[Memoir] Professor Sir Patrick Bateson FRS: 31 March 1938—1 August 2017

Laland, Kevin N. and Rose, Steven (2019). [Memoir] Professor Sir Patrick Bateson FRS: 31 March 1938—1 August 2017. Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society, 66

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1098/rsbm.2018.0040


Patrick Bateson made outstanding contributions to the study of animal behaviour over a 50-year period, a field in which he was regarded as a world leader. His research involved analyses of the development, causal mechanisms, function and evolution of behaviour, and combined work in the experimental laboratory with observations of the natural behaviour of animals and theoretical analyses. With particular expertise on behavioural development, Bateson made seminal contributions to several topics, including filial imprinting, mate choice, developmental plasticity, the roles of behaviour and development in evolution, animal welfare and animal play. His research on imprinting in birds pioneered new methods, set new standards for behavioural research and shed new light on the interplay of internal and external factors during behavioural development. Recognizing that a complete understanding of behaviour requires investigation at a number of levels, Bateson's interactionist perspective led him to be highly critical of reductionism and of simple-minded use of terms such as ‘instinct’ and ‘innate’. Bateson published several influential books and well over 300 scientific articles, including a substantial number in flagship journals such as Nature and Science. His contribution to science was recognized with many honours, including a knighthood, the Frink Medal of the Zoological Society of London and the Distinguished Animal Behaviorist Career Award of the Animal Behavior Society. Bateson was also provost of Kings College Cambridge, president of the Zoological Society of London and biological secretary and vice-president of the Royal Society. A leading public intellectual in the early part of the twenty-first century, Bateson brought leadership and balanced judgement to many difficult issues, including the use of animals in medical research, dog breeding and hunting.

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