Island Press grieves the loss of Michael Soulé, an Island Press author who was widely recognized as the Father of Conservation Biology. Michael was a founder and first president of the Society for Conservation Biology as well as a cofounder of The Wildlands Network. His impact lives on through Island Press and his many contributions to the environmental community.
Barbara Dean was Michael’s editor at Island Press for several decades beginning in the late 1980s, and over the years they became friends and collaborators. His fourth Island Press book, Collected Papers of Michael E. Soulé, was one of the final books she edited before her retirement in 2014 and was dearest to her heart. Barbara’s tribute below conveys the importance of Michael’s legacy to the conservation world and how the actions of one determined person can be the catalyst for powerful change:
It was not only an honor to work with Michael Soulé on his books that Island Press published, it also changed my life. Michael showed me the power that a book can have. To be present at the beginning of a new science—a new way of understanding the wild world, how it works, and why that matters—was more than exciting. It changed how I experienced the world.
Michael brought science together with spirit and love. He valued the role of every part of the natural world. As he said in the acknowledgments of his last Island Press book, “I also thank the wild, scaly hairy predators, the large herbivores, and the terrestrial, marine, and aquatic leafy and microbial beings that ensure the stability and diversity in wild places.” I will always be grateful to Michael for introducing me to this broader, more appreciative understanding of the millions of life forms that I live among. I will miss him.