Historical Background of Ecological Modelling and Its Importance for Modern Ecology
The chapter outlines major routes of development leading to the current spectrum of concepts and applications in ecological modelling. The field is closely linked to achievements in other sciences, in particular physics, numerics, computer science, and cross-disciplinary adoption of ideas. Ecological modelling emerged initially as a relatively homogeneous field and mainly employed differential equations which originated in classical mechanics. Quantitative ecological dynamics were initially described in a formal analogy to physical processes. In the last few decades, the methodological repertoire in ecological modelling was successively expanded. Nowadays, the whole range of quantitative methods available in numerical mathematics can be seen as a foundation for future model development in ecology. Some pioneers in the field are briefly introduced and their contributions linked to some of the mainstreams and sidelines of the state-of-the-art in ecological sciences. The overview provided here will not be able to provide historical completeness but attempts to facilitate an understanding of the origin of the major approaches presented in this book and how they obtained their role in current ecological modelling.