Physical Biologists and Biological Physicists: Combining Biology and Physics in Research on the Effects of Noise on Aquatic Life
Research into the effects of noise on aquatic life is interdisciplinary, requiring expertise from the physical as well as the biological scientists. This paper examines how physicists and biologists differ in their approach to research and how these differences need to be reconciled if interdisciplinary research is to be effective and avoid major pitfalls. Physicists (in classical physics) are used to dealing with relatively simple systems, and it is often possible to find deterministic ways of describing the systems (e.g., with mathematical models tested by measurement). Biologists deal with more complex systems that include a greater degree of randomness and usually have to treat their data statistically. There is no hard and fast division, however, and physicists can learn from the biologists and vice versa, and this is most effective when they work together.