Ecology and the ecosystem
The earth consists of a set of spheres enclosing one another as shown in Figure 1, and biologists investigate the biosphere. Ecology, literally the study of the household, is an attempt to understand the relationships between organisms, and their interactions with their habitats. Ecologists use all other branches of biology as well as the techniques of most sciences. Every observed effect is the often surprising result of the interaction of many variables. Hence unravelling the chains of causality involved, or predicting future changes from past observations is very difficult. Ecology was once described by an Oxford professor as ‘the pursuit of the insoluble by the incompetent’!
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Suggestions for further reading
- Elton, C. S., The Pattern of Animal Communities (Methuen, 1966 )Google Scholar
- Ford, E. B., Ecological Genetics (Methuen). 4th ed. (1975)Google Scholar
- Kuhn, T. S., The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Univ. of Chicago).Google Scholar
- Popper, K. R., Objective Knowledge—An Evolutionary Approach (Oxford ). (1972)Google Scholar
- Pryor, L. D., The Biology of Eucalypts (Arnold). (1979)Google Scholar
- Tansley, Sir A. G., Britain’s Green Mantle (Allen and Unwin). 2nd ed. (1968)Google Scholar