3 min readOct 10, 2020


Systems Thinking

Ecology: 10 Quotes

“[…] for as all organic beings are striving, it may be said, to seize on each place in the economy of nature, if any one species does not become modified and improved in a corresponding degree with its competitors, it will soon be exterminated.” (Charles Darwin, “On the Origin of Species”, 1859)

“By ecology we mean the body of knowledge concerning the economy of nature — the investigation of the total relations of the animal both to its inorganic and to its organic environment; including, above all, its friendly and inimical relations with those animals and plants with which it comes directly or indirectly into contact — in a word, ecology is the study of all those complex interrelations referred to by Darwin as the conditions of the struggle for existence.” (Ernst Haeckel, [lecture] 1869)

“The general study of the equilibria and dynamics of populations seems to have no name; but as it has probably reached its highest development in the biological study known as ‘ecology,’ this name may well be given to it.” (Kenneth E Boulding, “A Reconstruction of Economics”, 1950)

“The thing the ecologically illiterate don’t realize about an ecosystem is that it’s a system. A system! A system maintains a certain fluid stability that can be destroyed by a misstep in just one niche. A system has order, a flowing from point to point. If something dams the flow, order collapses. The untrained miss the collapse until too late. That’s why the highest function of ecology is the understanding of consequences.” (Frank Herbert, “Dune”, 1965)

“Ecology is defined as the totality or pattern of relations between organisms and their environment. Thus the act of creation for the new artist is not so much the invention of new objects as the revelation of previously unrecognized relation- ships between existing phenomena, both physical and metaphysical. So we find that ecology is art in the most fundamental and pragmatic sense, expanding our apprehension of reality.” (Gene Youngblood, “Expanded Cinema”, 1970)

“Ecology is the scientific study of the interactions that determine the distribution and abundance of organisms.” (Charles J Krebs, “Ecology”, 1972)

“Economics emphasizes competition, expansion, and domination; ecology emphasizes cooperation, conservation, and partnership. (Fritjof Capra, “The Web of Life”, 1996)

“[ecology:] the scientific study of the distribution and abundance of organisms and the interactions that determine distribution and abundance.” (Michael Begon et al, “Ecology: From individuals to ecosystems”, 2006)

“Much of what we deal with in ecology are rates of change of biological objects: growth of an organism, decay of a dead leaf, fluctuations in populations, accumulation or erosion of soil, increases or decreases in lake levels, etc. But rates of change are some of the hardest things to measure. What we measure are static properties such as the sizes of objects at different times and then infer that change has taken place between those two measurements.” (John Pastor, “Mathematical Ecology of Populations and Ecosystems”, 2008)

“This new model of development would be based clearly on the goal of sustainable human well-being. It would use measures of progress that clearly acknowledge this goal. It would acknowledge the importance of ecological sustainability, social fairness, and real economic efficiency. Ecological sustainability implies recognizing that natural and social capital are not infinitely substitutable for built and human capital, and that real biophysical limits exist to the expansion of the market economy.” (Robert Costanza, “Toward a New Sustainable Economy”, 2008)

For more quotes on “Ecology” see [The Web of Knowledge]




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