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In the last few decades quite a few articles have been published concerning Volterra's contributions to biomathematics. These articles are usually focused on the works of Volterra published after 1926, while they overlook Volterra's intense activity as scientific organizer in the field of oceanographic studies in the years that span from 1910 - the year of his celebrated dissertation about the applications of mathematics to social and biological sciences - to 1925, when he met his prospective son-in-law Umberto D'Ancona. In this article I shall try to fill this gap by telling the history of Volterra's scientific collaboration with Italian biologists (such as Giovan Battista Grassi, Luigi de Marchi and Gustavo Brunelli) in the decades before his meeting with Umberto D'Ancona. This story is worth telling because it helps to explain the stronger emphasis Volterra placed in his first biomathematical papers on the importance of the applications of mathematics to biology for practical matters (such as the prevention of epidemics and the enhancement of the fishing industry) rather than on more theoretical issues, which he tackled only in the last years of his life.

Affiliations: 1: Universit di Bari


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