|Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species,
In 1859, Erasmus Darwin’s famous grandson, Charles, published
one of the world's most influential books. In the Origin, he
introduced the concept of evolution of new species by the process
he called natural selection. Standard historical accounts attribute
the rise of a formal science of ecology in part to Darwin’s
vision of a dynamic competition between organisms for survival.
It is rarely acknowledged that this vision emerged from the
grander view of nature as an economical circulation of matter.
Darwin’s depiction of nature as a plenum of life in which
species filled every possible niche reflects the ideas of his
grandfather’s generation. Thus, Charles Darwin’s
influence on the rise of ecology is two-fold: he did propose
a dynamic method for evolution, but also this method is another
formulation of contemporary views of the thermodynamics of life.