The Cycle of Life:
An History of Experimental Ecology

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Sharon Kingsland, "Foundational Papers: Defining Ecology as a Science," in Foundations of Ecology (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991), eds. Leslie A. Real and James H. Brown, pp. 1-13.

Sharon Kingsland introduced this volume of classic works in ecology by tracing "the origins of ecology as a science" to "the application of experimental and mathematical methods to the analysis of organism-environment realtions community structure and succession, and population dynamics." Although she too places her discussion in a strong Darwinian context, Kingsland (one of my Ph.D. thesis advisors) stressed and expanded on the physiological aspects of this history. For late-19th and early 20th century botanists, such as Stephen A. Forbes (1844-1930), Henry Chandler Cowles (1869-1939) and Frederick Clements (1874-1945), the ecologist was a kind of "outdoor physiologist." They studied adaptation and community evolution in the field using the same rigorous methods physiologists employed in the laboratory.

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