Relationship Of Ecology With Other Disciplines
Modern ecology is a multidisciplinary science that depends on a variety of disciplines such as physics, chemistry, mathematics, statistics, metrology, climatology, geology, geography, economics, sociology, agriculture, forestry, horticulture, genetics, physiology, etc. All these disciplines have contributed to a better understanding of many ecological principles. For example, meteorological and climatological data for certain geographical locations make it possible to interpret the results more implicitly. Basic knowledge of forestry can be invaluable for forest ecologists to understand the distribution of forest types, the floristic composition and the prevalent environmental factors.
In the same way, statistical data help in the interpretation of reasons for activity, population increase, migration, probability of ecological events occurring in a particular area, sampling techniques and reliability of results. Palaeontology (geology) provides information on ancestral organisms and environmental situations prevalent in the past. Evolution and genetics are used to interpret the rationale for organic change when it comes to environmental conditions, the establishment of new populations and species, environmental effects on genetic populations and species, and so on. As a result, such interdisciplinary approaches to ecology have resulted in the following subdivisions of ecology:
- Ecological genetics: In the case of every organism, the ecologist recognised a kind of genetic plasticity. Only those organisms that are favoured by the environment survive in any environment. The branch of ecology dealing with genetics in the context of ecology is called ecological genetics.
- Palaeoecology: It deals with movements of biotic elements based on paleontological evidence, which provides information on ancestral organisms and the environmental conditions that have existed in the past.
- Ecophysiology: Environmental factors have a direct bearing on the functional aspects of organisms. Ecophysiology is concerned with the survival of populations as a result of the functional adaptation of organisms with different ecological conditions of the ecosystem.
- Chemical ecology: It deals with the adaptation of animals or the preferences of certain organisms, such as insects, to particular chemical substances.
- Pedology: It is a branch of terrestrial ecology and deals with soil studies, in particular their acidity, alkalinity, humus content, mineral content, soil type, etc., and their influence on organisms.
- Ecogeography: It deals with the study of the role of the environment in the distribution of animals. It is related to biogeography, which is concerned with the structural and functional relations of living space organisms that form the immediate environment of both individuals and populations. Ecoflora and ecofauna are the lowest units of which the biogeographic flora or fauna is composed.
- Ecological energetics: It deals with the conservation of energy and the flow of energy to organisms within the ecosystem. Thermodynamics has a significant contribution to it.
Because of its far-reaching involvement in so many fields, ecology is often seen as a generality rather than a speciality. Visualizing this, an ecologist, A. Macfadyen (1957) wrote in his book Animal Ecology: Purposes and Methods-“The ecologist is a chartered libertine. He wanders at will over the legitimate preserves of the plant and animal biologist, the taxonomist, the physiologist, the behaviourist, the meteorologist, the geologist, the physicist, the chemist, and even the sociologist; he roaches from all these disciplines and from other established and respected disciplines. It is indeed a major problem for the ecologist, in his own interest, to set limits to his divagations.
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