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From Darwin's Origin of Species toward a theory of natural history.

Darwin is the father of evolutionary theory because he identified evolutionary patterns and, with Natural Selection, he ascertained the exquisitely ecological ultimate processes that lead to evolution. The proximate processes of evolution he proposed, however, predated the discovery of genetics, the backbone of modern evolutionary theory. The later discovery of the laws of inheritance by Mendel and the rediscovery of Mendel in the early 20th century led to two reforms of Darwinism: Neo-Darwinism and the Modern Synthesis (and subsequent refinements). If Darwin's evolutionary thought required much refinement, his ecological insight is still very modern. In the first edition of The Origin of Species, Darwin did not use either the word "evolution" or the word "ecology". "Ecology" was not coined until after the publication of the Origin. Evolution, for him, was the origin of varieties, then species, which he referred to as well-marked varieties, whereas, instead of using ecology, he used "the economy of nature". The Origin contains a high proportion of currently accepted ecological principles. Darwin labelled himself a naturalist. His discipline (natural history) was a blend of ecology and evolution in which he investigated both the patterns and the processes that determine the organization of life. Reductionist approaches, however, often keep the two disciplines separated from each other, undermining a full understanding of natural phenomena that might be favored by blending ecology and evolution through the development of a modern Theory of Natural History based on Darwin's vision of the study of life.

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