World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Eugene Odum

Eugene Pleasants Odum
Born (1913-09-17)September 17, 1913
Newport, New Hampshire, USA
Died August 10, 2002(2002-08-10) (aged 88)
Athens, Georgia, USA
Residence USA
Nationality American
Fields ecologist, mathematician, natural philosopher, and systems ecologist
Institutions University of Georgia
Alma mater University of Illinois (Ph.D.)
Known for pioneering the concept of the ecosystem; the interdependence of divergent ecosystems as the basis of how the earth functions
Notable awards Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement (1977)
Crafoord Prize (1987)

Eugene Pleasants Odum (September 17, 1913 – August 10, 2002) was an ecosystem ecology. He and Howard T. Odum wrote the popular ecology textbook Fundamentals of Ecology, published in 1953. Odum School of Ecology is named in his honor.


  • Biography 1
  • Work 2
    • Ecosystems 2.1
    • Environmentalism 2.2
    • Legacy 2.3
  • Publications 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Son of the sociologist, Howard W. Odum, and brother of the ecologist Howard T. Odum, E.P. Odum credited his father for imparting to him a holistic approach to looking at things. When contemplating his advanced education, he rejected both the University of Michigan and Cornell University, as he did not feel that this holism was embodied in their approach to their biology departments. Instead, he chose the Graduate Department of Zoology at the University of Illinois where he earned his doctorate degree. There Odum was a student of Victor Shelford whose efforts led to the establishment of The Nature Conservancy.[1]

After getting his Ph.D. in 1939, Odum was hired to be the first resident biologist at the Edmund Niles Huyck Preserve and Biological Research Station, in Rensselaerville, New York. The 430-acre preserve had been founded in 1931 and its research station established in 1938. The Preserve’s first summer research fellows, also selected in 1939, were Edward C. Raney[2] and Donald Griffin. Raney, who had just finished his Ph.D. at Cornell, studied green frogs and bullfrogs and went on to become a leading ichthyologist (zoologist who studies fish). Griffin, who was completing his Ph.D. at Harvard, did research on bat echolocation (he later became famous for that work).[3]

Odum and Martha Ann Huff, whom he had met as a student, were married at her home in Wilmette, Illinois, on November 18, 1939. The new Mrs. Odum joined her husband in Rensselaerville where he continued to work at the Huyck Preserve. His research included studying chickadees and—more important for his future as an ecologist—inventorying the plants and preparing a habitat map. His purpose was to establish a basis for succession studies of the land so man could plan and manage ecosystems.[3]

In September 1940, Odum took at job as an instructor of biology at the

External links

  1. ^ Smith, S. & Mark, S. (2009). The Historical Roots of the Nature Conservancy in the Northwest Indiana/Chicagoland Region: From Science to Preservation. The South Shore Journal, 3.
  2. ^ Robbins, Timothy; Collette, Bruce; Robins, Richard (December 18, 1992). "Edward C. Raney, 1909-84". Copeia 1992 (4): 1143–1150. 
  3. ^ a b Craige, Betty Jean (2001). Eugene Odum : ecosystem ecologist and environmentalist. Athens, Ga. [u.a.]: Univ. of Georgia Press.  
  4. ^ a b Marine, Tom (December 7, 2007). "'"Ecology school 'small with big ideas.  
  5. ^ Tansley AG (1935) The use and abuse of vegetational concepts and terms. Ecology 16, 284-307.
  6. ^ "Beech Creek Preserve Official site". Retrieved 2008-03-25. 


  • Rotabi, K. S. (2008). Ecological theory origin from natural to social science or vice versa? : A brief conceptual history for social work. Advances in Social Work, 8 (1), 113-123. (Online)
  • Craige, Betty Jean (2001). Eugene Odum : ecosystem ecologist and environmentalist. Athens, Ga. [u.a.]: Univ. of Georgia Press.  
About Odum
  • 1969. The Strategy of Ecosystem Development
  • Comparison of population energy flow of a herbivorous and a deposit-feeding invertebrate in a salt marsh ecosystem (with Alfred E. Smalley)
Articles, a selection
  • 1939. Variations in the heart rate of birds: a study in physiological ecology
  • 1953. Fundamentals of Ecology. With Howard T. Odum.
  • 1963. Ecology
  • 1975. Ecology, the link between the natural and the social sciences
  • 1983. Basic Ecology
  • 1993. Ecology and Our Endangered Life Support Systems
  • 1998. Ecological Vignettes: Ecological Approaches to Dealing with Human Predicament
  • 2000. Essence of Place (co-authored with Martha Odum)


Ultimately, Odum's financial contributions were focused on not only the University of Georgia, but also the University of Virginia given his son's faculty appointment there, and the University of North Carolina where his father was a prolific scholar. Ultimately, his wealth—partly the product of book royalties—benefited those institutions that he respected.

Odum's will stipulated that, after his death, his 26 acres (110,000 m2) on the Middle Oconee River in Athens, Ga. would be sold and developed according to plans he laid out before his death. He would often show friends and colleagues hand sketched plans for his vision of this green community. Plans included that over 50 percent of the property would be protected greenspace and walking trails, managed by the Oconee River Land Trust. Profits from the sale of the land would go to the Eugene and William Odum Ecology Fund, after $1 million is set aside for a professorial chair at UGA in Odum's name. The land was sold to builder John Willis Homes who is honoring Odum’s wishes at Beech Creek Preserve.[6]


By 1970, when the first Earth as a global set of interlaced ecosystems became one of the key insights of the environmental movement that has since spread through the world. He was, however, an independent thinker who was at times, gently critical of the slogans and fashionable concepts of the environmentalist movement.

While Odum did wish to influence the knowledge base and thinking of fellow biologists and of college and university students, his historical role was not as a promoter of public environmentalism as we now know it. However, his dedication in his 1963 book, Ecology, expressed that his father had inspired him to "seek more harmonious relationships between man and nature".


Odum wrote a textbook on ecology with his brother, Howard Thomas Odum, a graduate student at Yale. The Odum brothers' book (first edition, 1953), Fundamentals of Ecology, was the only textbook in the field for about ten years. Among other things, the Odums explored how one natural system can interact with another.

Odum adopted and developed further the term "scientists doubted that it could be studied on a large scale, or as a discipline in itself.

In the 1940s and 1950s, "ecology" was not yet a field of study that had been defined as a separate discipline. Even professional biologists seemed to Odum to be generally under-educated about how the Earth's ecological systems interact with one another. Odum brought forward the importance of ecology as a discipline that should be a fundamental dimension of the training of a biologist.



In 2007 the Institute of Ecology, which Odum founded at the University of Georgia, became the Odum School of Ecology, the first stand-alone academic unit of a research university dedicated to ecology.[4]

He had two sons, William Eugene and Daniel Thomas, with his wife Martha. Odum was very proud of Martha's accomplishment as an artist. She often painted landscapes when traveling with her husband across the US and overseas. William died in his 40s, but not before making important contributions to science while a faculty member at the University of Virginia.

, he perceived an urgent need to incorporate the subject of ecology when he found that his colleagues generally did not know what ecology (in its own right) might be. curriculum In the late 1940s, while serving on the University's biology faculty committee, which was then drawing up a new [4]

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.