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Origins, Institutionalization, Paradigms, Ecosystem, Transecology, Complexity, Evolutionary Ecology And Conservation Biology

Ecology is commonly seen as a lineal descendant of traditional natural history extending back to such classical figures as Aristotle, Theophrastus, and Pliny. Notable persons in this tradition include the Swedish botanist, Carl von Linné (Carolus Linnaeus; 1707–1778), who coined the phrase "economy of nature" in 1749. Gilbert White (1720–1793), a British cleric, made astute ecological observations of his parish in The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne (1789). Charles Darwin's (1809–1882) work on evolution, published in 1859, was acknowledged as the stimulus for coinage, in 1866, of the term ecology. Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862), poet and naturalist, in 1860 anticipated a key phenomenon of ecology, and its name, in an article, "The Succession of Forest Trees." In 1864 George Perkins Marsh (1801–1882), an American diplomat, anticipated the environmental crisis that was widely recognized a century later, in his book Man and Nature in America, which described the deleterious impact of humans on the earth.

The ubiquity of such observations was explicit in the observations of the historian Clarence Glacken (1967), who said that ecological theory originated in the design argument of nature and that every thinker from the fifth century B.C.E. to the end of the eighteenth century had something to say about one or more of the ideas about environments. Even this extended attribution omits consideration of the detailed, and commonly insightful, traditional natural history knowledge of nonliterate aboriginal cultures the world around. The premier British ecologist Charles Elton dubbed ecology as scientific natural history in 1927. Increasing recognition of the extended history of ecological insights, anticipating a formal science of ecology, called up the apt term protoecologist (protoecology) in 1983.

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