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History of ecological sciences: 51. Formalizing marine ecology, 1870s to 1920s
Egerton, F.N. (2014). History of ecological sciences: 51. Formalizing marine ecology, 1870s to 1920s. Bull. Ecol. Soc. Am. 95(4): 347-430.
In: Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America. Ecological Society of America: New Brunswick. ISSN 0012-9623, more
Peer reviewed article  

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    Historical account; Marine ecology; Oceanography; ANE, Belgium [Marine Regions]; Marine
Author keywords
    Marine stations

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  • Egerton, F.N.

    Marine ecology arose from three developments during the 1870s: founding of marine biological stations in Europe and America, voyages of research, especially H.M.S. Challenger, and plankton research, initiated at the University of Kiel. “Mac” McIntosh (1985:49–57) provided a bibliographical guide to the history of marine ecology. Eric Mills’ Biological Oceanography: An Early History, 1870–1960 (1989) is actually limited in scope to the history of plankton research. Marine ecology history is mostly embedded within the context of the history of oceanography, which has an extensive literature (including Herdman 1923, Idyll 1969, Schlee 1973, Ward 1974, Sears and Merriman 1980, Lenz and Deacon 1990, Vanney 1993, Deacon 1997a, Mills 2000, Benson and Rehbock 2002, Morcos and Zhu 2004, Groeben 2013). Of interest is John Murray, chapter 1. “A Brief Historical Review of Oceanographical Investigations” (Murray and Hjort 1912:1–21, with 12 portraits). A few small marine biology stations arose before 1870, but a major impetus for their development was the example set by Anton Dohrn founding his Stazione Zoologica in Naples in 1873. Voyages to explore marine life began in the 1840s, but were only occasional and of short duration until H.M.S. Challenger’s 3.5-year voyage, 1872–1876. The existence of plankton had been known before Victor Hensen named it and connected it to the fate of northern European fisheries; that connection made it seem worthy of sustained intensive research. The impetus of these three developments plus a decline in fish populations led to the founding in 1902 of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), which transcended European national Atlantic marine research limitations. ICES inspired the founding of the Commission Internationale pour l’Exploration Scientifique de la Méditerranée. Commercial fisheries science also progressed beyond Europe, and the American story is also discussed. However, rather than discuss the first part of the careers of William Beebe and Henry Bigelow here, both are deferred to part 58. Alister Hardy’s career also extended beyond the 1920s, but with a briefer discussion than planned for Beebe and Bigelow, his account provides an ending for this part 51.

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