David W Wilton had extensive experience of Arctic life and work, having lived for some years in the north of Russia, where he became an expert ski runner and adept at sledging. In 1896, he joined the Jackson-Harmsworth Arctic Expedition, 1894-1897 (leader Frederick George Jackson) to Franz Josef Land. Sledging expeditions were undertaken during which much of the western archipelago was charted and some scientific programme conducted.
After the expedition, Wilton returned to Edinburgh where he read zoology and botany at the University and Royal Colleges. He gained a sound knowledge of meteorology at the Observatory on the summit of Ben Nevis, and took part in an expedition to Turkestan and Western China.
In 1902, Wilton was selected for the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition, 1902-1904 (leader William Speirs Bruce) as assistant zoologist on board the Scotia. Wilton undertook the zoological work and also tested the specific gravities of water samples obtained on the expedition.
On his return, Wilton contributed to the scientific reports of the expedition. He died on 10 January 1940.
Published work, 'Zoological log of Scotia' by David W. Wilton in, Scottish National Antarctic Expedition. Report on the scientific results of the voyage of S.Y. Scotia during the years 1902, 1903 and 1904, under the leadership of William S. Bruce volume 4, Zoology, edited by William Speirs Bruce, Scottish Oceanographical Laboratory Edinburgh (1907) SPRI Library Shelf (7):91(08)[1902-1904 Bruce]