Charles Sutherland Elton was born on 29 March 1900. He read zoology at New College, Oxford, graduating in 1922. An interest in natural history had been stimulated by his participation in the Oxford University Spitsbergen expedition (leader Francis Jourdain) in 1921, organized to conduct mainly ornithological work along the north-west coast of Spitsbergen and to attempt to sledge across the ice cap of central Spitsbergen. In 1923, Elton was appointed chief scientist on the Merton College (Oxford) Arctic expedition (leader George Binney), organized to continue scientific work in Spitsbergen and to make a reconnaissance of Nordaustlandet. The following year, Elton returned to the Arctic with the Oxford University Arctic Expedition to North East Land. His first book Animal Ecology was published in 1927 and reflected his life-long interest in plant and animal relationships. He returned north in 1930 on the Oxford University Lapland Expedition, involving himself in breeding cycles of small tundra mammals and their inter-relationships with food and predators.
In 1932, Elton founded both the Oxford University Bureau of Animal Population, of which he remained director until his retirement in 1967, and the Journal of Ecology, which he edited until 1951. Throughout the 1930s, he studied population cycling in rodents and other small mammals, work that acquired national importance in the Second World War when pest control measures were urgently needed. After the war, Elton developed coordinated ecological studies in Wytham Wood, near Oxford, and helped to establish the Nature Conservancy in 1948, serving on its scientific policy committee until 1956. He died on 1 May 1991. Published work Scientific results of the second and third Oxford University expeditions to Spitsbergen in 1923 and 1924 edited by Charles S. Elton, Oxford University Press (1929) SPRI Library Shelf (32)91(08)[1921 Oxford University] Bound Pamphlets volume 2
From the guide to the Charles Elton collection, 1930-1983, (Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge)