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Eugene Pleasants Odum (September 17, 1913 – August 10, 2002) was an American biologist known for his pioneering work on ecosystem ecology. He wrote the first ecology textbook: Fundamentals of Ecology.
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- Until recently, ecologists were content to describe how nature “looks” (sometimes by means of fantastic terms!) and to speculate on what she might have looked like in the past or may look like in the future. Now, an equal emphasis is being placed on what nature ‘does’, and rightly so, because the changing face of nature can never be understood unless her metabolism is also studied. This change in approach brings the small organisms into perspective with the large, and encourages the use of experimental methods to supplement the analytic. It is evident that so long as a purely descriptive viewpoint is maintained, there is very little in common between such structurally diverse organisms as sperma-tophytes, vertebrates and bacteria. In real life, however, all these are intimately linked functionally in ecological systems, according to well-defined laws. Thus the only kind of general ecology is that which I call a ‘functional ecology’, and this kind is of the greatest interest to all students of the subject, regardless of present or future specialisations.
- “We are able to breathe, drink, and eat in comfort because millions of organisms and hundreds of processes are operating to maintain a liveable environment, but we tend to take nature's services for granted because we don't pay money for most of them.”
- “The fate of the soil system depends on society's willingness to intervene in the market place, and to forego some of the short-term benefits that accrue from 'mining' the soil so that soil quality and fertility can be maintained over the longer term.”
- Eugene Odum (1993) Ecology and our endangered life-support systems. p. 143
About Eugene Odum
- In recent years it has become impossible to talk about man's relation to nature without referring to "ecology"...such leading scientists in this area as Rachel Carson, Barry Commoner, Eugene Odum, Paul Ehrlich and others, have become our new delphic voices...so influential has their branch of science become that our time might well be called the "Age of Ecology".
- Donald Worster, Nature's Economy, Cambridge University Press, 1994.