BOOK: Darwin Comes to Town: How the Urban Jungle Drives Evolution

In February I came across an article about a letter written to Darwin in 1878 that discussed the color variation in a species of moth in response to industrial pollution. Turns out this was from the author of a new book all about how the evolution of animal species can be observed within urban areas.

Darwin Comes to Town

Menno Schiltuizen, Darwin Comes to Town: How the Urban Jungle Drives Evolution (New York: Picador/Macmillan, 2018), 304 pp.

Order through Powell’s City of BooksOrder through Amazon.com

Publisher’s description Menno Schilthuizen is one of a growing number of “urban ecologists” studying how our manmade environments are accelerating and changing the evolution of the animals and plants around us. In Darwin Comes to Town, he takes us around the world for an up-close look at just how stunningly flexible and swift-moving natural selection can be. With human populations growing, we’re having an increasing impact on global ecosystems, and nowhere do these impacts overlap as much as they do in cities. The urban environment is about as extreme as it gets, and the wild animals and plants that live side-by-side with us need to adapt to a whole suite of challenging conditions: they must manage in the city’s hotter climate (the “urban heat island”); they need to be able to live either in the semidesert of the tall, rocky, and cavernous structures we call buildings or in the pocket-like oases of city parks (which pose their own dangers, including smog and free-ranging dogs and cats); traffic causes continuous noise, a mist of fine dust particles, and barriers to movement for any animal that cannot fly or burrow; food sources are mainly human-derived. And yet, as Schilthuizen shows, the wildlife sharing these spaces with us is not just surviving, but evolving ways of thriving. Darwin Comes to Town draws on eye-popping examples of adaptation to share a stunning vision of urban evolution in which humans and wildlife co-exist in a unique harmony. It reveals that evolution can happen far more rapidly than Darwin dreamed, while providing a glimmer of hope that our race toward over population might not take the rest of nature down with us.

Read reviews from NPR Books, Kirkus Reviews, Publisher’s Weekly, Financial Times, and interviews with the author from Scientific Inquirer and Chicago Book Review. Schilthuizen also appeared on CBS This Morning and in conversation with Isabella Rossellini.

BOOK: The Darwin Archipelago: The Naturalist’s Career Beyond Origin of Species

The Darwin Archipelago: The Naturalist’s Career Beyond Origin of Species, by Steve Jones (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2011), 248 pp.

Charles Darwin is of course best known for The Voyage of the Beagle and The Origin of Species. But he produced many other books over his long career, exploring specific aspects of the theory of evolution by natural selection in greater depth. The eminent evolutionary biologist Steve Jones uses these lesser-known works as springboards to examine how their essential ideas have generated whole fields of modern biology.

Earthworms helped found modern soil science, Expression of the Emotions helped found comparative psychology, and Self-Fertilization and Forms of Flowers were important early works on the origin of sex. Through this delightful introduction to Darwin’s oeuvre, one begins to see Darwin’s role in biology as resembling Einstein’s in physics: he didn’t have one brilliant idea but many and in fact made some seminal contribution to practically every field of evolutionary study. Though these lesser-known works may seem disconnected, Jones points out that they all share a common theme: the power of small means over time to produce gigantic ends. Called a “world of wonders” by the Times of London, The Darwin Archipelago will expand any reader’s view of Darwin’s genius and will demonstrate how all of biology, like life itself, descends from a common ancestor.

The National Center for Science Education has a free preview of The Darwin Archipelago: The Naturalist’s Career Beyond Origin of Species, here.

ARTICLE: Unearthening Old Data: Darwin was Indeed Correct About Earthworm Behavior

From Evolution: Education and Outreach:

Unearthening Old Data: Darwin was Indeed Correct About Earthworm Behavior

Judith Korb and Volker Salewski

Abstract Charles Darwin is well known for his studies on the expression of emotions in animals and humans and as founding father of the concept of sexual selection. Yet it is commonly believed that the various arguments Darwin developed about behavior were usually illustrated only by anecdotes and observations recounted by explorers, naturalists, or zookeepers, and lacking any experimental approach. Here we show that this is not true. In his last book, The Formation of Vegetable Mould Through the Action of Worms (1881), Darwin mentions a series of meticulous experiments he ran to test his hypotheses about why earthworms plug their burrows and comes to the conclusion that earthworms seem to act in an intelligent way. His study can still function as a prime example of how to design an experiment for testing hypotheses. Only one part was missing in Darwin’s research: statistical analyses. We retrieved his data and analyzed them statistically. Based on these results, we cannot reject his conclusion as the statistical analyses confirmed Darwin was right. This shows that Charles Darwin already used a hypothetico-deductive approach, and he can thus be seen as the first true behavioral ecologist—a representative of a discipline that has been recognized for only about a hundred years.

Update on “A History of the Ecological Sciences”

Over two-and-a-half years ago I posted the links to a series of articles in the Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America: “A History of the Ecological Sciences.” Then there were 27 installments, all by Frank N. Egerton, and now he’s up to #36 (Update: I added #37-42 on July 30, 2012):

1. A History of the Ecological Sciences. Early Greek Origins. Volume 82(1): 93–97. January 2001

2. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 2: Aristotle and Theophrastos. Volume 82(2):149–152. April 2001

3. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 3: Hellenistic Natural History. Volume 82(3):201–205. July 2001

4. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 4: Roman Natural History. Volume 82(4):243–246. October 2001

5. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 5: Byzantine Natural History. Volume 83(1):89–94. January 2002

6. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 6: Arabic Language Science—Origins and Zoological Writings. Volume 83(2):142–146. April 2002

7. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 7: Arabic Language Science—Botany, Geography, and Decline. Volume 83(4):261–266. October 2002

8. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 8: Fredrick II of Hohenstaufen: Amateur Avian Ecologist and Behaviorist. Volume 84(1):40–44. January 2003

9. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 9: Albertus Magnus, a Scholastic Naturalist. Volume 84(2):87–91. April 2003

10. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 10: Botany During the Renaissance and the Beginnings of the Scientific Revolution. Volume 84(3):130–137. July 2003

11. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 11: Emergence of Vertebrate Zoology During the 1500s. Volume 84(4):206–212. October 2003

12. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 12: Invertebrate Zoology and Parasitology During the 1500s. Volume 85(1):27–31. January 2004

13. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 13: Broadening Science in Italy and England, 1600–1650. Volume 85(3):110–119. July 2004

14. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 14: Plant Growth Studies in the 1600s. Volume 85(4):208–213. October 2004

15. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 15: The Precocious Origins of Human and Animal Demography and Statistics in the 1600s. Volume 86(1):32–38. January 2005

16. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 16: Robert Hooke and the Royal Society of London. Volume 86(2):93–101. April 2005

17. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 17: Invertebrate Zoology and Parasitology During the 1600s. Volume 86(3):133–144. July 2005

18. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 18: John Ray and His Associates Francis Willughby and William Derham. Volume 86(4):301–313. October 2005

19. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 19: Leeuwenhoek’s Microscopic Natural History. Volume 87(1):47–58. January 2006

20. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 20: Richard Bradley, Entrepreneurial Naturalist. Volume 87(2):117–127. April 2006

21. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 21: Réaumur and His History of Insects. Volume 87(3):212–224. July 2006

22. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 22: Early European Naturalists in Eastern North America. Volume 87(4):341–356. October 2006

23. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 23: Linnaeus and the Economy of Nature. Volume 88(1):72–88. January 2007

24. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 24: Buffon and Environmental Influences on Animals. Volume 88(2):146–159. April 2007

25. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 25:American Naturalists Explore Eastern North America: John and William Bartram. Volume 88(3):253–268. July 2007

26. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 26. Gilbert White, Naturalist Extrordinaire. Volume 88(4):385–398. October 2007.

27. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 27: Naturalists Explore Russia and the North Pacific During the 1700s. Volume 89(1):39–60. January 2008

28. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 28: Plant Growth Studies During the 1700s. Volume 89(2);159–175. April 2008

29. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 29: Plant Disease Studies During the 1700s. Volume 89(3). July 2008

30. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 30: Invertebrate Zoology and Parasitology During the 1700s. Volume 89(4). October 2008.

31. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 31: Studies of Animal Populations During the 1700s. Volume 90(2). April 2009.

32. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 32: Humboldt, Nature’s Geographer. Volume 90(3). July 2009.

33. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 33: Naturalists Explore North America, mid-1780s–mid-1820s. Volume 90(4). October 2009.

34. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 34: A Changing Economy of Nature.Volume 91(1). January 2009.

35. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 35: The Beginnings of British Marine Biology: Edward Forbes and Philip Gosse. Volume 91(2). April 2010.

36. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 36: Hewett Watson, Plant Geographer and Evolutionist. Volume 91(3). July 2010.

37. A History of Ecological Sciences, Part 37: Charles Darwin’s Voyage on the Beagle. Volume91(4), October 2010.

38a. A History of Ecological Sciences, Part 38A: Naturalists Explore North America, mid-1820s to about 1840. Volume 92(1), January 2011.

38b. A History of Ecological Sciences, Part 38B: Naturalists Explore North America, 1838–1850s. Volume 92(2), April 2011.

39. A History of Ecological Sciences, Part 39: Henry David Thoreau, Ecologist. Volume 92(3), July 2011.

40. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 40: Darwin’s Evolutionary Ecology. Volume 92(4), October 2011.

41. A History of Ecological Sciences, Part 41: Victorian Naturalists in Amazonia—Wallace, Bates, Spruce. Volume 93(1), January 2012.

42. A History of Ecological Sciences, Part 42: Victorian Naturalists Abroad—Hooker, Huxley, Wallace. Volume 93(2), April 2012.

A thought for Earth Day

A thought for Earth Day:

When we behold a wide, turf-covered expanse, we should remember that its smoothness, on which so much of its beauty depends, is mainly due to all the inequalities having been slowly levelled by worms. It is a marvellous reflection that the whole of the superficial mould over any such expanse has passed, and will again pass, every few years through the bodies of worms. The plough is one of the most ancient and most valuable of mans inventions; but long before he existed the land was in fact regularly ploughed, and still continues to be thus ploughed by earth-worms.



Charles Darwin, The formation of vegetable mould, through the action of worms, with observations on their habits (1881)

I wrote before about my son:

He will learn about evolution and how humans are not the epitomy of creation but just one (and yes we are unique, but so are all other organisms) animal in the tree of life. This is not indoctrinating a young mind, as some might suggest. Rather, it is teaching a young mind about his place in a world that could get along just fine without him. Earth is not ours for the taking, but ours for the caring.

Patrick in May 2008:

Patrick_worm

Worms, which to Darwin "have played a more important part in the history of the world than most persons would at first suppose"

ARTICLE: Four Darwinian themes on the origin, evolution and preservation of island life

In the Journal of Biogeography:

Four Darwinian themes on the origin, evolution and preservation of island life

Mark V. Lomolino

Abstract Charles Darwin’s observations and insights continue to inspire nearly all scientists who are captivated by both the marvels and the perils of island life. Here I feature four themes inspired by Darwin’s singular insights: themes that may continue to provide valuable lessons for understanding the ecological and evolutionary development of insular biotas, and for conserving the natural character and evolutionary potential of all species restricted to isolated ecosystems (natural or anthropogenic).

Also in the Journal of Biogeography:

Darwin’s Galapagos gourd: providing new insights 175 years after his visit

Patrizia Sebastian, Hanno Schaefer and Susanne S. Renner

Abstract The year 2010 marks the 175th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s visit to the Galapagos Islands. A recent paper by J. C. Briggs, ‘Darwin’s biogeography’ (Journal of Biogeography, 2009, 36, 1011–1017), summarizes Darwin’s contributions to the field of biogeography, stressing the importance of his natural history specimens. Here, we illustrate how a plant collected by Darwin during his visit to Floreana and not collected since can provide insights into dispersal to oceanic islands as well as extinction of island plants, based on ancient DNA from Darwin’s herbarium specimen.

Two new sections on the Darwin Correspondence Project website

From the Darwin Correspondence Project website:

Darwin and ecology
The introduction to the Darwin and ecology section considers ways of viewing what ecology was in a time before the word was coined; it reveals how Darwinian theory changed not only how naturalists thought about the world but also how they then investigated the complex relationships among species in the struggle for existence. A number of specific topics related to Darwin and ecology will be examined in articles to be made available in this section. The first of these articles, Beauty and the seed, looks at a fascinating puzzle that Darwin wrote about to a correspondent in Brazil; a puzzle that has only now started to be solved by ecologists working in the same country.

Teaching resources
We have also made available a series of teaching resources about Darwin’s correspondence, suitable for use in science, history, religion, gender studies or literature classes.
Darwin’s letters make excellent sources for teaching in a wide variety of subjects. Short letter-sets have been prepared on various topics, such as species theory, beauty, class and gender relations, friendship, and scientific controversy. These materials, together with a brief introduction, discussion questions, and a list of further reading, are now available on the Darwin Project website.

Today in Science History: a bunch of botanists were born or died

From Today in Science History:

George Bentham (Born 22 Sep 1800; died 10 Sep 1844). British botanist whose classification of seed plants (Spermatophyta), based on an exhaustive study of all known species, served as a foundation for modern systems of vascular plant taxonomy. Sir William Hooker, invited him to establish permanent quarters at Kew gardens, where Bentham participated in the Gardens’ definitive survey of floras of the British colonies and possessions, for which he prepared the Flora Hongkongensis (1861) and the Flora Australiensis (7 vol., 1863-78), cataloging and describing more than 7,000 species. Collaborating with Hooker’s son Sir Joseph, Bentham spent 27 years in research and examination of specimens for the work Genera Plantarum (3 vol., 1862-83), which covered 200 “orders” of 7,569 genera, and 97,200 species.

Michael Faraday (Born 22 Sep 1791; died 25 Aug 1867). English physicist and chemist whose many experiments contributed greatly to the understanding of electromagnetism. Although one of the greatest experimentalists, he was largely self-educated. Appointed by Sir Humphry Davy as his assistant at the Royal Institution, Faraday initially concentrated on analytical chemistry, and discovered benzene in 1825. His most important work was in electromagnetism, in which field he demonstrated electromagnetic rotation and discovered electromagnetic induction (the key to the development of the electric dynamo and motor). He also discovered diamagnetism and the laws of electrolysis. He published pioneering papers that led to the practical use of electricity, and he advocated the use of electric light in lighthouses.

Christian Konrad Sprengel (Born 22 Sep 1750; died 7 Apr 1816). German botanist and teacher whose studies of sex in plants led him to a general theory of fertilization which, basically, is accepted today. Although director of a school at Spandau and tutor in Berlin, he devoted himself chiefly to the study of flowering plants. Sprengel’s 1793 treatise on floral structure examines the ways that flower colors, scents, shapes, and markings work harmoniously to attract insects for pollination. A clergyman and botanist, he spent his life researching the role played by the wind and insects in the fertilization of flowers. Although Sprengel’s work was neglected by his contemporaries, Charles Darwin later praised Sprengel’s work and brought it brought to public attention.

Peter Simon Pallas (Born 22 Sep 1741; died 8 Sep 1811). German naturalist who was a pioneer in zoogeography by going beyond merely cataloging specimens with simple descriptions, but included observations of causal relationships between animals and their environment. He looked for hidden regularities in natural phenomena over an extreme range of habitats. His extensive field studies made on expeditions in Russia resulted in records of hundreds of species of animals and plants together with commentary on the interrelationships among them and their environment, and careful notes on the areas of distribution and boundaries. This work was a precursor to theories of evolution. He was first to theorise that mountain formation resulted from volcanic processes causing uplifts and receding seas.

Merritt Lyndon Fernald (Died 22 Sep 1950; born 5 Oct 1873). American botanist noted for his comprehensive study of the flora of the northeastern United States. In Feb 1891, Fernald was offered a position at the Gray Herbarium of Harvard University that would allow him to work and study part-time at Harvard. He remained at the Gray Herbarium in one capacity or another for the rest of his life, beginning as an assistant, going on to be a professor, eventually as curator of the Gray Herbarium, 1935-37, and director, 1937-1947. Fernald is known for his work on phytogeography. He combined extensive field work with his herbarium work, concentrating on the flora of eastern North America. He did much exploring in Quebec in his younger years; when older, he worked in Virginia.

Florence Augusta Merriam Bailey (Died 22 Sep 1948; born 8 Aug 1863). American ornithologist and author of popular field guides. She preceded Ludlow Griscom in calling for the use of binoculars instead of shotguns when birding. By 1885, she began to write articles focusing on protecting birds. She was horrified by the fashion trend which not only used feathers, but entire birds to decorate women’s hats. Five million birds a year were killed to supply this fashion craze. At age 26, Bailey collected and developed the series of articles she had written for the Audubon Magazine into her first book, Birds Through an Opera Glass, (1889). Altogether she published about 100 articles, mostly for ornithological magazines, and 10 books. including the Handbook of Birds of the Western United States (1902) and Birds of New Mexico (1928).

John Bartram (Died 22 Sep 1777; born 23 Mar 1699). American explorer who is also regarded as the father of American botany, a subject he self-taught from the age of ten. He made a systematic study of healing plants. In 1728, Bartram bought land beside the Schuylkill River at Kingsessing, outside Philadelphia, created Bartram’s Garden, and began likely the first experiments in hybridizing in America. (His Garden now forms part of Philadelphia’s small park system – the oldest living botanical garden in the U.S. – where many giant trees may still be seen that he planted.) He travelled widely to gather ripe seeds, roots and bulbs in proper condition for transplanting. Shipping many species to introduce in Europe developed into a business. His son William Bartram followed him as a naturalist.

Today in Science History

From Today in Science History:

Peter Simon Pallas (Died 8 Sep 1811; born 22 Sep 1741). German naturalist who was a pioneer in zoogeography by going beyond merely cataloging specimens with simple descriptions, but included observations of causal relationships between animals and their environment. He looked for hidden regularities in natural phenomena over an extreme range of habitats. His extensive field studies made on expeditions in Russia resulted in records of hundreds of species of animals and plants together with commentary on the interrelationships among them and their environment, and careful notes on the areas of distribution and boundaries. This work was a precursor to theories of evolution. He was first to theorise that mountain formation resulted from volcanic processes causing uplifts and receding seas.

Today in Science History

From Today in Science History:

Ernst Haeckel (Died 9 Aug 1919, Born 16 Feb 1834). German biologist who separated the animal kingdom into unicellar and multicellular organisms, and was an enthusiastic supporter of Darwin‘s theories. He led numerous scientific expeditions, and cataloged 4,000 new species of lower marine animals. However, he held an erroneous concept, popularized an expression, “Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny,” (meaning that he supposed any animal embryo progresses through all previous evolutionary stages as it develops) which he based on the striking resemblance of the early embryos of many early vertibrate embryos. Such interpretation may not have lasted, but he nevertheless stimulated enquiry. He coined many words used by biologists today, such as ecology, phylum and phylogeny.

Playing Chess with Pigeons: Darwin’s embryo drawings flawed? (on Haeckel’s embryos)

A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 28: Plant Growth Studies During the 1700s

The latest addition to an ongoing article series in the ESA Bulletin, “A History of the Ecological Sciences,” previously mentioned on this blog:

28. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 28: Plant Growth Studies During the 1700s. Volume 89(2);159–175. April 2008

The other 27 are freely available here.

Today in Science History

From Today in Science History:

William J. Hamilton (Died 27 Jul 1990; born 11 Dec 1902). William J(ohn) Hamilton, Jr. was an American mammalogist and environmentalist who stressed the vital ecological role of predators and the importance of conserving fur-bearing populations. His interest in plants and animals began in childhood, and working while a teenager for three summers for Daniel C. Beard (a naturalist, artist, and cofounder of the Boy Scouts of America). Hamilton’s research dealt with mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and horticulture, with a major interest was in life histories and ecology. He wrote books, including American Mammals (1939), and over 200 papers. He also made some pioneering studies of microtine life cycles.

Salim Ali (Died 27 Jul 1987; born 12 Nov 1896). Indian ornithologist, the “birdman of India,” who championed conservation of India’s biological diversity. His fieldwork provided scientific guidance for the Indian government’s conservation efforts. His love of birds began at age 10, when he began writing his observations. Eventually, he undertook professional education in ornithology. In 1930 he began a bird survey of Hyderabad State. By 1976, he had published several popular regional field guides of Indian birds for which he is famous. These surveys were based on extensive travels throughout India and Pakistan. The title of his autobiography “The Fall of a Sparrow” (1987) recalls the first sparrow that drew his interest as a boy.

Today in Science History

From Today in Science History:

Carl R. Woese (Born 15 Jul 1928). American microbiologist who recognized the existance of the organisms Archaea as a third domain of life, distinct from the previously recognized two domains of bacteria, and life other than bacteria. On 2 Nov 1977, his identification of methanogens, a form of life dating back some 3.5 billion years, was reported from the University of Illinois. Woese had long studied the evolutionary track of DNA and RNA. In 1976, he was approached by his colleague Ralph Wolfe, who presented a group of methane producing organisms. Woese studied their RNA and recognized their lack of the entire oligonucleotide sequences. Methanogens are found in oxygen-deficient environments, and mostly obtain their energy by reducing CO2 and oxidizing hydrogen, and releasing methane.

Gavin Maxwell (Born 15 Jul 1914; died 7 Sep 1969). Scottish naturalist and author best known for his book Ring of Bright Water (1960), the story of his life in the western Highlands of Scotland with two pet otters. In 1945, he bought the small Hebridean island of Soay, to create a shark fishery there, but his effort was undercapitalized and failed. He found the sharks elusive, difficult to land in a small boat and he underestimated the refrigeration capacity for storage. However, the experience became the source for his book Harpoon Venture (1952). His later enterprises included encouraging Eider Ducks to breed on the small island of Eilean Dudh so that the down from their nests could be harvested, and establishing a collection of wild animals indigenous to Scotland to create a private zoo.

Lee Raymond Dice (Born 15 Jul 1887; died 31 Jan 1977). American zoologist, geneticist and ecologist who introduced biotic provinces to characterize areas of continuous ecological similarity in climate, soils, and topography. He investigated geographical and ecological distribution pertaining to plants and animals in fieldwork throughout the Southwest and Mexico in the 1920s and 30s. When he found C. Hart Merriam’s idea of life zones to be inadequate for modeling distribution patterns, he developed his concept of biotic provinces. Dice demonstrated their application in his book, The Biotic Provinces of North America (1943). He is also known for his derivation of the Dice index, a similarity coefficient used to measure degree of association between biotic samples.

John Wilson (Died 15 Jul 1751; born 1696). English botanist who was the first writer that attempted a systematic arrangement of English indigenous plants in the English language, which he published in Synopsis of British Plants (1744). Wilson was self-taught in botany, and built on the method of Ray, which he had to read in Latin. Wilson preferred to write plainly, in English, recording his finds made on frequent trips into the local countryside. His systematic studies did much to bring some order and place the science on the broad scientific basis. He died at age 55, before finishing a second volume intended to contain the fungi, mosses, grasses, and trees. Wilson remains little known because his book was eclipsed by the writings of Linnæus that became popular shortly after his death.

Today in Science History

Born this day:

Henry Chandler Cowles (Born 27 Feb 1869; died 12 Sep 1939). American botanist who was a pioneer in the field of plant ecology, especially the concept of dynamic ecology, which he devised in the 1890’s through a study of sand dune vegation at the southern end of Lake Michigan. He observed ecological succession, whereby starting with a bare habitat, there is a sequence of biological communities, each providing modification of the habitat to favour successors, until a climax community is established, characteristic of the climatic conditions of the region. His field work there showed that the vegetation at any one point in the system is related to the distance the point lies from the lake, the kind of soil present at the location, and the time period over which seeds and spores have had a chance to germinate.

Died this day:

Konrad Lorenz (Died 27 Feb 1989; born 7 Nov 1903). Austrian zoologist, founder of modern ethology, the study of animal behaviour by means of comparative zoological methods. He was known affectionately by his pupils as the “father of the grey geese” which he studied. His ideas revealed how behavioral patterns may be traced to an evolutionary past, and he was also known for his work on the roots of aggression. He shared the 1973 Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine, for developing a unified, evolutionary theory of animal and human behaviour. He was also a vehement environmentalist, criticizing prodigality and believed that nature protection is necessary for the preservation of humanity. Even late in life, he participated in demonstrations even if in conflict with government and authorities.

Adam Sedgwick (Died 27 Feb 1913; born 28 Sep 1854). English zoologist, a grandnephew of the geologist Adam Sedgwick, who is best known for his researches on the wormlike organism Peripatus, which he recognized as the zoologically important connecting link between the Annelida, or segmented worms, and the Arthropoda, such as crabs, spiders, and insects.

ESA Bulletin Series: "A History of the Ecological Sciences"

Thanks to Kevin of The Other 95% for pointing me to this series of articles from the Ecological Society of America’s Bulletin. Up to its 27th installment, “A History of the Ecological Sciences” covers natural history topics from antiquity through the 19th century. It remains a current project from Frank N. Egerton, a retired historian from the University of Wisconsin who has written extensively on the history of ecology, including History of American Ecology (1978) and Hewett Cottrell Watson: Victorian Plant Ecologist and Evolutionist (2003). ESA has made a convenient page for finding all the articles at once, but here are the links as well:

1. A History of the Ecological Sciences. Early Greek Origins. Volume 82(1): 93–97. January 2001
2. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 2: Aristotle and Theophrastos. Volume 82(2):149–152. April 2001
3. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 3: Hellenistic Natural History. Volume 82(3):201–205. July 2001
4. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 4: Roman Natural History. Volume 82(4):243–246. October 2001
5. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 5: Byzantine Natural History. Volume 83(1):89–94. January 2002
6. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 6: Arabic Language Science—Origins and Zoological Writings. Volume 83(2):142–146. April 2002
7. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 7: Arabic Language Science—Botany, Geography, and Decline. Volume 83(4):261–266. October 2002
8. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 8: Fredrick II of Hohenstaufen: Amateur Avian Ecologist and Behaviorist. Volume 84(1):40–44. January 2003
9. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 9: Albertus Magnus, a Scholastic Naturalist. Volume 84(2):87–91. April 2003
10. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 10: Botany During the Renaissance and the Beginnings of the Scientific Revolution. Volume 84(3):130–137. July 2003
11. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 11: Emergence of Vertebrate Zoology During the 1500s. Volume 84(4):206–212. October 2003
12. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 12: Invertebrate Zoology and Parasitology During the 1500s. Volume 85(1):27–31. January 2004
13. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 13: Broadening Science in Italy and England, 1600–1650. Volume 85(3):110–119. July 2004
14. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 14: Plant Growth Studies in the 1600s. Volume 85(4):208–213. October 2004
15. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 15: The Precocious Origins of Human and Animal Demography and Statistics in the 1600s. Volume 86(1):32–38. January 2005
16. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 16: Robert Hooke and the Royal Society of London. Volume 86(2):93–101. April 2005
17. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 17: Invertebrate Zoology and Parasitology During the 1600s. Volume 86(3):133–144. July 2005
18. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 18: John Ray and His Associates Francis Willughby and William Derham. Volume 86(4):301–313. October 2005
19. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 19: Leeuwenhoek’s Microscopic Natural History. Volume 87(1):47–58. January 2006
20. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 20: Richard Bradley, Entrepreneurial Naturalist. Volume 87(2):117–127. April 2006
21. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 21: Réaumur and His History of Insects. Volume 87(3):212–224. July 2006
22. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 22: Early European Naturalists in Eastern North America. Volume 87(4):341–356. October 2006
23. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 23: Linnaeus and the Economy of Nature. Volume 88(1):72–88. January 2007
24. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 24: Buffon and Environmental Influences on Animals. Volume 88(2):146–159. April 2007
25. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 25:American Naturalists Explore Eastern North America: John and William Bartram. Volume 88(3):253–268. July 2007
26. A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 26. Gilbert White, Naturalist Extrordinaire. Volume 88(4):385–398. October 2007

and

Today in Science History

Born this day:

David Starr Jordan (Born 19 Jan 1851; died 19 Sep 1931). American naturalist, educator, and the foremost American ichthyologist of his time. Jordan was a renowned expert in many fields. For example, he served as an expert witness on the validity of the theory of evolution at the Scopes trial in Tennessee. He was known for his work in education, philosophy, and as a peace activist. He often approached the subject of peace from a biological angle, arguing that war was detrimental to the health of the species because it removed the strongest individuals from the gene pool. Although he campaigned vigorously against US involvement in World War I, once war was declared, he advocated aggressive measures to end the conflict quickly.

Died this day:

Heinrich Anton de Bary (Died 19 Jan 1888; born 26 Jan 1831). German botanist, a founder of modern mycology and plant pathology for his research into the roles of fungi and other agents in causing plant diseases. He determined the life cycles of many fungi, for which he developed a classification that has been retained in large part by modern mycologists. Among the first to study host-parasite interactions, and ways in which fungi penetrate host tissues, in 1853, he asserted that fungi cause rust and smut diseases of plants. In 1865 he proved that the life cycle of wheat rust involves two hosts, wheat and barberry. De Bary was the first to show (1866) that lichens consist of a fungus and an alga in intimate association. He coined “symbiosis” (1879) to mean a mutually beneficial partnership between two organisms.