In memoriam:
Biswas,Biswamoy (1923-1994)

Auk, The,  Oct 2000
by Mayr, Ernst

With the death in Calcutta of Biswamoy Biswas on 10 August 1994, India lost its foremost bird taxonomist.
Born there on 2 June 1923, son of a professor of geology, Biswas was a brilliant student and gold medallist at his graduation. S. L. Hora, director of the Zoological Survey of India, recognized his promise and in 1947 awarded him a three-year fellowship. This allowed Biswas to study at the British Museum in London and with Stresemann in Berlin, but mostly at the American Museum in New York where he worked with me. He was an indefatigable worker, often staying in the museum far into the night after everyone else had gone home. The results were numerous clarifications in our understanding of Indian genera of birds, including Psittacula and Lanius.

On his return from abroad, Biswas obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Calcutta (1952) and took charge of the Bird and Mammal Section of the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI). Later, until retirement in 1981, he was Joint Director of the ZSI, and then Emeritus Scientist until 1986. A member of the AOU from 1948, he was elected a Corresponding Fellow in 1953.

Having adopted a modern genus concept, Biswas published in 1953 A Check-list of Genera of Indian Birds, the basis of all future taxonomic papers for the subcontinent. He also published on avian anatomy, particularly the vascular system, and on mammalian taxonomy. Of greater importance, he wrote the fundamental 12-part The Birds of Nepal (1960-1967), and, jointly with Salim Ali and S. Dillon Ripley, The Birds of Bhutan (1995).

A born naturalist and conservationist, Biswas spent as much time as possible in the field, visiting every state in central and northern India. He helped establish the Salt Lakes and Narendrapur wildlife sanctuaries near Calcutta. He was a member from 1958 of the International Ornithological Committee that directs the International Ornithological Congresses, and he also attended congresses of the International Council for Bird Preservation. For years he edited the Proceedings of the Zoological Society of Calcutta. The Asiatic Society awarded him the joy Govinda Law Memorial Medallion in 1975. A new genus of flying squirrel, Biswamoypterus, has been named in his honor.

His associates believe his greatest contribution was as a teacher. Numerous students obtained their Ph.D. under his supervision; he infected all of them with his enthusiasm and taught them the critical and meticulous approach that characterized his own work. A lifelong bachelor with a retiring, almost shy personality, he nevertheless made many friends during his years abroad. He lived frugally and donated most of his savings to charity. In all respects, he was an admirable human being.

A longer memorial, with portrait and partial bibliography, appeared in Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 92:397-402 in 1995.

ERNST MAYR
Museum of Comparative Zoology, 26 Oxford Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, LISA

Copyright American Ornithologists' Union Oct 2000
Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved



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Bibliografia:
  • Biswas, B. (1947): Notes on a collection of birds from the Darrang District, Assam. Records of the Indian Museum. 45: 225-244.
  • Biswas, B. (1947): On a collection of birds from Rajputana. Records of the Indian Museum. 45: 245-265.
  • Biswas, B. (1950): On the taxonomy of some Asiatic Pygmy Woodpeckers. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of Bengal. 3(1): 1-37.
  • Biswas, B. (1950): The Himalayan races of the Nutcracker Nucifraga caryocatactes (Linne.) [Aves]. Journal of the Zoological Society of India. 2(1): 26.
  • Biswas, B. (1950): The generic limits of Treron Vieillot. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists Club. 70(5): 34.
  • Biswas, B. (1951): Revisions of Indian birds. American Museum Novitates. 1500: 1-12.
  • Biswas, B. (1951): Notes on the taxonomic status of the Indian Plaintive Cuckoo Cuculus passerinus Vahl. Ibis. 93(4): 596-598.
  • Biswas, B. (1951): On some Larger Spine-tailed Swifts, with the description of a new subspecies (Chaetura cochinensis rupchandi) from Nepal. Ardea. 39(4): 318-321.
  • Biswas, B. (1952): Geographical variation in the woodpecker Picus flavinucha Gould. Ibis. 94(2): 210-219.
  • Biswas, B. (1953): Fauna of the Balangir District (formerly Patna State), Orissa. II. Birds. Records of the Indian Museum. 51: 416-419.
  • Biswas, B. (1954): Fauna of the Balangir District (formerly Patna State) Orissa. Birds. Records of the Indian Museum. 51: 416-419.
  • Biswas, B. (1954): A checklist of genera of Indian birds. Additions and corrections. Records of the Indian Museum. 54: 101-106a.
  • Biswas, B. (1954): Review: The Birds of Travancore & Cochin. By Salim Ali, with 22 plates (16 in colour by D.V. Cowen). Pp. xx+668. (Oxford University Press) Bombay, 1953. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 52(2&3): 573-575.
  • Biswas, B. (1955): Review: The Book of Indian Birds. By Salim Ali. 5th (Revised) edition. Pp. xlvi + 142, (7 1/4" x 4 3/4") 78 plates (56 in colour by D.V. Cowen), 3 diagrams and 2 end paper maps. Bombay Natural History Society, Bombay, 1955. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 53(1): 117-118.
  • Biswas, B. (1955): Zoological results of the Daily Mail Himalayas Expedition 1954. Two new birds from Khumba, Eastern Nepal. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists Club. 75(7): 87-88.
  • Biswas, B. (1958): Taxonomic status of the Blood Pheasants of Nepal and Sikkim. Journal of the Zoological Society of India. 10(1): 100-101.
  • Biswas, B. (1959): A note on the correct zoological name of the Indian Little Green Heron (Aves, Ardeidae). Current Science. 28: 288.
  • Biswas, B. (1960): A new name for the Himalayan Red-winged Babbler, Pteruthius. Bulletin of the British Ornithological Union. 80(6): 106.
  • Biswas, B. (1961): Proposal to designate a neotype for Corvus benghalensis Linnaeus, 1758 (Aves), under the plenary powers Z.N. (S) 1465. Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature. 18(3): 217-219.
  • Biswas, B. (1962): The birds of Nepal. Part 8. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 59(3): 807-821.
  • Biswas, B. (1962): Further notes on the Shrikes Lanius tephronotus and Lanius schach. Ibis. 104(1): 112-115.
  • Biswas, B. (1962): Review: A Synopsis of the Birds of India and Pakistan. By Sidney Dillon Ripley II. pp. xxxvi+703 (23x15.5 cm.). Bombay, 1961. Bombay Natural History Society. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 59(1): 276-278.
  • Biswas, B. (1973): Report of the Indian national section. Bulletin of the International Council for Bird Preservation. 11: 238-239.
  • Biswas, B. (1983): Additional notes on birds recorded on 1954 'Daily Mail' Himalayan Expedition. Unpublished.
  • Biswas, B. (?): Comments on Ripley's A Synopsis of the Birds of India and Pakistan. Part 2. Unpublished manuscript.
  • Biswas, Biswamoy (1950): On the Shrike Lanius tephronotus (Vigors), with remarks on the erythronotus and tricolor groups of Lanius schach Linne, and their hybrids. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 49(3): 444-455.
  • Biswas, Biswamoy (1951): A new race of the Ground-Thrush Turdus citrinus (Aves: Turdidae). Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 49(4): 661-662.
  • Biswas, Biswamoy (1952): A checklist of genera of Indian birds. Records of the Indian Museum. 50(1): 1-62.
  • Biswas, Biswamoy (1956): A Large Indian Kite Milvus migrans lineatus (Gray) with a split bill. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 53(3): 474-475.
  • Biswas, Biswamoy (1959): On the validity of Harpactes erythrocephalus hodgsoni (Gould) [Aves: Trogonidae]. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 56(2): 335-338.
  • Biswas, Biswamoy (1959): On the Parakeet, Psittacula intermedia (Rothschild) [Aves: Psittacidae]. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 56(3): 558-562.
  • Biswas, Biswamoy (1960): The birds of Nepal. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 57(2): 278-308.
  • Biswas, Biswamoy (1960): The birds of Nepal. Part 2. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 57(3): 516-546.
  • Biswas, Biswamoy (1961): The birds of Nepal. Part 3. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 58(1): 100-134.
  • Biswas, Biswamoy (1961): The birds of Nepal. Part 4. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 58(2): 441-474.
  • Biswas, Biswamoy (1961): The birds of Nepal. Part 5. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 58(3): 653-677.
  • Biswas, Biswamoy (1962): The birds of Nepal. Part 6. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 59(1): 200-227.
  • Biswas, Biswamoy (1962): The birds of Nepal. Part 7. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 59(2): 405-429.
  • Biswas, Biswamoy (1963): The birds of Nepal. Part 9. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 60(1): 173-200.
  • Biswas, Biswamoy (1963): The birds of Nepal. Part 10. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 60(2): 388-399.
  • Biswas, Biswamoy (1963): The birds of Nepal. Part 11. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 60(3): 638-654.
  • Biswas, Biswamoy (1963): Review: Comments on Ripley's "A Synopsis of the Birds of India and Pakistan". Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 60(3): 679-689.
  • Biswas, Biswamoy (1966): The birds of Nepal. Part 12. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 63(2): 365-377.
  • Biswas, Biswamoy (1968): The female of Molesworth's Tragopan Tragopan blythi molesworthi (Baker). Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 65(1): 216-217.
  • Biswas, Biswamoy (1968): Some new bird records for Nepal. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 65(3): 782-784.
  • Biswas, Biswamoy (1969): Review: Handbook of the Birds of India and Pakistan, Vol. 1. By Salim Ali and S. Dillon Ripley. pp. lviii+380 (16.7 x 24.7 cm.). 18 coloured plates. Bombay, 1968. Oxford University Press. Price Rs. 90. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 66(1): 152-154.
  • Biswas, Biswamoy (1969): Review: Birds of Kerala (second edition of The Birds of Travancore and Cochin). By Salim Ali. pp. xxiii+444 (16.5 x 24 cm.) + 22 plates (16 in colour by D.V. Cowen) + many pen-and-ink sketches+end-paper maps. Bombay, 1969. Oxford University Press. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 66(2): 372-373.
  • Biswas, Biswamoy (1972): Review: Handbook of the Birds of India and Pakistan. Vol. 6. By Salim Ali and S. Dillon Ripley. pp. xvi+245 (24x16 cm) with 8 coloured plates and numerous black-and-white illustrations. Bombay, 1971. Oxford University Press. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 69(2): 400-401.
  • Biswas, Biswamoy (1974): Zoological results of the Daily Mail Himalayan Expedition 1954: Notes on some birds of Eastern Nepal. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 71(3): 456-495.
  • Biswas, Biswamoy (1978): Review: Field Guide to the Birds of the Eastern Himalayas. By Salim Ali. pp. xvi+263 (11.8x18 cm). With 37 coloured plates. Delhi, 1977. Oxford University Press. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 75(3): 915-916.
  • Biswas, Biswamoy (1985): Review: Comments on Ripley's "A Synopsis of the Birds of India and Pakistan" - Second Edition (1982). Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 82(1): 126-129.
  • Biswas, Biswamoy (1986): Review: A Pictorial Guide to the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent. By Salim Ali & S. Dillon Ripley. Pp. 117+106 plates (73 in colour, 33 monochrome), (18.5 cm x 24.7 cm) with plates by John Henry Dick. New Delhi, 1983. Bombay Natural History Society & Oxford University Press. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 83(2): 412-414.
  • Biswas, Biswamoy (1989): Taxonomic status of Psittacula intermedia (Rothschild). Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 86(3): 448.