Lecture II - Lecture II Darwin's Ecology and Evolution...

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Lecture II – Darwin's Ecology and Evolution
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Ecology in the 19 th Century Until, and throughout the 19 th Century, the study of biology was and was known, usually, as “Natural History” Like historians of the period, these persons were more interested in description of organism’s morphology than in interactions between species. A natural historians fame was usually related to the size and variety of his (they were, invariably, men. White men) collection of preserved animals, rather than to his insights.
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Ecology in the 19 th Century The advent of Lamarck’s theory of modification of form in response to external forces indicates a change in the study of natural history Not only does an organism live in it’s environment, but it responds, at least morphologically, to it’s environment. The father of modern ecology is generally considered to be Friedrich Heinrich Alexander, Baron von Humboldt (1769- 1859), an explorer philosopher and botanist (and much more). Following trips to South and Central America, as well as other places across the globe Von Humboldt was the first to study the relationship between plants and their environment
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Ecology in the 19 th Century It is safe to say, therefore, that Ecology before Darwin was, at best, in it’s infancy Organisms were known to be, in many cases, associated with specific climates, habitats (though this word was unknown), and regions However, little thought and less research was done to understand the why and how of the distribution and abundance of any of the known species of plants and animals.
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So, Who was Darwin? Born in 1807 to a wealthy, well connected physician Was expected to follow in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps as a doctor However, did not have the stomach for medical studies, though showed an aptitude for natural history Dropped out of medical school, and went to study religion, for the purpose of becoming a minister of the Church of England His diaries indicate that he saw himself as a country parson, indulging in natural history as a hobby (he was wealthy enough to allow such indulgence)
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The Beagle (not Snoopy) In 1831, Captain Robert Fitzroy was commissioned to sail HMS the Beagle to survey South American geology and geography Fearing for his sanity, which could be endangered by long (1-3 yrs) isolation (Captains could not fraternize with lower ranks), he advertised for a gentleman companion, mainly to keep him company
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The Beagle Again Fitzroy added on the possibility of interesting natural history opportunities as an incentive (there already was an official naturalist on
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