Ecology began with natural history observations and a balance of nature concept. It expanded cumulatively through the ages until Linnaeus and Buffon began to expand the theoretical aspects of natural history in mid-1700s. During 1800s ecological disciplines began to emerge, beginning with Humboldt's plant geography. Natural history was revolutionized by Darwin's theory on the origin of species, leading to Haeckel's coining of the word oecologie in 1866 and a gradual elaboration of limnology, marine biology, plant ecology, and animal ecology by the early 1900s. During the 1900s, additional specializations emerged (including population ecology and ecosystem ecology), ecological organizations and journals were founded, and ecological professorships were added by universities. A sophisticated science developed well before 2000. Ecology now has the broadest scope of all the sciences, and applied ecology specialties flourish.

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