About Our Name and Our History

The Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology traces its lineage back to the original Departments of Zoology and Botany and the College of Agriculture, which were established when UCLA emerged as the southern branch of the University of California in the 1940’s.

By the late 1950s, the urbanization of Los Angeles led to the reduction of the College of Agriculture, whose few remaining members joined their plant colleagues in a department curiously called the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences, soon to be renamed the Department of Botanical Sciences.

Discussions in the 1970s caused this relatively small department to merge with Zoology, forming the Department of Biology. This rather large department was divided into four sections in the 1970s, leading to the eventual evolution into two departments in the 1980s, one now known as the Department of Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology and the other retaining the name Biology. To help clarify the professional areas covered, this latter department was renamed the Department of Organismic Biology, Ecology, and Evolution in the 1990s.

Soon after the beginning of the twenty-first century, this department refocused its objectives, becoming the current Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.  Our department continues to be the home of the Biology Major, while also offering two specialized undergraduate majors that reflect our lineage and our contemporary mission: (1) Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution; and (2) Marine Biology.

At the graduate level, we have several areas of emphasis within ecology and evolution, including behavior ecology, conservation biology, marine biology, plant ecology, tropical biology, and physiological ecology.