Ideas for Dividing up the field

ESA Sections (where potentially relevant):

Applied Ecology, Agroecology, Aquatic Ecology, Biogeosciences, Long-Term Studies, Microbial Ecology, Natural History, Paleoecology, Physiological Ecology, Plant Population Ecology, Rangeland Ecology, Soil Ecology, Statistical Ecology, Theoretical Ecology, Urban Ecosystem Ecology, Vegetation Section

Ecology Departments at universities:

The field and area of research an individual ecologists describes themselves as being a part of is highly heterogeneous and overlapping.

For example:

Researcher1: Aquatic ecosystem ecology, ecological stoichiometry, plankton ecology Researcher2: Plant conservation biology; plant evolutionary biology.                          Researcher3: Mechanics of molecular evolution; transmission genetics; asexual organisms and organelle genes.

However a few themes have been gleaned from casual visits to ecology department faculty pages. For example, University of Arizona has categorized each faculty by research interest:

  • behavior (learning, behavioral ecology, evolution of behavioral traits, physiology)
  • computational biology
  • conservation and global change
  • ecology (community structure, dispersal, dormancy, habitat selection)
  • ecosystem ecology and biogeochemistry
  • evolutionary biology (asexual organisms, speciation, multilevel selection, macroevolution, life histories, life history traits, evolvability, evolution of cooperation, evolution of sex)
  • form and function(allometry, biological scaling, biological stoichiometry, functional ecology, physiological ecology )
  • genetics, genes and molecules ((chromosomal evolution, evolutionary genetics, evolutionary genomics, genome evolution, molecular evolution, organelle genes, population genetics, quantitative genetics,  transmission genetics,  transposable elements)
  • macroecology (biodiversity biogeography)
  • population biology (reproductive ecology, population dynamics, population ecology)
  • species interactions (coevolution, endosymbioses, mutualism, symbioses)
  • systematics
  • theory, modeling, and philosophy (nonlinear, philosophy of biology, theory of habitat selection, theory of population dynamics)

NSF Funding Categories and DEB awards:

Division of Environmental Biology (DEB) has four main programs:

  • Ecosystem Science
  • Evolutionary Processes (supports subdivision Evolutionary Genetics Program and Evolutionary Ecology Program)


  • Population and Community Ecology
  • Systematics and Biodiversity Science (SBS)

A search in their programs list revealed other potential categories.

Topics from Ecology journals:

Ecology (ESA)- The journal publishes a broad array of research that includes a rapidly expanding envelope of subject matter, techniques, approaches, and concepts: paleoecology through present-day phenomena; evolutionary, population, physiological, community, and ecosystem ecology, as well as biogeochemistry; inclusive of descriptive, comparative, experimental, mathematical, statistical, and interdisciplinary approaches.

Ecology Letters (Wiley)-covers topics in Applied ecology, Behavioral ecology, Biodiversity, Conservation biology, Ecological genetics, Evolutionary biology, Landscape ecology, Microecology, Macroecology, Marine biology, Microbial ecology

Journal of Ecology (Wiley)- publishes papers on plant ecology (including algae) in both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. In addition to population and community ecology, articles on biogeochemistry, ecosystems ecology, microbial ecology, physiological plant ecology, climate change, molecular genetics, mycorrhizal ecology, and the interactions between plants and organisms such as animals or bacteria, are published regularly.

PNAS (National Academy of Sciences)- Publishes in three broad categories: Physical, Social, Biological Sciences with subcategories for each. Under Biological Sciences are: Agricultural Sciences, Anthropology, Applied Biological Sciences, Biochemistry, Biophysics and Computational Biology, Cell Biology, Developmental Biology, Ecology, Environmental Sciences, Evolution, Genetics, Immunology, Medical Sciences, Microbiology, Neuroscience, Pharmacology, Physiology, Plant Biology, Population Biology, Psychological and Cognitive Sciences, Sustainability Science*, and Systems Biology.

PLoS Biology (Public Library of Science): The journal features works of exceptional significance, originality, and relevance in all areas of biological science, from molecules to ecosystems, including works at the interface of other disciplines, such as chemistry, medicine, and mathematics. Our audience is the international scientific community as well as educators, policy makers, patient advocacy groups, and interested members of the public around the world.



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