In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Aldo Leopold

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Bibliographies
  • Correspondence

Ecology Aldo Leopold
Curt Meine
  • LAST REVIEWED: 27 April 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 April 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199830060-0037


Aldo Leopold (b. 1887–d. 1948) is best known as the author of the conservation classic A Sand County Almanac, and Sketches Here and There (Leopold 1949, cited under Books). The Almanac was the culminating contribution of a forty-year career that altered the course of conservation history. Born in Burlington, Iowa, Leopold was educated in local schools before graduating from the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey in 1905. He attended the Sheffield Scientific School at Yale University and then the Yale Forest School. After graduating with a Master’s degree in 1909, Leopold began his career in the US Forest Service (USFS) in the newly established national forests of Arizona and New Mexico. Except for a brief stint as secretary of the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce, Leopold spent the next fifteen years working for the USFS in the American Southwest, gaining recognition for innovative work in forest and range ecology, game protection, watershed management, wilderness advocacy, and forest administration. In 1924 he was reassigned to Madison, Wisconsin, to serve as assistant (later associate) director of the US Forest Products Laboratory. In 1928 Leopold left the US Forest Service to pursue his primary interest in the emerging field of game (later wildlife) management. For the next two years he conducted a series of game surveys across the upper Midwest under the auspices of the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers Institute. Leopold published the summary Report on a Game Survey of the North Central States in 1931, followed in 1933 by the first text in the field, Game Management. That same year he joined the faculty of the University of Wisconsin as the first professor in the new field. He remained in this position for the remainder of his life, building the science and practice of wildlife ecology and management. His work, however, transcended his own specialty, as he brought the insights of ecology into natural resource management, while bolstering the philosophical and cultural foundations of a more integrated approach to conservation. Beginning in the late 1930s, his commitment to education and communication was expressed in the literary essays that would come together in A Sand County Almanac. His summary essay “The Land Ethic” in the Almanac provided a cornerstone for modern environmental philosophy. Leopold’s influence continues to be felt in fields from forestry and wildlife ecology to soil and water conservation and wilderness protection, and in such emergent interdisciplinary domains as restoration ecology, conservation biology, ecological economics, and community-based conservation.

General Overviews

The websites of the Aldo Leopold Foundation and the Barakatt 2010 in the Encyclopedia of Earth provide excellent introductions and in-depth content on Leopold and his work. The opening chapter of Flader 1994 summarizes his life and career. Meine 2010 is the first complete biography. Flader and Callicott 1991 includes an especially succinct summary of the core themes that Leopold explored and developed. Building on these works, Warren 2016 examines the evolution and integration of Leopold’s scientific, ethical, and literary interests.

  • Aldo Leopold Foundation.

    The Aldo Leopold Foundation was established by the five children of Aldo and Estella Leopold in 1982. Its website contains extensive historical, archival, and bibliographic information on Leopold, with links to other major online sources.

  • Barakatt, Cynthia. 2010. Aldo Leopold Collection. In The Encyclopedia of Earth. Edited by Craig Maier and Cutler J. Cleveland.

    The online Encyclopedia of Earth is a free, expert-reviewed reference collection about the earth, its natural environments, and their interaction with society. The Aldo Leopold Collection includes many of the citations and materials referenced in this article, as well as additional background information and links.

  • Flader, Susan L. 1994. Thinking like a mountain: Aldo Leopold and the evolution of an ecological attitude toward deer, wolves, and forests. Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press.

    Originally published in 1974, Flader’s study was the first book-length work on Leopold and an important early work in environmental history. Flader traces Leopold’s intellectual development through his expanding ecological understanding of the interactions among predator and prey populations with and within their larger ecological communities.

  • Flader, Susan L., and J. Baird Callicott, eds. 1991. The river of the mother of god and other essays by Aldo Leopold. Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press.

    The introduction to this volume of essential Leopold writings is a helpful overview of the evolution of key intellectual, professional, and policy themes in Leopold’s writing and work.

  • Meine, Curt. 2010. Aldo Leopold: His life and work. Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press.

    Originally published in 1988, this was the first full biography of Leopold, placing his personal and professional development in the context of conservation and American history. It remains a standard work and entry point for those seeking deeper understanding of Leopold’s life and work.

  • Warren, Julianne Lutz. 2016. Aldo Leopold’s odyssey: Rediscovering the author of A Sand County Almanac. Washington, DC: Island.

    A thorough intellectual biography of Leopold, with a strong emphasis on the scientific and cultural influences on Leopold, his thought, and his writing. Originally published in 2006 under the author’s name Julianne Lutz Newton.

back to top

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.

How to Subscribe

Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.