Obituary – Kristian Fauchald – WoRMS Polychaeta founding editor

Added on 2015-04-29 10:25:36 by Vandepitte, Leen
Kristian Fauchald, emeritus research zoologist at Smithsonian, and a founding editor of the World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) passed away the 5th April 2015.
Contributed by Fredrik Pleijel (University of Gothenburg, Sweden) and Greg Rouse (Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD, USA).
Kristian was born in Norway in 1935, took degrees at the University of Bergen, and in 1961 made his first publication on Norwegian occurrences of a crab; he thereafter published nearly exclusively on annelids for the rest of his career. He moved to California in 1965 for his Ph.D. studies with Olga Hartman and in 1969 was appointed assistant professor of biology at University of Southern California (USC). He was also appointed curator of marine annelids at the Allan Hancock Foundation, where he worked until 1979. The Allan Hancock Foundation had developed an outstanding polychaete collection under Olga Hartman and Kristian collaborated with her and carried on the tradition she had built as well as developing his own influential studies. While at USC and the Allan Hancock Foundation, Kristian’s publication highlights were his famous ”Pink Book” guide to the polychaetes (Fauchald 1977) and the ”Diet of Worms” together with Peter Jumars (Fauchald & Jumars 1979), the former cited 1005 and the latter 1737 times!

Kristian moved in 1979 to the Department of Invertebrate Zoology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution where he remained. While there he concentrated on systematics within Eunicida resulting in a series of major revisionary monographs. In more recent times he has devoted his time to the problematic scaleworms. He was also instrumental in the first broadscale morphological cladistic analyses across annelids.
Beyond his own research Kristian was a mentor for many worm workers and he taught in a series of ‘Polychaete Biology Classes’ at Santa Catalina Marine Lab (with Paul C. Schroeder), Friday Harbor (with Peter Jumars, and later with Sally Woodin and Herb Wilson) and Biologisk Stasjon Espegrend, and in other polychaete-oriented courses at Ischia and Lecce in Italy, Brazil, Iceland and Madrid. The home of Kristian and his husband Leonard Hirsch in Washington DC was a haven to a long list of annelid workers.

Kristian was rare in many ways and, not least in keeping an open mind and being able to take part in a paradigm shift in systematics. Starting out with his first publication in 1961 he was well educated in the school of evolutionary taxonomy, but later, in the 1980s and 1990s re-educated himself into tree-thinking and phylogenetics. He had a life-long interest in philosophy of science and life itself.
A sense of the esteem with which he was held in the annelid community can be seen in the taxa that were named for him (including homonyms!) as compiled from WoRMS:
Amphisamytha fauchaldi Solís-Weiss & Hernández-Alcántara, 1994, Caulleryaspis fauchaldi Salazar-Vallejo & Buzhinskaja, 2013, Chirimia fauchaldi Light, 1991, Clavodorum fauchaldi Desbruyères, 1980, Clymenella fauchaldi Carrasco & Palma, 2003, Diopatra kristiani Paxton, 1998 Dodecaseta fauchaldi Green, 2002, Eunice kristiani Hartmann-Schröder & Zibrowius, 1998, Hypereteone fauchaldi (Kravitz & Jones, 1979), Eunice fauchaldi Miura, 1986, Fauchaldius Carrera-Parra & Salazar Vallejo, 1998, Fauchaldonuphis Paxton, 2005, Fauveliopsis fauchaldi Katzmann & Laubier, 1974, Gesaia fauchaldi Kirtley, 1994, Hypereteone fauchaldi (Kravitz & Jones, 1979), Kinbergonuphis fauchaldi Wu, Wang & Wu, 1987, Kinbergonuphis fauchaldi Lana, 1991, Kinbergonuphis kristiani Leon-Gonzalez, Rivera & Romero, 2004, Linopherus fauchaldi San Martín, 1986, Linopherus kristiani Salazar-Vallejo, 1987, Lumbrineris fauchaldi Blake, 1972, Marphysa fauchaldi Glasby & Hutchings, 2010, Melinna fauchaldi Gallardo, 1968, Neogyptis fauchaldi Pleijel, Rouse, Sundkvist & Nygren, 2012, Nereis fauchaldi Leon-Gonzalez & Diaz-Castaneda, 1998, Notodasus kristiani García-Garza, Hernandez-Valdez & De León-González, 2009, Paradiopatra fauchaldi Buzhinskaja, 1985, Piromis fauchaldi Salazar-Vallejo, 2011, Poecilochaetus fauchaldi Pilato & Cantone, 1976, Prionospio fauchaldi Maciolek, 1985, Pseudatherospio fauchaldi Lovell, 1994, Rullierinereis fauchaldi Leon-Gonzalez & Solis-Weiss, 2000, Sarsonuphis fauchaldi Kirkegaard, 1988 Sphaerephesia fauchaldi Kudenov, 1987, Sphaerodoridium fauchaldi Hartmann-Schröder, 1993 and Sphaero doropsis fauchaldi Hartmann-Schröder, 1979.
Kristian, or maestro as we called him behind his back, was a wonderful mentor for us both. He and Len hosted us in Washington DC as we began our wormy careers and we met many times over the succeeding years; in the field, at conferences and at courses. His deep knowledge of worms and philosophy constantly had us questioning and discussing, such as over a cold beer after a days work at the Smithsonian’s laboratory at Carrie Bow Cay, Belize.
He had a great laugh and we miss him.

Image: Kristian on Carrie Bow Cay in 2006. The book is on Chinese philosophy.

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