Ernest Thompson Seton, also known as Ernest Seton Thompson (the latter being his birth name), was born in 1860 in England, and lived to the ripe old age of 86. He is well-known for his many books, most of which showcase his remarkable ability to draw pictures of wildlife, and also for his hand in the beginning of the Boy Scouts of America (he pretty much came up with the idea!).

However, Seton is likely best known for his famous "Seton estimates", an invaluable resource in ecology and conservation biology. In Seton's travels all across the United States and Canada, he drew a portrait of every species that he came across. More importantly, he attempted to make a count of every population he saw. After he made his counts, he would add them up and try to give an estimate of the total number of an animal species on the continent.

Unfortunately, he obviously wasn't a very good counter. But it's not entirely his fault; imagine counting a herd of buffalo as they sprinted across an open plain. There's a lot of them! And they're moving! Luckily, even though his final numbers were wildly off, we can trust that he at least made all of his measurements and estimates in the same way. That means that, though we can't trust the exact numbers, they should be proportionate. For example...

The White-Tailed Deer (Odoicelius virginianus) was a very prominent species back in the days of Seton. This makes it unsurprising that Seton's estimate of the White-Tailed Deer in America was roughly 40 million. This estimate is about 20 million deer off. Due to national Game and Fish estimates, we have about 18-25 million White-Tailed Deer now. We know that this is the highest the species has ever been at, because, due to modern construction and agriculture, it has a far greater range and a lot more available habitat. But, we can use this estimate of 40 million as a comparison. Seton also estimated the Bison population to be about 65-75 million, a wildly over the top figure, but one that lets us know that there must have been a huge number of Bison in America - Seton estimated them to be almost double the White-Tailed Deer.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.