Wolfgang Wickler, 1931–2024

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Wickler, former director of the Max Planck Institute for Behavioural Physiology, Seewiesen (1973–1999) passed away on 12 January

January 17, 2024

Wolfgang Wickler was a „Seewiesener“ from the very first minute. He joined the MPI for Behavioural Physiology when it was founded in 1954 as doctoral student of Konrad Lorenz from Buldern. In 1973, he became a scientific member of the Max Planck Society and in 1975, after Lorenz’ retirement, he was appointed as director of the department “Evolutionary Behavioural Research”. He remained at the institute until its closure in 1999.

In the course of his active time as a behavioral researcher, Wolfgang Wickler published over 72 books, 91 book chapters and 306 publications in specialist journals. His interests included "protozoa, spiders, crustaceans, fish, birds and monkeys, as well as some cultural peculiarities of humans and their traditions compared to those of animals", as he himself wrote in his autobiography in 2017. In fact, however, he was much more than that – Wolfgang Wickler was a walking biology encyclopaedia. He was passionate about field research from an early age and travelled to Africa 39 times alone for his studies. 

The promotion of young scientists was particularly important to him, with the aim of inspiring young talent for promising research tasks and thus ensuring the continuity of scientific work.

Wolfgang Wickler was also passionate about music, especially church music; he played the organ into old age and was involved in the institute's in-house music programme.

With Wolfgang Wickler we lost a great, internationally renowned behavioral researcher. We will honor his memory. Our heartfelt sympathy goes to the family.

The funeral will take place on Friday, 19 January 2024 at 10 a.m. in St. Michael's Church in Starnberg (Hanfeld). The funeral will take place after the service.

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