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The Ecology Forum


On the Term Ecology

Ecology and economy both derive from the greek οίκος (oikos) = house, budget: economy as the law or rule (νόμος, nomos) of budgets and ecology as the science or understanding (λόγος, logos) of budgets.

Sustainability: Hans Carl von Carlowitz

It was in 1713, when Saxon mine inspector Hans Carl von Carlowitz (1645-1714) coined the term of sustainability in a book on tree cultivation, entitled “Sylvicultura oeconomica, oder haußwirthliche Nachricht und Naturmäßige Anweisung zur wilden Baum-Zucht.” The term soon became the guiding principle for a careful handling of forest resources.

Ecology: Ernst Haeckel

The term ecology was coined by Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919), a German zoologist and philosopher, who in 1866 described ecology as the “Lehre vom Naturhaushalte” or “Oeconomie der Natur”, writing, “As ecology we define all science of the interactions of an organism with the surrounding outside world to which, in the broadest sense, we can attribute all ‘conditions of existence’.”

Autecology and Synecology: Carl Schroeter

In 1902, Carl Joseph Schroeter (1855-1939), a pioneer in nature and landscape conservation, coined the terms autecology and synecology. In autecology, the single organism or the species represents the basic element, in population ecology, the basic element is the population, and in synecology, it is the biocoenosis or local community.

Umwelt: Jakob Johann Baron von Uexküll

In 1909, Jakob Johann Baron von Uexküll (1864-1944) introduced the concept “umwelt” into ecology with his book “Umwelt und Innenwelt der Tiere”, in the German literature replacing Haeckels “Außenwelt.” The notion of “Umwelt” for Uexküll comprises all factors and conditions of the organisms’ life.

Ecology in Science and in the General Public

By establishing a permanent ‘Commission’, now ‘Forum’, for ecology in 1985/1986, the Bavarian Academy of Science reacted to the steadily increasing public awareness of the impact of humans on the environment and the need for up-to-date and science-based information on environmental topics.

References and credits:

Wikipedia pages about Hans Carl von Carlowitz, Ernst Haeckel, Carl Schroeter, Jakob Johann Uexküll

Haber, W. 2008. Zwischen Vergangenheit und ungewisser Zukunft. Eine ökologische Standortsbestimmung der Gegenwart. – In: Rundgespräche der Kommission für Ökologie, Band 32. Pfeil, München, S. 149-164.

Images: public domain (Wikipedia)