Chapter

Enter Ecology Preserving Nature's Living Laboratory

in Nature's Ghosts

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2009 | ISBN: 9780226038148
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226038155 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226038155.003.0008
Enter Ecology Preserving Nature's Living Laboratory

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In a March 1920 essay published in the Scientific Monthly, the American naturalist Francis B. Sumner noted that warnings issued by several authors about impending extinction were overly narrow. Trained as an ecologist, Sumner sought to combine the rigor of laboratory methods with extensive work in the field. The science of ecology emerged during a period of reform fervor in American biology. By the 1880s and 1890s, a new laboratory-based embryology, cytology, and physiology eclipsed the descriptive, field- and museum-oriented, and taxonomically focused natural history. The Ecological Society of America (ESA), founded in 1915 with Victor Shelford as its first president, played a major role in helping ecology gain a firm foothold within American biology. ESA not only pushed for the establishment of new national parks, but also sought to have areas within existing national parks and national forests set aside as more-or-less inviolate nature sanctuaries. Another naturalist, Aldo Leopold, pushed to forge the science of ecology into a new conservation ethic.

Keywords: Francis B. Sumner; extinction; ecology; biology; laboratory; Ecological Society of America; conservation; Aldo Leopold; national parks; nature sanctuaries

Chapter.  13586 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental History

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