Is ‘Ecology’ simply ‘Geography’ under another Name?* As any ecology textbook will tell, the e-word dates back to the 1880s.
However, in recent decades it has captured the news-media, politics, and academe. But is it simply old wine in new bottles? Geography has long been concerned with the landscape effects of interactions between humans, vegetation, animals, and the non-living elements such as air, soil, and water. Some geography teachers complain that their discipline is being neglected, in favour of more trendy versions (IAG Newsletter No. 57, p.17).
A fast growing area of ecology is ‘landscape ecology’, which brings history into play to understand landscapes. Have we come full circle, back to geography (maps) and history (chaps)? Am I missing something? Is scale an essential difference, with geography broad, and ecology detailed? Is there, perhaps, a quasi-religious tendency in ecology, whereas geography looks at the plain facts? Do ecologists tend to dislike humans? Is one discipline a subset of the other? Are they both actually disciplines? I hope some incisive minds out there will sort this out.
Davey Gam Esq.