennig_cell_0_6_1

Emil Hans Willi Hennig (April 20, 1913 – November 5, 1976) was a German biologist who is considered the founder of phylogenetic systematics, also known as cladistics. Willi Hennig_sentence_0

In 1945 as a prisoner of war, Hennig began work on his theory of cladistics, which he published in German in 1950, with a substantially revised English translation published in 1966. Willi Hennig_sentence_1

With his works on evolution and systematics he revolutionised the view of the natural order of beings. Willi Hennig_sentence_2

As a taxonomist, he specialised in dipterans (true flies). Willi Hennig_sentence_3

Hennig coined the key terms synapomorphy, symplesiomorphy and paraphyly. Willi Hennig_sentence_4

He also asserted, in his "auxiliary principle", that "the presence of apomorphous characters in different species 'is always reason for suspecting kinship [i.e., that species belong to a monophyletic group], and that their origin by convergence should not be presumed a priori' (Hennig, 1953). Willi Hennig_sentence_5

This was based on the conviction that 'phylogenetic systematics would lose all ground on which it stands' if the presence of apomorphous characters in different species were considered first of all as convergences (or parallelisms), with proof to the contrary required in each case." Willi Hennig_sentence_6

This has been viewed as an application of the parsimony principle to the interpretation of characters, an important component of phylogenetic inference . Willi Hennig_sentence_7

He is also remembered for Hennig's progression rule in cladistics, which argues controversially that the most primitive species are found in the earliest, central part of a group's area. Willi Hennig_sentence_8

Biography Willi Hennig_section_0

Early years and studies Willi Hennig_section_1

Hennig was born in Dürrhennersdorf, Upper Lusatia. Willi Hennig_sentence_9

His mother Marie Emma, née Groß, worked as a maid and, later, factory worker. Willi Hennig_sentence_10

His father Karl Ernst Emil Hennig was a rail worker. Willi Hennig_sentence_11

Willi had two brothers, Fritz Rudolf Hennig, who became a minister, and Karl Herbert, who went missing at the Battle of Stalingrad in 1943. Willi Hennig_sentence_12

In the spring of 1919, Willi Hennig started school in Dürrhennersdorf, and subsequently was at school in Taubenheim an der Spree and Oppach. Willi Hennig_sentence_13

Rudolf Hennig described the family as calm; his father possessed an even temperament. Willi Hennig_sentence_14

As of 1927, Willi Hennig continued his education at the Realgymnasium and boarding school in Klotzsche near Dresden. Willi Hennig_sentence_15

Here he met his first mentor M. Rost, a science teacher, whom he lived with in a house known as the "Abteilung". Willi Hennig_sentence_16

Rost had an interest in insects and introduced Hennig to Wilhelm Meise, who worked as a scientist at the Dresdener Museum für Tierkunde (State Museum of Zoology, Dresden). Willi Hennig_sentence_17

In 1930, Hennig skipped a year, and graduated on February 26, 1932. Willi Hennig_sentence_18

As early as 1931, Willi Hennig composed an essay entitled Die Stellung der Systematik in der Zoologie ("The state of systematics in zoology") as part of his school work, published posthumously in 1978. Willi Hennig_sentence_19

It showed his interest as well as his deliberate treatment of systematic problems. Willi Hennig_sentence_20

Besides school, Hennig worked as a volunteer at the museum and, in collaboration with Meise, saw to the systematic and biogeographical investigation of the "flying" snakes of the genus Dendrophis that became his first published work. Willi Hennig_sentence_21

From the summer semester of 1932 onwards, Hennig read zoology, botany and geology at the University of Leipzig. Willi Hennig_sentence_22

He would continue to visit the Museum in Dresden. Willi Hennig_sentence_23

There, he met the curator of the entomological collection, the Dipteran expert Fritz Isidor van Emden. Willi Hennig_sentence_24

Hennig saw him regularly until van Emden was expelled from National Socialist Germany for having a Jewish mother and wife. Willi Hennig_sentence_25

Hennig developed a deep friendship with Emden's successor, Klaus Günther. Willi Hennig_sentence_26

Hennig concluded his studies with a dissertation entitled, Beiträge zur Kenntnis des Kopulationsapparates der cyclorrhaphen Dipteren. Willi Hennig_sentence_27

By this time, Hennig had published eight scientific papers. Willi Hennig_sentence_28

Besides his 300-page revision of the Tylidae (now classed as Micropezidae), there were further papers on Diptera and the agamid genus Draco of gliding lizards. Willi Hennig_sentence_29

After his studies, Hennig was Volontär at the State Museum for Zoology in Dresden. Willi Hennig_sentence_30

On January 1, 1937, he obtained a scholarship from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) to work at the German Entomological Institute of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft in Berlin-Dahlem. Willi Hennig_sentence_31

On May 13, 1939, Hennig married his former fellow student Irma Wehnert. Willi Hennig_sentence_32

By 1945, they had three sons, Wolfgang (born 1941), Bernd (born 1943) and Gerd (born 1945). Willi Hennig_sentence_33

As a military entomologist Willi Hennig_section_2

Willi Hennig was drafted in 1938 to train for the infantry and concluded this course in 1939. Willi Hennig_sentence_34

As of the start of World War II, he was deployed in the infantry in Poland, France, Denmark and Russia. Willi Hennig_sentence_35

He was injured by grenade shrapnel in 1942 and was subsequently used as entomologist at the Institute for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in Berlin, carrying the rank of a Sonderführer (Z). Willi Hennig_sentence_36

Just before the war ended, he was sent to Italy to the 10th Army, Heeresgruppe C, to fight malaria and other epidemic diseases. Willi Hennig_sentence_37

At the end of the war in May 1945, he was captured by the British while he was with the Malaria training corps at the Gulf of Briest, and was only released in the autumn. Willi Hennig_sentence_38

Through his active participation in war as soldier and scientist Hennig was later subjected to accusations that he had been a member of the National Socialist party, especially by the Italian biologist and founder of panbiogeography, Leon Croizat. Willi Hennig_sentence_39

No evidence has been officially presented to support the claim. Willi Hennig_sentence_40

There is no report of Hennig supporting the National Socialist party views publicly on any occasion. Willi Hennig_sentence_41

Hennig did believe that Nazi Germany would win World War II. Willi Hennig_sentence_42

During his time as prisoner of war, Hennig began to draft his most important contribution to systematics, not published until 1950. Willi Hennig_sentence_43

The rough draft was composed with pencil and ballpoint pen into an A4 exercise book, spanning 170 pages. Willi Hennig_sentence_44

During the war, he also published a further 25 scientific papers. Willi Hennig_sentence_45

Most of the correspondence and literature research was conducted by his wife, Irma. Willi Hennig_sentence_46

1950s: Basic outline of a theory of phylogenetic systematics Willi Hennig_section_3

From December 1, 1945 to March 31, 1947, Willi Hennig stood in for his thesis supervisor Paul Buchner as assistant to Professor Friedrich Hempelmann at the University of Leipzig, giving lectures in general biology, zoology and special zoology of insects. Willi Hennig_sentence_47

He returned to the German Entomological Institute in Berlin on April 1, 1947, and gave up his position in Leipzig. Willi Hennig_sentence_48

From November 1, 1949 he led the section for systematic entomology and was second director of the institute. Willi Hennig_sentence_49

On August 1, 1950, he habilitated in zoology at the Brandenburgische Landeshochschule in Potsdam. Willi Hennig_sentence_50

On October 10 of the same year, he was offered a professorship with teaching responsibilities, which he fulfilled lecturing on special zoology of invertebrates, systematic zoology and taxonomic practicals. Willi Hennig_sentence_51

In the same year, he published his Basic outline of a theory of phylogenetic systematics, and further works on the methodology of phylogenetic systematics followed in the ensuing years, accompanied by numerous taxonomic works about Diptera. Willi Hennig_sentence_52

His two-volume Pocket book of zoology, in which he applied phylogenetic systematics to invertebrates for the first time, was particularly successful. Willi Hennig_sentence_53

He continued working at the German Entomological Institute in the Soviet Sector of Berlin, Berlin-Friedrichshagen, all the while living in the American sector in Berlin-Steglitz. Willi Hennig_sentence_54

On a trip to France with his son on August 13, 1961, he heard of the impending Berlin Wall and returned to Berlin immediately to quit his appointment. Willi Hennig_sentence_55

Moving to East Berlin was out of the question, as Hennig held anti-communist views and already had a troubled relationship with the Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands (Socialist Unity Party of Germany, SED) that was the ruling political party of East Germany, as Hennig had repeatedly helped employees of the institute gain employment in the West. Willi Hennig_sentence_56

1961 to 1976 Willi Hennig_section_4

In West Berlin, Hennig was given an interim post at the Technische Universität Berlin as Distinguished Professor. Willi Hennig_sentence_57

He rejected offers from the U.S. Willi Hennig_sentence_58 Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. and an offer made by his friend Elmo Hardy, to become a Research Fellow at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu, citing as reasons that the education of his sons took priority for him, and that he needed to have the "cultural witnesses of the antique Greek-Roman Europe within ready access". Willi Hennig_sentence_59

He instead decided on a post at the State Museum of Natural History in Stuttgart, where he was given a department for phylogenetic research. Willi Hennig_sentence_60

In April 1963, he moved to Ludwigsburg-Pflugfelden for this position. Willi Hennig_sentence_61

The scientific collections of the museum had been provisorily kept in Ludwigsburg and remained here until their re-housing at the new site of the museum at Stuttgart's Löwentor, in 1985. Willi Hennig_sentence_62

Hennig's works in Stuttgart dealt almost exclusively with taxonomic revisions of Dipterans. Willi Hennig_sentence_63

For the Stuttgarter Beiträge zur Naturkunde, where he published the majority of his works, he completed 29 issues by the end of his life. Willi Hennig_sentence_64

Significant are the review articles published in Erwin Lindner's Flies of the Palaearctic Regions and the Handbuch der Zoologie. Willi Hennig_sentence_65

The cladistic methodology was also represented in several published works, foremost among them the article, Cladistic analysis or cladistic classification? Willi Hennig_sentence_66

A reply to Ernst Mayr (1974), intended as an internationally accessible reply to the criticism Ernst Mayr had made of Hennig's phylogenetic systematics. Willi Hennig_sentence_67

Willi Hennig only visited international institutions abroad twice, in spite of receiving many invitations for guest lectures. Willi Hennig_sentence_68

From September 1 to November 30, 1967, he worked at the Entomology Research Institute at Canada's Department of Agriculture in Ottawa and participated in the International Congress of Entomology in Canberra from August 22 to 30, 1972. Willi Hennig_sentence_69

With his wife, he also visited Bangkok, New Guinea (where much of Mayr's understanding of bird taxonomy originated) and Singapore on this latter trip. Willi Hennig_sentence_70

His stay in Canada was also used for visits to various entomological collections in museums of the US, including Cambridge, Chicago, Washington, D.C. and New York, always in the hope of finding further amber inclusions of Dipterans, that featured prominently in his research of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Willi Hennig_sentence_71

On the initiative of Klaus Günther, who by then held a chair at the Freie Universität Berlin, Hennig was given an honorary doctorate on December 4, 1968; for health reasons, he could not accept this honour in person, and it was presented to him by Günther on March 21, 1969 in Stuttgart. Willi Hennig_sentence_72

On the initiative of students whom he had lectured on several animal taxa, Hennig was made an honorary professor at the University of Tübingen on February 27, 1970. Willi Hennig_sentence_73

On the night of November 5, 1976, Hennig died of a heart attack at Ludwigsburg. Willi Hennig_sentence_74

He had previously repeatedly cancelled lectures with reference to his fading health, and had already had an attack on his journey to Ottawa. Willi Hennig_sentence_75

He was interred on November 10 at the Bergfriedhof in Tübingen. Willi Hennig_sentence_76

The dipteran genus Hennigiola is named after him, as is the Evaniid wasp Hyptia hennigi. Willi Hennig_sentence_77

Legacy Willi Hennig_section_5

The Willi Hennig Society, an organization devoted to the advancement of cladistic principles in systematic biology, was founded in 1981. Willi Hennig_sentence_78

The society publishes the journal Cladistics. Willi Hennig_sentence_79

A symposium, Willi Hennig (1913-1976): His Life, Legacy and the Future of Phylogenetic Systematics, was held in London by the Linnean Society of London on 27 November 2013.. A symposium volume was published in 2016 by the Systematics Association. Willi Hennig_sentence_80

Selected works Willi Hennig_section_6

Books: Willi Hennig_sentence_81

Willi Hennig_unordered_list_0

  • Die Larvenformen der Dipteren, 3 vols., Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1948-1952.Willi Hennig_item_0_0
  • Grundzüge einer Theorie der phylogenetischen Systematik, Berlin: Deutscher Zentralverlag, 1950.Willi Hennig_item_0_1
  • Phylogenetic Systematics, translated by D. Davis and R. Zangerl, Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1966 (reprinted 1979).Willi Hennig_item_0_2
  • Die Stammesgeschichte der Insekten, Frankfurt am Main: Verlag von Waldemar Kramer, 1969.Willi Hennig_item_0_3
  • Phylogenetische Systematik, edited by Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Hennig, Berlin and Hamburg: Verlag Paul Parey, 1982.Willi Hennig_item_0_4
  • Aufgaben und Probleme stammesgeschichtlicher Forschung, Berlin: Paul Parey, 1984.Willi Hennig_item_0_5

Articles: Willi Hennig_sentence_82

Willi Hennig_unordered_list_1

  • "Die Schlangengattung Dendrophis," Zoologischer Anzeiger, vol. 99, 1932, 273-297 (gemeinsam mit W. Meise).Willi Hennig_item_1_6
  • "Beziehungen zwischen geographischer Verbreitung und systematischer Gliederung bei einigen Dipterenfamilien: ein Beitrag zum Problem der Gliederung systematischer Kategorien höherer Ordnung," Zoologischer Anzeiger, vol. 116, 1936, 161-175.Willi Hennig_item_1_7
  • "Revision der Gattung Draco (Agamidae)," Temminckia: a Journal of Systematic Zoology, vol. 1, 1936, 153-220.Willi Hennig_item_1_8
  • "Über einige Gesetzmäßigkeiten der geographischen Variation in der Reptiliengattung Draco L.: „parallele“ und konvergente Rassenbildung," Biolog. Zentralblatt, vol. 56, 1936, 549-559.Willi Hennig_item_1_9
  • "Die Gattung Rachicerus Walker und ihre Verwandten im Baltischen Bernstein," Zool. Anz., vol. 123, 1938, 33-41.Willi Hennig_item_1_10
  • "Probleme der biologischen Systematik," Forschungen und Fortschritte, vol. 21/23, 1947, 276-279.Willi Hennig_item_1_11
  • "Kritische Bemerkungen zum phylogenetischen System der Insekten," Beiträge zur Entomologie, vol. 3 (Sonderheft), 1953, 1-85.Willi Hennig_item_1_12
  • "Flügelgeäder und System der Dipteren unter Berücksichtigung der aus dem Mesozoikum beschriebenen Fossilien," Beiträge zur Entomologie, vol. 4, 1954, 245-388.Willi Hennig_item_1_13
  • "Systematik und Phylogenese," Bericht Hunderjahrfeier Dtsch. Ent. Ges., 1956, 50-71.Willi Hennig_item_1_14
  • "Die Familien der Diptera Schizophora und ihre phylogenetischen Verwandtschaftsbeziehungen," Beitr. Ent., vol. 8, 1958, 508-688.Willi Hennig_item_1_15
  • "Die Dipteren-Fauna von Neuseeland als systematisches und tiergeographisches Problem," Beitr. Ent., vol. 10, 1960, 221-329.Willi Hennig_item_1_16
  • "Phylogenetic Systematics," Annu. Rev. Entomol., vol. 10, 1965, 97-116.Willi Hennig_item_1_17
  • "Dixidae aus dem Baltischen Bernstein, mit Bemerkungen über einige andere fossile Arten aus der Gruppe Culicoidea," Beitr. Naturkde, vol. 153, 1966, 1-16.Willi Hennig_item_1_18
  • "Die sogenannten „niederen Brachycera“ im Baltischen Bernstein," Beitr. Naturkde, vol. 174, 1967, 1-51.Willi Hennig_item_1_19
  • "Kritische Bemerkungen über den Bau der Flügelwurzel bei den Dipteren und die Frage nach der Monophylie der Nematocera," Beitr. Naturkde, vol. 193, 1968, 1-23.Willi Hennig_item_1_20
  • "Cladistic Analysis or Cladistic Classification? A reply to Ernst Mayr," Syst. Zool., vol. 24, 1975, 244-256.Willi Hennig_item_1_21

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willi Hennig.