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I'm Betty Smocovitis, professor of the history of science in the Department of Biology,
in the Department of History,
at the University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.
I am a historian of the biological sciences with
a longstanding interest in the history of modern evolutionary biology.
Today, what I would like to do is focus on one aspect of Darwin's multifaceted legacy,
namely, his impact on our understanding of evolutionary interactions.
Generally, we refer to the science that delves specifically
into the interactions between living forms as ecology,
though it is important to note that ecology and evolution are mutually determinative.
Though we generally credit Darwin as
the towering figure in the history of evolutionary thinking,
we often fail to give him equal credit for
his equally important views on ecological thinking.
Both ecology and evolution were in fact intimately linked then as now, and indeed,
most of the core elements of Darwin's thinking required ecological thinking,
as I discuss here.
But first, for the purposes of historical accuracy,
let us note that neither the term evolution nor the term ecology existed in
Darwin's magnum opus or great work of 1859 titled "On the Origin of Species."
Darwin's term for the theory he set forth was,
"Descent with modification," and
only the last word of his famous book laying out his theory was evolved.
Though the term evolution had currency in embryology and meant unfolding,
the term ecology didn't even exist at the time.