The term ecology is derived from two Greek words:
Oikos – house or home or household or place of living
Logos – study
The term was coined by Earnst Haeckel in 1866. The term is prominently used by Rieter in 1868. Ecology as a science is defined by different ecologists in various ways. Following are some of them:
ü The study of total relationship of the animal both to its inorganic and to its organic environment including above all its friendly and inimical relation with those animals and plants with which it come directly or indirectly in contact.
ü British ecologist Charles Elton 1927 defines ecology as scientific natural history.
ü American plant ecologist Frederic Clementus 1916 defines ecology as science of community.
ü American ecologist Eugene.P.Odum 1963 and 1971 defines ecology as study of structure and function in nature.
ü G.L.Clarke 1954 defines ecology as study of interrelation of plants and animals with their environment.
ü Taylor 1936 defines ecology as science of relations of organisms to their entire environment.
ü Allee and others 1949 define ecology as the science of interrelation of living organism and their environment including both physical and biotic environment and emphasizing inter species as well as intra species relations
ü Andrewartha 1961 defines ecology as scientific study of distribution and abundance of the organisms.
The beginning of ecology can be traced with pre-historic man who used environmental information to hunt food, trap animals, and find edible vegetation and shelter.
Greek philosophers and scientists had knowledge of environmental science. Hippocratus, father of medicine, in his paper entitled “on airs waters and places” says whoever wish to investigate medicine properly should proceed thus in the first place to consider the seasons of the and what effect each of them produces for, they are not alike but differ much from themselves in regard to their changes.
Aristotle studied habit and habitat of animals while Theophrastus studied plant communities.
Environmental science indispensible for creating and maintain the quality of human civilization therefore today’s context ecology is defined as “MAN AND ENVIRONMENT”.