Ecology

Abstract

Ecology is composed of a remarkably diverse set of scientific disciplines. There are many different sub-fields in ecology—physiological, behavioral, evolutionary, population, community, ecosystem, and landscape ecology. Clearly, no summary will do them all justice. However, for the present context, ecology as a science can be divided into three basic areas—population, community, and ecosystem ecology. This entry will introduce some of the fundamental philosophical issues raised by these three disciplines. The first order of business is to ask what is the science of ecology, and more importantly, what is it not (see Brennan 1988). Sometimes the term ‘ecology’ is treated as synonymous or coextensive with three different concepts or sets of concepts: • The science of ecology: the study of organisms and groups of them and their relation to their environment.

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