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Man has always had the need to understand the environment that surrounds him; especially in the entire period prior to the Industrial Revolution, when the majority of the population lived in rural areas, understanding the interactions of organisms among themselves and with their environment could make a great difference in people's lives. We all know superstitions and sayings that try to explain the climate, life cycles and a long etcetera. However, if we want to know the relationships that exist in the natural world, we must pay attention to science, and in particular to ecology. At Ecologista Verde we offer you the opportunity to learn more about the history of ecology.

Historical background of ecology: its precursors

We started talking about historical background of ecology and the most relevant precursors. The history of ecology it begins with the first civilizations and the first philosophers. Philosophers Hippocrates and Aristotle laid the foundations of modern biology, with Hippocrates more focused on medical issues and Aristotle on the natural History.

Aristotle dealt with describing and classifying a huge number of living organisms, including both animals and plants, as well as trying to explain other phenomena such as fertilization, the development of embryos, the soul (or what gives life to beings living) or the origin of life. The body of knowledge issued by Aristotle was not only tremendously broad, but it also laid the foundations for the systematic study of living beings and nature.

What is ecology - concept and definition

The concept of "ecology" derives etymologically from the Greek oikos (House and logos (science, study). It is surprising that the term refers to "study of our house", understanding that nature is our home and we are part of it. It was coined by the scholar Ernst haeckel in 1869, who understood ecology as the study of the relationship of living beings with the environment that surrounds them. Currently the term has been expanded. Thus, the definition of ecology encompasses not only the relationships that living beings establish with their environment, but also the relationships they forge between them.

You can expand this information, we advise you to read these other articles by Green Ecologist on the Definition of ecology and on the Differences between ecology and environment.

Origin of ecology: the first scientific studies

Here we present the origin of ecology through the contributions that some important authors made to the body of ecological knowledge, not so much from the point of view of philosophy, but through a more systematic study:

  • Buffon (1756): considers the populations of human beings and other living beings, such as animals or plants, as subject to the same phenomena.
  • Alexander von Humboldt (1800-1804): He was a very versatile scholar, who in addition to studying the natural world occupied his efforts in geology and geography. During these years he traveled a large part of Latin America, collecting a large amount of information about its flora, fauna, geology, etc.
  • Malthus (1803): Although Malthus did not initially attempt to explain the natural world, his theories had a profound impact on the understanding of populations. Malthus proposed that the resources of a given space grow arithmetically, while the population of any living being has the potential to grow exponentially. Thus, there is necessarily an imbalance between resources and populations. This concept also helped to form Darwin's Theory of Evolution by natural selection.
  • Forbes (1844): described the distribution of animals in European coastal waters, noting that certain patterns in their distribution were due to the characteristics of the environment.
  • Darwin (1859): The theory of evolution by natural selection had a profound impact on understanding the dynamics of populations, which came to be understood as changing entities and not as static agents.

Types of ecology

Currently, ecology deals with multiple topics related to the natural world, and its studies are published in leading scientific journals, including Nature Y Science. Below we describe some of the most common types of ecology, according to the subject they deal with:

  • Microbial ecology: focused on the relationships between microscopic organisms.
  • Urban ecology and rural ecology: focused on studying the relationships established in these two types of populations.
  • Botanical ecology: focused on the study of the relationships of plants and fungi with each other and with their environment.
  • Paleoecology: seeks to explain the ecosystems of times before ours, which is a very difficult task. If you are interested in the subject, we recommend you read "The Wonderful Life", by Stephen Jay Gould.

Ecology deals with many other important topics and is related to many other sciences: from population genetics to the study of material and energy fluxes, as well as, to mention another example, from the classification of ecosystems to the study of ecosystems. services that they can provide us. Ecology is a multidisciplinary science covering many subjects related to nature.

If you want to learn much more about ecology, we recommend you not to miss these other articles on:

  • What are the branches of ecology and what does each study?
  • What are environmentalists and what do they do?
  • What is environmentalism and its difference with ecology.
  • Famous environmental phrases.

If you want to read more articles similar to History of ecology, we recommend that you enter our category of Other ecology.

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