Emergence of the Ecological Sciences

Frank N. Egerton

in Roots of Ecology

Published by University of California Press

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780520271746
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780520953635 | DOI:
Emergence of the Ecological Sciences

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Humboldt became the main founder of phytogeography, with thirty volumes on his explorations and collections in Spanish America. Concurrently, André and François Michaux explored North American phytogeography. The United States sponsored explorations of western North America, led by Louis and Clark and others; these expeditions collected specimens and made ecological observations. Individual naturalists made similar explorations. Linnaeus's concept of the economy of nature had assumed stability of species, but paleontology showed evidence of extinctions. Lamarck postulated that extinct species had evolved into new species; Cuvier countered that catastrophic geological changes had caused extinctions, followed by creation of new species. Lyell drew upon those theories and on Candolle to establish a concept of a changing economy of nature. Marine biology began in France, but Britain soon took the lead. Forbes studied marine life before and after a Mediterranean expedition. Gosse was more of an amateur, but his books attracted many to marine biology. The phytogeographer Watson became an evolutionist and studied changes of species in different parts of their ranges. Darwin's voyage provided as many ecological as evolutionary discoveries. From the mid-1820s to the mid-1850s, explorations of western North America continued on a larger scale, with more federal expeditions including naturalists. Thoreau was a stay-at-home naturalist like White, who influenced him; his writings reached an audience perhaps comparable to White's.

Keywords: Humboldt; André Michaux; François Michaux; Louis and Clark; Linnaeus's economy of nature; Lamarck; Cuvier; Lyell; Watson; Darwin on BeagleForbes; Gosse; Thoreau

Chapter.  36372 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Animal Pathology and Diseases

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