Quick blog post: interesting piece on the evolution of ecology by Simon Levin

There is a very interesting piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education by Simon Levin on the “Evolution of Ecology.”

See The Evolution of Ecology – The Chronicle Review – The Chronicle of Higher Education

In it Simon, who I consider both a friend and colleague and who has been an inspiration to me for much of my work, discusses the history of the concept and the field of ecology. He repeats a key phrase he has used elsewhere:

Ecology, the unifying science in integrating knowledge of life on our planet, has become the essential science in learning how to preserve it.

I like this phrase and plan to use it a bit here and there, with attribution of course.
Levin also discusses how Darwin’s Voyage of the Beagle helped launch the field of ecology because it

defined a new and synthetic way of looking at nature—in which the patterns characteristic of particular regions found explanation in a unifying, dynamic framework

It was only after Voyage of the Beagle and Wallace’s work and others that the term “oekologie” came into being.
I particularly like the end where he connects ecology to study of other complex adaptive systems like economic ones and medical ones.
The article is really really really worth a read.

Author: Jonathan Eisen

I am an evolutionary biologist and a Professor at U. C. Davis. (see my lab site here). My research focuses on the origin of novelty (how new processes and functions originate). To study this I focus on sequencing and analyzing genomes of organisms, especially microbes and using phylogenomic analysis

One thought on “Quick blog post: interesting piece on the evolution of ecology by Simon Levin”

  1. Interesting fact about the word “ecology”, or the charming Victorian spelling “oekologie” — it comes from the same Greek word as “economics” — “οἶκος”, meaning “house”.


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