"E.O. Wilson was called 'Darwin's natural heir,' and was known affectionately as 'the ant man' for his pioneering work as an entomologist," the foundation wrote. It did not cite a cause of death but said a tribute to his life was planned for 2022.
In addition to groundbreaking work in evolution and entomology, in his later years Wilson spearheaded a campaign to unite the scientific and religious communities in an odd-couple pairing he felt presented the best chance to preserve Earth.
Among Wilson's most controversial works was 1975's "Sociobiology: The New Synthesis" in which he wrote that all human behavior was a product of genetic predetermination, not learned experiences. By coming out in favor of human nature over nurture, he set off a firestorm of criticism, with his harshest opponents accusing him of being racist and sexist.
One protester threw water on Wilson while he was speaking at a conference as others chanted, "Wilson, you're all wet." It was, Wilson said later, a matter of pride for him that he was willing to pursue scientific truth despite such attacks.