Sunday, 13 November 2016

Why Ecology?

It’s been awhile since I have posted and that is due to how incredibly busy I have become over the last few weeks. I decided last year to top up my skills and take a second Masters course. After some searching, I found an interesting course run by Ulster University in Environmental Management with GIS. This course started in September and coincided with two other short courses I was taking via Coursera – Capstone projects in GIS and Biodiversity (Theories, Measures and Data Sampling measures).

I find all this studying, which some might find laborious endlessly fascinating. In fact, I would say that studying is my second favourite thing after being outside in nature. It got me thinking about why I love the subject of ecology so much.

I have always been interested in natural history from a very early age. My parents would take me and my sister for walks in the country and my Aunt got me into birdwatching. The more I saw the more I wanted to see and the more I wanted to know. The amazing thing about ecology is its complexity. Every piece of behaviour and distribution of a species is a result of hundreds of variables, climate, altitude, shelter, food, and predation and so on.
Last week Attenborough’s sequel to Planet Earth started. I have seen thousands of hours of wildlife footage and read reams on animal behaviour and yet every time the BBC finds something new to enthral me. In particular, I became transfixed by the baby Marine Iguanas and the Racing Snakes of the Galapagos. The footage was incredible and the story riveting but as I watched I could feel the ecologist stirring in me, questions began to form. The snakes seemed to by laying traps, was this collaborative behaviour with reasoned thoughts or was their positioning purely luck as a result of failed chases.

Like all of science, ecology offers more questions to every solution and that is perhaps this depth that attracts me. 

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