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Ecology, like the word economy, has its roots in the Greek word for “house.” That Greek root was forged by the biologist Ernst Haeckel into the German Ökologie in the 1860s. Literally, “ecology” means “the study of the house,” in this case the house that is the home we call the planet Earth. Haeckle’s thumbnail definition of the discipline, “the whole science of the relations of the organism to the environment,” still works.

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Ecological concerns may have first gained a critical mass of reception in the 1960s, but the academy was there before the modern environmental movement. This year, the professional association of ecological scientists, the Ecological Society of America, celebrates its centennial. Formed at the 1915 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the ESA’s 100th annual meeting will be held in Baltimore, Maryland, starting August 9th.

JSTOR features five of the ESA’s journals in its archives: Bulletin of the ESA, Ecological Applications, Ecological Monographs, Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, and Ecology, which began publication in 1920.

The first issue of the Society’s flagship publication bears celebratory examination. Ecology‘s foreword declares that the pages of the new journal will be “open to all who have material of ecological interest from whatever field of biology.” And that “[t]o approach different subjects from similar points of view is to lay the foundations of cooperation.”

You will also find an article by the founder of dendrochronology, A.E Douglass: “Evidence of Climatic Effects in The Annual Rings of Trees.” A brief “Note on the Ecology of Herons” has W.E. Praeger makes a now common-sense yet still surprisingly little-comprehended statement about the interrelations of all living things: “these complex relations are far reaching and often of decisive importance.”

Indeed, as a species which breathes the waste byproduct of terrestrial and oceanic plant life, we should all concur. On the “home” front since 1915, the Ecological Society of America continues to reveal the connections in what Darwin, following Linnaeus, called the “economy of nature.”


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Ecology, Vol. 1, No. 1 (Jan., 1920), p. 1
Wiley on behalf of the Ecological Society of America