Roots of Ecology

by Greg Mayer

My friend and colleague Frank Egerton, Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, is the author of a new book, Roots of Ecology: Antiquity to Haeckel, published last month by the University of California Press.  With two sections on Darwin, and two others featuring Alfred Russel Wallace, the book will be of great interest to evolutionists as well as ecologists. Frank is an award winning historian of science, perhaps our greatest student of the history of ecology, and very appreciative of the intertwining of ecology and evolutionary biology. WEIT readers may recall when we announced his talk on “Ecological Aspects of Darwin’s Voyage on the Beagle“ during the Darwin bicentennial. Frank is also the author of  A History of the Ecological Sciences, appearing serially in the Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America, which formed part of the basis for the book. At Frank’s website, there are additional illustrations and maps to accompany the book.

I think that one reason Frank’s work is especially appreciated by scientists is that he has a clear understanding of the science involved, and this informs his historical interests and analysis. As he wrote in a book review in 1976:

[T]he history of error is uninteresting unless some interesting lessons can be learned from it.

The well-equipped Victorian naturalist: Nikolai Miklucho-Maklai and Ernst Haeckel.

12 Comments

  1. Posted September 30, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    There’s really no separating the two big “E’s” in biology. After all, we can’t talk about adaptation without talking about what organisms are adapting to.

  2. Posted September 30, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    Well that Darwin book “Travels of a Naturalist” almost made me write a report on “What Hotels can Learn From Darwin’s Travels”. He stayed in a hotel in Argentina where he received the worst possible service.

    • gravelinspector
      Posted October 1, 2012 at 2:22 am | Permalink

      He died in Argentina, sacrificed at the hands of cannibalistic hotel staff in a deistic orgy? Then who was the guy with the badger-sanctuary beard?
      You’ve got some low-life hotels to visit. [GRIN / GRIMACE]

      • Posted October 1, 2012 at 9:19 am | Permalink

        It was the only hotel, and Charles Darwin comments on the “amenities” of the place. I don`t have the volume at hand to reproduce his words.

  3. Marella
    Posted October 1, 2012 at 12:00 am | Permalink

    OMG it’s available on Kindle, yay!

  4. Nineteenfifteen
    Posted October 1, 2012 at 12:16 am | Permalink

    Check out permaculture :)

  5. Dominic
    Posted October 1, 2012 at 1:54 am | Permalink

    Looks every interesting – & I love the cover image. Not cheap!

  6. Ludo
    Posted October 1, 2012 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    Interesting photograph of Mikl.-Maklai and Haeckel! I have seen more of such meticulously posed photographs – but only this one with a barefooted Haeckel, ready for a walk along a seaside (?). I would appreciate it very much if somebody could provide me with more data about this genre of portraits – “Victorian explorers posing in studio’s”. All information is welcome: photographs, articles, books maybe – and possibly also names of photographers? Thanks!

  7. Posted October 1, 2012 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Looks great! Another book to add to my wish list of great science books to buy as soon as I conquer grad school, grow up, and get a real job…

  8. Posted October 1, 2012 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    Looks interesting!

    Is Eugen Warming covered under the Plant Physiology section?


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