Shaping Ecology: The Life of Arthur Tansley

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John Wiley & Sons, May 21, 2012 - Biography & Autobiography - 213 pages
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Sir Arthur Tansley was the leading figure in ecology for the firsthalf of the 20th century, founding the field, and forming its firstprofessional societies. He was the first President of the BritishEcological Society and the first chair of the Field StudiesCouncil. His work as a botanist is considered seminal and he isrecognized as one of the giants of ecology throughout the world.

Ecology underpins the principles and practices of modernconservation and the maintenance of biodiversity. It explains thecauses of, and offers solutions to, problems of climate change. Yetecology is a young science, barely 100 years old. Its origins liein phytogeography, the naming and mapping of plants.

Shaping Ecology is a book about a multi-faceted man whosefriends included Bertrand Russell, Marie Stopes, Julian Huxley, GMTrevelyan, and Solly Zuckerman. Historical context is provided byTansley's family for his parents moved in the Fabian-socialistworld of John Ruskin and Octavia Hill, both instrumental in thefoundation of the National Trust. While Britain was relatively slowto protect its green spaces and wildlife, it did establish in 1913the first professional Ecological Society in the world. Tansley wasits President. Organising the British Vegetation Committee andinitiating a series of International Phytogeographic Excursions, hechanged phytogeography into ecology.


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About the author (2012)

Peter Ayres was taught by, or worked with, several of Tansley's closest friends. He was for seven years Executive Editor of the New Phytologist, the journal founded by Tansley. After a career teaching plant physiology and pathology at Lancaster University, his interest in the history of plant sciences has led him to write Harry Marshall Ward and the Fungal Thread of Death and The Aliveness of Plants: The Darwins at the Dawn of Plant Science.

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