DE: Hinweis für Besucher, die Texte in deutscher Sprache suchen: Eine zweisprachige Webseite ist für die Zukunft geplant. Zum Einstieg gibt es hier eine Kolumne, die ich zusammen mit Susan Mücke für Krautreporter verfasst habe.

So, I am an ecologist.

"What exactly do ecologists do?" you might ask.

Well, they study ecology using the classic scientific tools of observation and experimentation. Ecology is a relatively young subfield of biology that deals with biological interactions and how these interactions constrain the distribution and abundance of individuals and populations of all kinds of organisms. Outside of academia, ecology is often misleadingly confused with environmentalism. Actually, ecology and environmentalism are not independent of each other nor are they, by any means, the opposite sides of the same coin. I would rather say that environmentalism is an applied subdiscipline of ecology. Hence, the existence of ecology without environmentalism is possible theoretically (though not at all desirable from my point of view), while legitimate and serious environmentalism is impossible without the information gathered by sound ecological science!

As an animal ecologist I am particularly interested in the interactions of predators and their prey not only because this kind of biological interactions is probably the most charismatic, and investigating predator-prey interactions in the lab or in the field can be real fun. Besides, understanding predator-prey interactions is vital for the future of human food supply and studying them gives us important insights into the core principles of evolution. Moreover, predators and their prey are the building blocks of food webs which are amongst the most complex networks in nature. Last but not least, (top) predators are usually amongst the largest and at the same time rarest animals with the highest risk of extinction.

Field sampling of tropical fishes in Germany