History of ecology

Man always has utilized environmental information to collect food, trap animals, find edible plants, sow seeds, harvest his crops and at times, to migrate towards favourable habitat. The history of ecology is as old as the history of human civilization. The humans always remain interested in other organisms and their environments. The prehistoric people were hunters. They had to learn where animals and plants were found. Many natural historians from Aristotle to Dam in observed and described organisms in their natural habitat. Thus the old natural history formed the basis of ecological science.

  1. Early Greek Philosophers

Early Greek philosophers and scientists knew the importance of environmental studies.

(a) Hippocrates (460 B.C.): He was taken as the father of medicine. He wrote about air, water and places.He advised doctors of his time to study the seasons and surroundings of their patients and correlate them with their diseases.

( b) Aristotle (384 B.C.): He discussed different kinds of animals and their habitats. He he that adaptations in an depend on their habitat and environmental condition.

(c) Theophrastus (300 B.C.): He is considered to he the father of Botany. He is also regarded a pioneer ecologist. He wrote about the plant communities. He also wrote about types of plants found in different habitats. These plants were land plants, aquatic plants. marine plants, marshy plants etc.

  1. Role of Muslim Scientists in ecology

The western World was passing through dark ages in the mediaeval time. It was time of Muslim scientists’ era. they did their researches in every field of know ledge. They also made a great contribution in the study Of plants and their habitat. Regular experimental gardens existed in Cordova (Spain). Cairo (Egypt) and Baghdad (Iraq). These gardens were used for the study of plants. Following Muslim botanists worked on ecology:

(a) Abu Mohammad Abdullah lbn Ahmad Al Baiter (1197-124 AD.): lie was famous botanist and great plant geographer. lie traveled as herbalist in Spain, Greece, Italy, Asia Minor and North Africa. He described in detail. habit and habitat of 1.700 plants.

(h) Abdul Lath:He gave valuable botanical observations in his famous description of Egypt.

(c)   Abdul Abbas al Nabat: He made botanical exploration in Spain and all along the African coast to Arabia.

(d)Alberuni (941 A.).): He stayed in lndo-Pak subcontinent for fifty years. He studied the habit and habitat of plants growing in this region. He was the first man to describe the Indus plain was sea in the past. later it was filled with alluvial oil.

(e)Ibn-Wahshiya: His book Nahatean gives detail of olive trees. springs and wells. It also gives the qualities of water and how to improve them. This hook has also information about various plants and their possible varieties, changes in the atmospheric conditions: like vapour and wind, the causes of deforestation. the nature and improvement of soils. the cultivation of crops fruit trees and flowering plants.

  1. Role of Western Ecologists in ecology

There is an expanding human population. It needs food and pollution free atmosphere.The understanding of environment is necessary for increasing food production and controlling pollution. A large number of ecologists are working on various aspects of environmental science in different parts of the world. Some of the important western ecologists are:


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(a) Linnaeus (1753 AD.): He was a great systematic botanist.He described the plants and their distribution in relation to the nature of their habitat.

(b) Von Humboldt (1810 AD): He was a German ecologist. He made an important contribution in ecology in the beginning or the 19th century. He traveled widely in the world. He correlated the plant distribution on the earth w ith that of the climate.

(c) Schow (1829): He was a student of Von Humboldt. He discussed the effectiveness of  light, temperature and moisture in species distribution

(d)Charles Darwin (1864): He was a naturalists.He traveled in a ship Beagle. He studied the habits, habitat and different adaptations in plants and animals in different regions.

(e) Merriam (1894): He was an American biologist. He showed that North American flora and fauna are determined by environmental factors especially. temperature.

(f) Eugene Odum (1971): He is one of the most famous modern ecologist.He worked on different ecosystems. He discussed the role of different environmental factors in the development of different communities in ecosystems.

  1. History of ecology in Pakistan

Ecological study in Pakistan was started in recent times. Some research has been conducted on the problems of forest ecology in Pakistan Forest institute Peshawar. Some studies of ecological nature has also been carried out in the Punjab university. Autecological and synecological studies were made in Karachi university. The government of Pakistan has established following institutes to improve the ecological study and environmental standard:

(a)     The government of Pakistan has established a federal ministry of environment and urban affairs in order to improve the human habitat in the country.

(b)   The government has established Environmental protection Agency to the check the industrial pollution.

(c)   Wild life department is working to save the wild life in the country

(d)   In Karachi, a master plan environmental control department has been established, under the Karachi Development Authority. It k developing ways and means of providing a healthy environment to the citizens of Karachi.

(e)     National Science Foundation is also playing an important role in  improving the ecological knowledge.

Unfortunately, study of ecology has remained confined to governmet controlled institutes. We cannot get even a single Pakistani ecologist international fame. Standard of working in ecology is also much poor in the country.

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