How does ecology relate to evolutionary biology?

1 Answer
Apr 8, 2016

Ecosystems, and species within them, that undergo some kind of climate or similar disruptive change are forced to adapt or go extinct.


When the concept of ecosystems was first developed (and not linked to evolution) biologists tended to think of ecosystem as dynamic within the ecosystem, but largely unchanging over long periods of time.

For example, in the 19th and 20th century when national parks were developed there was a policy approach that was to "preserve" them forever - kind of like putting a glass bubble over them. So, further, when forest fires hit, they would spend huge amounts of money to stamp out every single fire, It was only later on in the 1990s or so and beyond that ecologists realized the forests need to burn once in awhile and its part of their dynamic nature.

Linking ecosystems with evolution made biologists realize that if the climate was not changing too much for several hundred or thousand years, the ecosystem was in dynamic equilibrium and species were not changing that much. However, when periods of great change happen, species must either move (if they can) to other regions like the ones they evolved in or face extinction. With human made climate change we are imposing a time of great change on all of the world's ecosystems and there will be winners and losers.