The Scope of Ecology

Free Response

Ecologists often collaborate with other researchers interested in ecological questions. Describe the levels of ecology that would be easier for collaboration because of the similarities of questions asked. What levels of ecology might be more difficult for collaboration?


Ecologists working in organismal or population ecology might ask similar questions about how the biotic and abiotic conditions affect particular organisms and, thus, might find collaboration to be mutually beneficial. Levels of ecology such as community ecology or ecosystem ecology might pose greater challenges for collaboration because these areas are very broad and may include many different environmental components.

The population is an important unit in ecology as well as other biological sciences. How is a population defined, and what are the strengths and weaknesses of this definition? Are there some species that at certain times or places are not in populations?


It is beneficial to consider a population to be all of the individuals living in the same area at the same time because it allows the ecologist to identify and study all of the abiotic and biotic factors that may affect the members of the population. However, this definition of a population could be considered a drawback if it prohibits the ecologist from studying a population’s individuals that may be transitory, but still influential. Some species with members that have a wide geographic range might not be considered to be a population, but could still have many of the qualities of a population.