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Roots of Ecology

Roots of Ecology: Antiquity to Haeckel

Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Roots of Ecology
    Book Description:

    Ecology is the centerpiece of many of the most important decisions that face humanity.Roots of Ecologydocuments the deep ancestry of this now enormously important science from the early ideas of Herodotos, Plato, and Pliny, up through those of Linnaeus and Darwin, to those that inspired Ernst Haeckel's mid-nineteenth-century neologism ecology. Based on a long-running series of regularly published columns, this important work gathers a vast literature illustrating the development of ecological and environmental concepts, ideas, and creative thought that has led to our modern view of ecology.Roots of Ecologyshould be on every ecologist's shelf.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95363-5
    Subjects: Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VIII)
    (pp. IX-X)
    (pp. XI-XIV)

    Ernst Haeckel coined and defined the term “oecologie” in 1866, and four sciences—plant ecology, animal ecology, limnology, and marine biology—emerged during the 1890s. So why write on the history of ecological sciences beginning in antiquity? A rose by any other name is still a rose. Greeks established the balance-of-nature concept, zoology, and botany; and a Roman invented a catch-all ecological science—natural history. These sciences included what we call ecological observations and comments. In the mid-1700s, Carl Linnaeus formally organized an ecological science, “oeconomia naturae.” His was a static ecology based on static species. What Haeckel did in...

  5. CHAPTER ONE Greeks and Romans: Antiquity
    (pp. 1-16)

    Ancient Greeks invented the critical mind—perhaps the first giant intellectual step for mankind. That paved the way to move from protoscience to science. All early cultures had protoscience. Early Mesopotamians, Egyptians, Chinese, and Mayans collected and recorded data on celestial bodies and natural history, but they were unable to take the next crucial step of developing a theory to interpret the data. They were locked into the mythopoeic mind that interpreted all causation with anthropocentric myths.¹ Hebrews mentioned ants storing food for the winter only as a lesson for sluggards.² Greeks also had animal stories with human lessons (e.g.,...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Medieval Millennium
    (pp. 17-32)

    Emperor Constantine I left Rome and built a second capital, New Rome, in 324–30 AD, at the former Greek state of Byzantium. Later, New Rome was renamed Constantinople, and the Roman Empire became divided into a Greek east and a Latin west. The western empire disintegrated before 500, whereas the eastern empire lasted a thousand years after Constantine, and historians call it the Byzantine Empire. Byzantine civilization blended Greek, Roman, and Christian cultures. Two components of this heritage—Roman and Christian—neglected science, which helps explain why Byzantine contributions to science were often weaker than those of ancient Greece....

  7. CHAPTER THREE Renaissance
    (pp. 33-44)

    The advancement of botany during the Italian Renaissance and early Scientific Revolution was so extensive that only representative examples are discussed here.¹ The devastating Black Death (a plague carried by rat fleas) came to Europe in 1347 at Italian ports, but prosperity returned to Europe during the early 1400s at those same ports—both brought by overseas commerce. The Italian Renaissance had begun during the 1300s, and it flourished again during the later 1400s. Turkish conquest of Byzantium in early and mid-1400s coincided with Italy’s revival, and Greek scholars, including Theodoros Gazes (chapter 2), fled to Italy with Greek manuscripts.²...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Scientific Revolution
    (pp. 45-70)

    European scientists and their publications increased steadily during the 1600s. Italy, England, and France provided good environments for the expansion of science, 1600–50s. Germany and the Netherlands, alternatively, suffered a setback from the Thirty Years’ War, 1618–48. Naturalists needed social organization beyond what universities and medical societies provided. They corresponded with each other and founded botanical gardens, menageries, and museums.¹ Although the Catholic Inquisition shut down Giambattista della Porta’s Accademia Secretorum Naturae (chapter 3) for several years, its activities and his publications interested another teenaged nobleman, Federico Cesi (1585–1630).² With his father’s opposition and his mother’s support,...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE Emerging Natural History
    (pp. 71-102)

    Richard Bradley (1688?–1732) was an Englishman of limited means, who nevertheless devoted his life to botany, horticulture, and natural history.¹ He had a childhood interest in gardening and grew up near London. His publications were numerous, often innovative, popular, and essential to his livelihood.² Our earliest evidence of him is a 1710 illustrated prospectus for aTreatise of Succulent Plants, to be published for subscribers. Having no established reputation, he failed to obtain enough subscribers. In his time, it was unusual for the Royal Society to admit members lacking a university education, but there is no evidence Bradley had...

  10. CHAPTER SIX Organism Center Stage
    (pp. 103-120)

    During the 1600s, progress in plant physiology did not match the important advances in plant anatomy. Despite studies on plant growth in weighed amounts of dirt or in water, there had been little advance beyond the ancient awareness that most plants grow better in sunlight with water than in shade with less water. During the 1700s, there were major advances in plant physiology, tied directly to the chemical revolution.

    In 1724 Richard Bradley supported the hunch of two correspondents that plants draw nourishment from air, and Jethro Tull ridiculed him for it (chapter 5). Stephen Hales (1677–1761) moved beyond...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN Emergence of the Ecological Sciences
    (pp. 121-164)

    F. W. H. Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859) and Carl Ritter (1779–1859) were the two founders of modern geography.¹ More places are named for Humboldt than for anyone else.² Alexander and his older brother Wilhelm were sons of a nobleman at the Prussian court in Berlin.³ Alexander developed an early interest in natural history and exploration, which he read about on his own, since science was unimportant in the German curriculum. Karl Ludwig Willdenow’sFlorae Berloinensis(1787) was Humboldt’s introduction to botany, and he became friends with Willdenow (1765–1812).⁴ Willdenow’sGrundriss der Kräuterkunde(1792; 4th ed. 1805; English...

  12. CHAPTER EIGHT Ascendant Ecology
    (pp. 165-208)

    Natural history before Origin of Species (1859) had many ecological ingredients but was weak in theory and in organizing a science. The balance of nature was as much myth as theory, and Carl Linnaeus’s economy of nature essays (1749, 1760) contained only a rudimentary effort at scientifi cally organizing a science.1 Evolutionary ideas of Erasmus Darwin and Jean Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Lamarck had ecological relevance but were not developed into an elaborate theory like Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection.

    In March 1837, when John Gould convinced Darwin that his Galapagos fi nches were separate species, he...

    (pp. 209-270)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 271-274)