Throughout its history, the discipline of ecology has always been profoundly entangled with the history of space and place. On the one hand, ecology is a field science that has thrived on the study of concrete spatial entities, such as islands, forests or rivers. These spaces are the workplaces in which ecological phenomena are identified, observed and experimented on. They provide both epistemic opportunities and constraints that structure the agenda and the analytical sensibilities of ecological researchers. On the other hand, ecological knowledge and practices have become important resources through which spaces and places are classified, delineated, explained, experienced and managed. The impact of these activities reaches far beyond the realms of the ecological discipline. Many ecological concepts such as "biotopes," "ecosystems" and "the biosphere" have become entities that widely resonate in public life and policy making.  

This book explores the mutual entanglement between space and knowledge-making in the history of ecology. Its first goal is to explore to which extent a spatial perspective can shed new light on the history of ecological science. Second, it uses ecology as a critical site to gain broader insights into the history of the environment in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Via a series of case studies – discussing topics that range from ecological field stations in the early-twentieth century Caribbean over wisent breeding in Nazi Germany to computer modelling in North American deserts – the book offers a tour through the changing landscapes of modern ecology.

chapter 1|16 pages


Knowing Nature, Making Space
ByRaf de Bont, Jens Lachmund

part I|102 pages

Crafting Zones and Regions

chapter 2|20 pages

Mapping Heimat

Amateur Natural History and Plant Ecology in Imperial Germany
ByNils Güttler

chapter 3|19 pages

Life Zones

The Rise and Decline of a Theory of the Geographic Distribution of Species
ByRoderick P. Neumann

chapter 4|23 pages

A Laboratory for Tropical Ecology

Colonial Models and American Science at Cinchona, Jamaica
ByMegan Raby

chapter 5|20 pages

Field Stations and the Problem of Scale

Local, Regional, and Global at the Desert Lab
ByJeremy Vetter

chapter 6|20 pages

Ecology and Rehabilitation

The West Highland Survey, 1944–1955
ByMark Toogood

part II|43 pages

Modelling Systems

chapter 7|22 pages

Ecosystem Simulation as a Practice of Emplacement

The Desert Biome Project, 1970–1974
ByEtienne S. Benson

chapter 8|21 pages

The City as Ecosystem

Paul Duvigneaud and the Ecological Study of Brussels
ByJens Lachmund

part III|67 pages

Fashioning Objects of Conservation

chapter 9|22 pages

Extinct in the Wild

Finding a Place for the European Bison, 1919–1952
ByRaf de Bont

chapter 10|19 pages

Islands and Bioregions

Global Reserve Design Models and the Making of National Parks, 1960–2000
BySimone Schleper, Hans Schouwenburg

chapter 11|19 pages

Space, Place, Land, and Sea

The “Ecological Discovery” of the Global Wadden Sea
ByAnna-Katharina Wöbse

chapter 12|7 pages


ByRaf de Bont, Jens Lachmund