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Ecology: Definition & Ecological Fallacy Essay

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Updated: Mar 29th, 2022


Ecology as a scientific discipline comprehensively covers global processes and the study of habits of marines, animals, and plants. It also covers specific adaptations and reactions of these species to their natural surroundings. This paper will try to explore the definitions of ecology and ecological fallacy. (Townsend, et al., 2005).

Detailed definition of ecology and ecological fallacy

Ecology is the study of the relations that living things have with respect to each other and their physical surroundings. An organism in this context is any living thing such as animals, microorganisms, fungus, or plants that responds to environmental change, reproduction, growth, and development. Ecological study is not closely associated with environment, natural history, or environmental science in any form. However, it is in close connection to four basic studies, which are physiological ecology, population ecology, community ecology, and ecosystems ecology. Physiological ecology is a branch of ecology concerned with the response of living organisms to environmental elements such as light and temperature (Berkman & Kawachi, 2000). Population ecology is the study of ecology focusing on the abundance and spread of individual living organisms and the resulting factors that cause this distribution. Community ecology deals with the number of living organisms found within a given area and their interactions. Ecosystems ecology is the study of the structure and the overall set of microbes, animals and plants and their physical environment (Townsend, et al., 2005).

Ecologists seek to address five basic issues namely, life processes and adaptations, the spread and abundance of living organisms and the movement of materials and energy in living things. Other issues addressed are the succession growth of ecosystem and the abundance and spread of biodiversity in the environmental context. From the human science perspective, Human ecology is a branch of ecology that deals with the relationship between individual persons and communities with their respective social environments. This may involve the application of ecology in conservation biology, natural science management, community health, wetland management, city planning and the social interaction of human (Townsend, et al., 2005).

Ecological fallacy is a condition that occurs when a researcher or analyst obtains a claim concerning individual with respect to his/her observation of aggregate data of a group. Fallacy in this context refers to false argument in justification resulting in misconception. It is an anomaly which emerges when someone apply statistical data incorrectly (Changing Minds, 2011). A conclusion made from data collected here depends upon the aggregate data collected for a specific group. A good example of ecological fallacy is, a researcher may closely inspects the group data of a given city’s income and realize that the average income of the city residents is $40,000. This information may be true, but ecological fallacy can occur when the researcher re-states that the people’s earning in the area is about $40,000. This may be false and is referred to as ecological fallacy based on the previous statement (Hall, 2010).

Examples of ecological fallacy

Exception fallacy

This usually happens when researchers use statistics concerning an individual to provide conclusion on a group of people. This often occurs when the researcher or analyst happens to be in a hurry when classifying a group of people. The researcher may opt to use the little information he/she have even when sometimes the information is statistically invalid. Example of exception fallacy is when a train passenger in the first-class compartment appears rude and arrogant to his colleague who walks into the same compartment. The colleague then makes a conclusion that all first-class passengers are arrogant (Hall, 2010).


This is a type of ecological fallacy, which assumes the groups are of the same kind and nature. A stereotype is a generalization concerning a group of population whereby a defined set of features to this group takes an attribute. For example, when diagnosis done to a group of students in a given school is shows the group has lower IQ average compared to the overall student population, it is wrong to assume that all the group members have a lower IQ compared to the whole student population (Hall, 2010).


The study of ecology should not just be taken as a collection of principles and ideas that one learn in class or perhaps read from a book as it may be taken. It is more of a method of scrutinizing at the world with emphasis on the assessment and knowledge of how different species socially match together and how each species influences one another (Hall, 2010).


Berkman, F. L., & Kawachi, I. (2000). Social Epidemiology. 1st ed. New York: Oxford University Press.

Changing Minds. (2011). changingminds.org. Web.

Hall, C. (2010). Ecological energetic: Encyclopedia of Earth. Eds.Cutler J. Cleveland. eoearth.org. Web.

Townsend, C. R., et al. (2005). Ecology: From individuals to ecosystems. 4th ed. Wiley-Blackwell.

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