Article ID: CBB692195212

How the Modern Synthesis Came to Ecology (2019)


Ecology in principle is tied to evolution, since communities and ecosystems result from evolution and ecological conditions determine fitness values (and ultimately evolution by natural selection). Yet the two disciplines of evolution and ecology were not unified in the twentieth-century. The architects of the Modern Synthesis, and especially Julian Huxley, constantly pushed for such integration, but the major ideas of the Synthesis—namely, the privileged role of selection and the key role of gene frequencies in evolution—did not directly or immediately translate into ecological science. In this paper I consider five stages through which the Synthesis was integrated into ecology and distinguish between various ways in which a possible integration was gained. I start with Elton’s animal ecology (1927), then consider successively Ford’s ecological genetics in the 1940s, the major textbook Principles of animal ecology edited by Allee et al. (1949), and the debates over the role of competition in population regulation in the 1950s, ending with Hutchinson’s niche concept (1959) and McArthur and Wilson’s Principles of Island Biogeography (1967) viewed as a formal transposition of Modern Synthesis explanatory schemes. I will emphasize the key role of founders of the Synthesis at each stage of this very nonlinear history.

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Article Philippe Huneman (2019) Special Issue Editor’s Introduction: “Revisiting the Modern Synthesis”. Journal of the History of Biology (pp. 509-518). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Waters, C. Kenneth
Echeverria, Begona
Greene, John C.
Van Helden, Albert
Divall, Colin
Stansky, Peter D. L.
Journal of the History of Biology
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Studies in History of Biology
Endeavour: Review of the Progress of Science
Annals of Science: The History of Science and Technology
Interdisciplinary Science Reviews
Rice Univ. Press
Basic Books
Boston University
University of California, Riverside
Arizona State University
Modern Synthesis (biology)
Population ecology
Animal ecology
Huxley, Julian Sorell
Dobzhansky, Theodosius
Remane, Adolf
Tansley, Arthur George
Stopes, Marie Carmichael
Darwin, Charles Robert
Time Periods
20th century
21st century
20th century, late
20th century, early
19th century
United States
Arctic regions
Great Plains (North America)
British Ecological Society

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