The Cycle of Life:
An History of Experimental Ecology

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Donald Worster, Nature's Economy: The Roots of Ecology (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1977).

Worster's Nature's Economy is a wide-ranging investigation of ecology's past. It traces the origins of the concept, discusses the thinkers who have shaped it, and shows how it in turn has shaped the modern perception of our place in nature. The book includes portraits of Linnaeus, Gilbert White, Darwin, Thoreau, and such key twentieth-century ecologists as Rachel Carson, Frederic Clements, Aldo Leopold, James Lovelock, and Eugene Odum. Like most historians, Worster portrayed the history of ecology through the window of Darwinian evolutionary theory. The contributions of 18th century scientists such as Linnaeus are important primarily because they inform the synthesis of charles Darwin's work with natural history. This history ignores the impact thermodynamic sciences like plant physiology and microbiology had on ecological thought and science.

Lloyd Ackert
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