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.