Manual Ecology in the 20th Century: A History

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Ecology, History of
  1. History of ecology
  4. Integration and Quantification

Please turn on JavaScript and try again. Toggle navigation. News archive Currently selected Newsletters. Here, read about the emerging discipline of marine historical ecology MHE. Page Content. Print it Send to Share it. Page Image. Image Caption. Engelhard, Ruth H. Thurstan, Brian R.

History of ecology

MacKenzie, Heidi K. Alleway, R. Colin A. Bannister1, Massimiliano Cardinale, Maurice W. Clarke, Jock C. Holt, Carlotta Mazzoldi, John K. Volckaert, Emily S. Back to News. How to Go to FAQs. McIntosh, Robert P. The Background of Ecology: Concept and Theory. Real, Leslie A. Brown, eds. Foundations of Ecology Classic Papers with Commentaries. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Cite this article Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography. Lister, Bradford Carlton " Ecology, History of.

Lister, Bradford Carlton "Ecology, History of.


September 25, Retrieved September 25, from Encyclopedia. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list. Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia. Ecology descended from a tradition of natural history beginning in antiquity. What has been called protoecology is seen in the writings of Carolus Linnaeus , a Swedish botanist, who, in the eighteenth century, wrote of interactions of plants and animals, which he called The Economy of Nature.

In the early nineteenth century a German biogeographer, Alexander von Humboldt , stimulated the study of the distribution of vegetation as communities of plants and their environment that was pursued into the twentieth century by such European botanists as Oscar Drude and Eugene Warming.

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Edward Forbes , a British marine biologist, studied seashore communities early in the nineteenth century and was among the first to use quantitative methods for measuring water depth and counting individual organisms. The name ecology , however, was coined in by German biologist Ernst Haeckel, a prominent proponent of Darwinism. In Haeckel wrote, "Ecology is the study of all those complex interactions referred to by Darwin as the conditions of the struggle for existence.

Ecology emerged as a recognized science in the s and early s as a mix of oceanography, its freshwater counterpart limnology, and plant and animal ecology. It departed from the late-nineteenth-century emphasis on laboratory studies of physiology and genetics to return to the field emphasis of traditional natural history.


Premier British animal ecologist Charles Elton defined ecology as scientific natural history. In the United States , ecology flourished particularly in the Midwest. Forbes of the Illinois Laboratory of Natural History initiated studies of lakes and streams in the s. In the s Edward A. Birge pioneered lake studies at the University of Wisconsin. Frederic Clements initiated vegetation studies at the University of Nebraska and formulated ideas of ecological communities in the s that dominated American ecology for fifty years.

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In the same decade Henry C. Cowles, from the University of Chicago , studied the vegetation of the dunes of Lake Michigan. Clements and Cowles, among the first to earn advanced degrees in ecology, examined the changes of plant species populations, communities, and environments over time, a process they called succession , adapting the term from poet-naturalist Henry D. Clements's concept of succession, which dominated ecology until the s, was of communities developing progressively to a relatively stable state, or climax, that he said had properties of a superorganism.

Ecology became institutionalized in British and American ecological societies in and , respectively. Charles Elton wrote the first book on animal ecology in and provided organizing ideas that served to integrate population and community ecology and remain as key concepts. These were:.

Integration and Quantification

The s and s also produced early developments in quantitative ecology and mathematical theory. Ecological studies increasingly used quantitative samples of populations and communities to assess the numbers and kinds of organisms in a habitat and to measure the physical environment. Theoretical, mathematical, population ecology was an attempt, particularly by a physicist, Alfred Lotka, and a mathematical biologist, Vito Volterra, to extend principles of physical chemistry into ecology in the form of a differential equation, the logistic, that describes the growth of a population over time.

Ecological theory flourished in the s in the work of George Evelyn Hutchinson and Robert MacArthur , who formulated a niche theory of animal communities predicated on competition among species. Also in the s, the long-ignored, individualistic concept of community of Henry A.

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Gleason, which held that organisms responded individualistically to the physical environment and other organisms, was resurrected and became widely accepted as alternative to the superorganism theory of Clements. Ecologists became increasingly aware of the significance of historical and chance events for developing ecological theory. British ecologist Sir Arthur Tansley recognized that it was not possible to consider organisms apart from their physical environment, as ecologists conventionally did, and in coined the term "ecosystem.

The ecosystem concept was integrated with the trophic concept and succession in by a young American limnologist, Raymond Lindeman. Ecosystem ecology focused on the movements of matter and energy through the food web. Partly through the influence of American ecologist Eugene Odum, ecosystem ecology became one of the principal forces in ecology in the s and s and the basis of a new theoretical ecology termed "systems ecology.