Who is the founder of ecology?

Importance of ecology

Considered the father of geography and ecology, he was the first to speak of man-made climate change, deforestation and other concepts that are so current today. On his 250th birthday, Germany and the American countries he visited between 1799 and 1804 evoke his legacy as a precursor of environmentalism.

Both are a historical vindication of the lost stage of a journey through American lands that laid the foundations of concepts so basic today, but then so unassailable, as geography, ecology, ecosystem or even climate change.

The Guayaquil of the time, a city of some 12,000 inhabitants within the Viceroyalty of New Granada, was where the Prussian researcher synthesized his Geography of Plants scheme, in which he stratified by heights everything he had found about the flora, fauna and mineral world, along with other components such as temperature, pressure and water currents, explains to Efe the Ecuadorian historian Melvin Hoyos.

Eugene p. odum

To review the history of environmental concern, we will start from the beginning: the term ‘ecology’ owes its existence to the German zoologist Ernst Haeckel, and its essence derives from a mixture of biology, geology and evolution.

After the theories and reflections of Lamarck, Charles Lyell, Darwin, J. Liebig, Jules Thurmann, Charles Valentine Riley and F. Alphonse Forel, ecology has been hotly discussed since the 20th century with the advent of the first ecological organizations and journals.

J.S. Burdon Sanderson has also played an important role in alerting us to the importance of the planet. The president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science considered ecology one of the three sciences of biology. The other two are physiology and morphology.

It was not until 1992, in Rio de Janeiro, that representatives from a total of 175 countries met at the Earth Summit to discuss environmental problems and find possible solutions together.

Henry chandler cowles

The term ecology was first used by the German zoologist Ernst Haeckel (1869), however, this science has its origins in other sciences such as biology, geology and evolution among others.

There are important theories in the construction of this field of study, Lamarck with his first theory of evolution, proposed that the environment is in constant transformation, so organisms need to change and make an effort to achieve it, this being a mechanism of evolution and one of the main bases of ecology, taking into account the relationships of organisms and their environment.

On the other hand, not only organisms change and evolve, but also the earth’s crust. The English geologist Charles Lyell found that the earth’s crust is the result of gradual changes throughout the planet’s history. Giving way to the transformation of ecosystems and their functions.

Modern ecology actually had its beginnings with the development of Darwin’s theory of evolution. He observed that the environment is constantly changing, which causes the organisms with the best adaptations to survive by the mechanism of natural selection. He emphasized the importance of the interaction of organisms with their environment.Ecology from Haeckel onwards. Although ecology was born in the 19th century, with the work of Haeckel, ecology began to flourish properly in the 20th century, when the first ecological societies and ecological journals appeared. Haeckel’s definition has been the subject of somewhat different and perhaps more profound interpretations since 1900. For example, the English ecologist Charles Elton defined ecology as the “scientific natural history” concerned with the “sociology and economy of animals”. An American specialist in plant ecology, Frederick Clements, considered ecology to be “the science of the community,” and contemporary American ecologist Eugene Odum has defined it, perhaps too broadly, as “the study of the structure and function of nature.”


The environment is the space in which the life of different organisms develops, favoring their interaction. It contains living beings as well as lifeless elements and others created by the hand of man.

Humboldt is one of the fathers of the science of ecology and one of the first people to describe scientifically how humans had the capacity to irreversibly alter their environment. His and Muir’s story is the story of ecology and environmentalism. A science and a social movement that travel separate paths, but with some points of convergence.

“Ecology is to ecologism what sociology is to socialism,” ironizes Jaume Terradas, Professor of Ecology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, now emeritus and honorary. “Ecologism is a set of activism and political movements, while ecology is a science. What happens is that many ecologists are a bit ecologist, because our knowledge of the relationship between human beings and ecological systems makes us ask for more prudence and more conservation of natural spaces”.