Born on 13 September 1931 in Rotterdam, Jacobus Theodorus [Koos] Wiebes read biology at Leiden University where he obtained his Ph.D. in 1963 on studies of Indo-Australian fig wasps. He started working on spiders (Lycosidae, Pisauridae) and beetles (Carabidae, Cetoniidae, Helodidae), but he earned his scientific reputation as a specialist in fig wasps (Hymenoptera: Agaonidae, Torymidae), their parasitoids and intricate host relationships (1961-1994: 89 papers). He served for many years on the staff of the Rijksmuseum van Natuurlijke Historie, Leiden (1955-1970, initially as assistant, later as curator of Coleoptera and as assistant director since 1965), to return as director of the newly merged national zoology and geology museums (ad interim 1982-1984, director 1984-1989). In 1970 he was appointed to the chair of Systematic Zoology and Evolutionary Biology at Leiden University, where he worked successfully until returning to the museum. Wiebes initiated studies on the lepidopteran complex of Yponomeuta species and their host plants, studying speciation in a context of ecology, taxonomy and phylogeny. Most results in this field were published in conjunction with Dr W.M. Herrebout and various (mainly Ph.D.) students. Indeed, this research project attracted a host of students and also world-wide attention. Wiebes had a talent for organization and management so that he was frequently asked to serve on various committees mainly concerned with biology on an academic level. In 1978 he was elected a member of the Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen, Amsterdam, where he later served on various councils. His influence on the organization of biology in the universities and research councils was indeed nationwide. Health problems forced him to take early retirement in 1989, but he insisted on completing publication of his work on the fig wasps. On 6 December 1999 he died in Leiderdorp leaving a first reputation as an evolutionary biologist and a systematic entomologist.

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Zoologische Mededelingen

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Naturalis journals & series

van Bruggen, D., & van Achterberg, C. (2000). In memoriam Prof. Dr J.T. Wiebes (1931-1999), evolutionary biologist and systematic entomologist. Zoologische Mededelingen, 74, 18-24, 271–281.