The history of the Ecology Program of the Office of Environmental Sciences can be traced to July 1, 1965, when the Smithsonian Office of Ecology (SOE) was created to assist in expanding the research opportunities of Smithsonian scientists and to aid in the coordination of ecological activities with other government agencies. From its creation until 1966, the SOE was an administrative unit of the National Museum of Natural History. In 1966, administrative responsibility for the SOE was transferred to the Assistant Secretary for Science. The Smithsonian's environmental sciences programs were reorganized under the Office of Environmental Sciences (OES) in 1970. At that time, the SOE became the Ecology Program of the newly created OES. In 1973, OES was merged with the Office of International Activities to form the Office of International and Environmental Programs (OIEP). The Ecology Program came under the administrative control of OIEP. The Ecology Program was abolished in 1974.
Administrators of the Ecology Program of OES and its predecessor the SOE included Helmut K. Buechner, assistant director for ecology, 1965-1966, head, 1966-1968 (he also served as senior scientist, 1968-1971); Irvin Eugene Wallen, acting head, 1969; and Dale W. Jenkins, director, 1970-1973. Other staff included Lee Merriam Talbot, research biologist, 1965-1966, field representative, Ecology and Conservation, 1966-1967, deputy head and international field representative, 1968, resident ecologist, 1969-1971, and deputy director, 1972-1973; and Francis Raymond Fosberg, special assistant for tropical biology, 1965-1966.
Programs and bureaus under the administration of the Ecology Program of OES and its predecessor the SOE included the Chesapeake Bay Center for Field Biology (after 1970 the Chesapeake Bay Center for Environmental Studies), 1965-1969; the Center for Natural Areas, 1972-1974; and the Peace Corps Environmental Program, 1972-1974.