The history of ecology can be seen as moving through several historical phases, each with differing assumptions about nature and the human ethical relationship toward it. Human ecology incorporates humans into nature and adapts to nature's limits; organismic ecology views humans as separate from nature, but as followers of its balanced, homeostatic processes; economic ecology asserts humans as scientific managers of a nature that can be controlled for human benefit; finally, chaotic ecology sees nature as having unpredictable characteristics, leaving humans as only partially able to manage its systems. Nature is thus far more complex than previously considered, and is best described as a disorderly order, rather than a harmonious balance.


1. Ernst Haeckel, Generelle Morphologie der Organismen (Berlin: Reimer, 1866), 2:286-87. English translation in Robert C. Stauffer, "Haeckel, Darwin, and Ecology," Quarterly Review of Biology (1957) 32: 138-44, at 140, 141.

2. Haeckel, Generelle Morphologie, 2:286-87.

3. Haeckel, "Ueber Entwickelungsgang und Aufgabe der Zoologie, in Gesammelte populäre Vorträge aus dem Gebiete der Entwickelungslehre" (January 1869), 17; English translation in Stauffer, "Haeckel, Darwin, and Ecology," 141.

4. Ernst Haeckel, The History of Creation, or the Development of the Earth and Its Inhabitants by the Action of Natural Causes, translation revised by E. Ray Lankester (London: Henry S. King, 1876 [1873]), 1:xiv; 2:354, italics in original.

5. Ernst Haeckel, The Evolution of Man: A Popular Exposition of the Principal Points of Human Ontogeny and Phylogeny (New York: D. Appleton, 1879), 1:114.

6. Robert Clarke, Ellen Swallow: The Woman Who Founded Ecology (Chicago: Follette, 1973), 39-40.

7. Robert P. Mcintosh, The Background of Ecology: Concept and Theory (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 20.

9. Ellen Swallow Richards, Sanitation in Daily Life (Boston: Whitcomb and Barrows, 1910 [1907]), v.

10. Donald Worster, Nature's Economy: A History of Ecological Ideas, 2d ed. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 209.

11. Frederic Clements, Plant Succession: An Analysis of the Development of Vegetation (Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Institution of Washington, 1916), 124-25.

13. Ronald Tobey, Saving the Prairies: The Life Cycle of the Founding School of Plant Ecology, 1895-1955 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981), 207.

14. Gregg Mitman, The State of Nature: Ecology, Community, and American Social Thought, 1900-1950, 3; on T. H. Huxley's lecture "Evolution and Ethics" (1893), see 2.

16. Worster, Nature's Economy, 311.

17. Henry Gleason, "The Individualistic Concept of the Plant Association," Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 23 (1926): 26.

18. Kenneth Watt, Ecology and Resource Management: A Quantitative Approach (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1968), 54-56.

19. Donald Worster, "Ecology of Order and Chaos," Environmental History Review 14, no. 1-2 (Spring/Summer 1990): 4-16, at 8, emphasis in original.

20. S. T. A. Pickett and P. S. White, The Ecology of Natural Disturbance and Patch Dynamics (Orlando, Fla.: Academic, 1985), xiii, 5, 12.

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