Biological Oceanography: An Early History. 1870 - 1960

Biological Oceanography: An Early History. 1870 - 1960

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By Eric L. Mills
Foreword by John Cullen
University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division © 2011
World Rights
416 Pages 41 Images
ISBN 9781442613720
Published Jan 2012
Online discount: 15%
 $42.95    $36.51
ebook (EPUB format)
ISBN 9781442663060
Published Jan 2012
Online discount: 26%
Full purchase $42.95

First published in 1989, Eric L. Mills’s comprehensive history of biological oceanography has been praised as ‘superb’ (BioScience) and ‘proof that history need not be dull’ (The Northern Mariner). This first history of the field, which chronicles the scientific work and creativity of its chief contributors, tells a riveting story that is far from narrowly scientific and thoroughly accessible to general readers.

Mills shows how the work and ideas of the main actors are inseparable from some seemingly unrelated factors, including Prussian imperialism, agricultural chemistry, microbiology, and the problems of German universities. Mills also illustrates the significant roles played in the field’s development by the failures of commercial fisheries, the development of analytical chemistry, the establishment of international scientific organizations, and sheer scientific curiosity.

This new edition of Biological Oceanography includes a fresh introduction by the author, as well as an original foreword by noted oceanographer John Cullen. It makes an excellent companion to Mills’s recent history of mathematical and physical oceanography, the multi-award-winning and widely acclaimed The Fluid Envelope of Our Planet.

Eric L. Mills is a professor emeritus in the Department of Oceanography at Dalhousie University and former director of the History of Science and Technology Program at the University of King’s College. He is the winner of the Jehuda Neumann Memorial Prize for the History of Meteorology and Physical Oceanography from the Royal Meteorological Society.


Introduction: The Development of Biological Oceanography

PART 1 The Origin of Biological Oceanography in Germany and Scandinavia during the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries

  1. "This Blood of the Sea": The Origin of Quantitative 9 Plankton Biology in Germany, 1870-1911
  2. The Control of Metabolism in the Sea: Karl Brandt, the Nitrogen Cycle, and the Origin of Brandt's Hypothesis
  3. International Oceanography, the Kiel School, and the Fate of Brandt's Hypothesis
  4. "The Water Blooms": The Discovery of the Spring Bloom and Its Control
  5. Hydrography and the Control of Plankton Abundance: Solving the Problem of Plankton Blooms
  6. The End of an Era: The Demise of the Kiel Schoo

PART 2 Biological Oceanography in Britain and the United States, 1921-1960

  1. Food from the Sea: The Origin of British Biological Oceanography
  2. Surveying the Blue Pasture: Plankton Dynamics at Plymouth, 1921-1933
  3. Plankton Production and Its Control: The Marine Ecosystem at Plymouth, 1934-1958
  4. Appreciating Mathematics: The Origin of Plankton Modeling in the United States, 1934-1946
  5. Disciplined Thinking in Biological Oceanography: Plankton Dynamics, Physical Oceanography, and Riley's "Synthetic Method"

Conclusion: The End of One Tale and the Beginning of Another



‘[A] superb treatise on the early history of biological oceanography … Mills has constructed an enormously appealing, readable, and intellectual history of biological oceanography that transcends the subject area and delves into the philosophy of science and its management.’

Christopher F. D’Elia, BioScience

‘The book is a must-read for everyone interested in biological oceanography and meets a high standard of scholarship.’

W.H. Berger, Science

‘A richly detailed and yet accessible look at the development of biological oceanography.’

Jane Maienschein, Isis

‘Eric L. Mills’s Biological Oceanography gives proof that history need not be dull … He writes with ease and grace, and with the characters at his disposal he tells a fine story.’

Frederick A. Aldrich, The Northern Mariner