[WILSON, Edward Adrian.] COMMITTEE OF ENQUIRY ON GROUSE DISEASE. The Grouse In Health and In Disease. Being the final report of the committee of inquiry on grouse disease. Smith, Elder & Co. 1911
4to. 2 vols. Original green cloth, gilt lettering to spines; pp xxiv + 512, 58 plates incl. frontispiece, text illustrations; 150 incl. b&w maps, 1 coloured map; spines a little rubbed, occasional faint foxing especially to coloured map, very good.
First edition. Scarce. In between his two Antarctic expeditions with Captain Scott, Edward Wilson was taken on by the Grouse Disease Commission as Field Observer. The years 1905-1910 were spent dissecting around 2000 diseased grouse and trying to ascertain the cause of a series of epidemics that were affecting the birds. The study was crucial not only ornithologically but also economically - grouse shooting was worth £1 million a year to Scotland. The resulting report is Wilson's crowning achievement in ornithology. Although he would not live to see the final conclusions of the inquiry, he was instrumental in undertaking the first major study into fluctuations in numbers of a wild bird species. It stood for almost a century as the most extensive scientific investigation carried out into a disease in a wild bird population. In his management and execution of the study, Wilson pioneered many of the methods of modern field ornithology.