What is Autoecology?

Meaning of Autoecology

Autoecology studies the relationships of a single species or an individual with its environment , ignoring the interactions of this species with other species.

It defines the tolerance limits and preferences of a species and investigates the influence of the environment on its morphology, physiology and behavior.

Autoecology is the area of ​​ecology that is interested in studying each species, whether animal or plant, reacts separately to certain environmental factors, such as climate, vegetation.

It is a classical scientific branch with few adherents today.

Autoecology is the classic study within ecology , because in early research, ecologists carried out the study of species individually.

For example: the ecology of the manatee, the ecology of a particular plant species, etc. Later, ecologists began to realize the importance of analyzing the relationships between different species .


Autoecology is more easily quantified and is useful in field and laboratory research. Because that focuses on the relationship of a given species with only one or more variables, such as climate, vegetation.

Autoecological Studies

In autoecological studies , direct observation of the animal or plant in the natural environment, or experimentation, which is the study of individual behavior by controlling factors, can be carried out.

In a plant species, for example, the distribution of individuals by size classes and life stages, spatial distribution and abundance can be evaluated.

Relating these factors with environmental variables, such as soil moisture, slope, sunshine, temperature, precipitation, etc.

For an animal species, autoecological studies can investigate this species’ feeding habit, reproductive cycle, geographic distribution, habitat use, etc. Thus verify how these factors are influenced by some of the various environmental variables .

This type of study is based on a mechanistic view, considering that the study of the parts is the best way to understand the whole.

But, since it does not consider the ecosystem as a whole, autoecology is currently considered a limited area.

This limitation was noted with the emergence of the holistic view , which prioritizes the understanding of phenomena in an integrated manner, seeking to understand a given ecosystem through the interaction between its various components.

Consider that the parts are coordinated by the whole and when they are together they behave differently than when they are apart.

Despite having its limitations, autoecology remains a widely used scientific branch . He contributed at least two important concepts.

The constant interaction between an organism and its environment and the genetic adaptability of populations to the environmental factors of the place where they live.

Autoecological studies provide important data to establish strategies for the management and conservation of natural populations of a given species.

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