Much of what both Aldo Leopold and Edward F. Ricketts pondered was the emerging discipline of ecology, and what ecology was beginning to tell us about humanity's proper place in the world. To put their era into context, this chapter turns to a historian of natural history, Robert Kohler. By applying uniform collecting practices and meticulous data management, surveys were designed to make the study of natural history exact and rigorous. These collections then provided baseline data for producing species classifications and biogeographic maps. Biogeography addresses questions such as where creatures live, and why they live there. And once these data are known, they contribute to our growing understanding of biodiversity. Leopold spoke like a twentieth-century ecologist, using terms such as biotic pyramid, food chain, energy circuits, species diversity, and home range; however, he referred to himself as a naturalist.
Keywords: Aldo Leopold; Edward F. Ricketts; ecology; natural history; Robert Kohler; surveys; biogeography; biodiversity; food chain; biotic pyramid
Chapter. 2621 words.
Subjects: History of Science and Technology
Full text: subscription required