The History of Early British and US-American Ecology to 1950

  • Robert McIntosh


Scientific ecology was anticipated by a long history of natural history observations from classical times, recently termed protoecology (Glacken 1967; Egerton 1976). Ecology (Oekologie) was coined in 1866 by Ernst Haeckel, a German biologist and advocate of Darwin (see Chap. 10) One of the earliest uses in English was by Patrick Geddes, a British botanist. In 1880, 20 years before the term ecology was in general use, Geddes offered a hierarchy of the sciences putting ecology under sociology rather than biology (Mairet 1957), anticipating later connections with sociology. Geddes taught the brothers Robert and William Smith who later joined with Arthur G. Tansley in furthering vegetation studies and plant ecology in Britain (Tansley 1911). In 1893 the president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science described “oecology” as a branch of biology coequal with morphology and physiology and “by far the most attractive” (McIntosh 1985).


Animal Community Ecological Society Ecosystem Concept British Ecological Society German Biologist 
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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert McIntosh
    • 1
  1. 1.Formerly Professor at the Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of Notre DameNotre DameUSA

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