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Linné on line arrow Linnaeus and Ecology arrow The ascent of ecology in Sweden arrow The first zoo-ecologists

The first zoo-ecologists

The first zoologist to assert that ecological studies were a separate discipline was Sven Ekman. In his comprehensive Den skandinaviska djurvärldens invandringshistoria (The Migratory History of the Scandinavian Fauna) he defined ecology as the study of the way animals live. He distinguished between two sorts of ecology: ‘existence ecology’ and ‘distribution ecology.’ The former studied the relations of organisms to environmental factors, the latter the capacity of organisms to colonize different environments.

He also understood the role of the amateur in furthering ecological studies, recommending especially the study of the lives of birds. He was also an advocate of making ecology a central theme in schools partly because it would incite the curiosity of students and partly because the study of morphology and systematics could easily be organized around ecological themes. Just like Sernander, he was carrying on the Linnaean tradition in many respects.

The sociological establishment of ecology in zoology was somewhat slower and did not take place with the same force as in botany. In Stockholm and Lund German-inspired zoology was virtually unchallenged. Even though Lund, under the leadership of Sven Nilsson between 1830 and 1860, was the leader in regard to faunistic studies in Sweden, there was no movement toward a special ecological discipline among Lund zoologists until well into the 20th century. In Stockholm comparative anatomy also dominated. One exception was Gottfrid Adlerz, who performed careful field studies early on, but for most scientists there field studies were something to be carried out as a leisure-time hobby.

In Uppsala the tradition of faunistic field studies, carried on by Sven Nilsson’s student Vilhelm Lilljeborg, was unbroken, although they had to be subordinated to the new biology. Carl Aurivillius, for one, did early studies of morphological adaptations. The zoologists Einar Lönnberg and Leonard Jägerskiöld both wrote dissertations under Lilljeborg’s successor, Tycho Tullberg, but they both devoted most of their following research to issues of animal geography and systematics. Both also undertook research excursions abroad.

Lönnberg established the society Fauna and Flora to increase the contacts between nature-lovers in the general public and scientists. He was also active in the Swedish Association of Hunters and the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, thus helping bring back the naturalist, that is, the amateur researcher with a love of nature, in the period between the two world wars.