Vestal, Arthur Gibson (1888-1964) | University of Illinois Archives

Name: Vestal, Arthur Gibson (1888-1964)

Historical Note:

Arthur Gibson Vestal (1888-1964) was professor of botany (1929-57) and professor emeritus (1957-64) at the University of Illinois (UI). He was an influential ecologist, who made significant contributions to the study of plant and animal ecology, phytogeography, and phytosociology.

Vestal was born in LaGrange, Illinois, on September 10, 1888, and grew up in Chicago. He earned a bachelor's degree from UI (1911) and a master's degree from the University of Colorado (1913). In 1915, he obtained a PhD from the University of Chicago with a dissertation titled, "Phytogeography of the Eastern Mountain Front in Colorado." Vestal held teaching positions at the University of Colorado (1911-14), Eastern Illinois State Normal School (1915-20), Stanford University (1920-29), and UI (1929-57). Over the course of his long academic career, he "made valuable contributions toward the development of concepts and statistical methods to be used in describing and classifying plant communities and regional vegetation complexes from a phytosociological point of view" (Martin). He published widely, including his influential 1949 monograph Minimum areas for different vegetations: their determination from species area curves, and made extensive study of the ecologies of Illinois, Colorado, and California.

Vestal married fellow botanist Wanda Pfeiffer Vestal (1882-1969) in 1916, and they had three children. He died on June 5, 1964.


"Trelease Woods," Illinois LAS, accessed April 29, 2020,

"Arthur G. Vestal," The Ecological Society of America's History and Records, accessed April 29, 2020,

W. E. Martin, "Resolution of Respect, Arthur Gibson Vestal," Ecological Society of America, accessed April 29, 2020,

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