Why Ecologists Need Systematics: Importance of Systematics to Ecological Research


  • V. R. Ferris
  • J. M. Ferris


Ecologists are concerned with population dynamics of organisms and with the spatial patterns of single or multiple populations. The goal of the ecologist is usually to explain the observed patterns in terms of processes. Field samples of nematodes from different habitats may contain similar but not identical specimens of a nominal taxon, and the systematist can help the ecologist decide whether the specimens are ecophenotypes of a single taxon or represent distinct species. A correct decision may be important or trivial, depending on the parameters and goals of the ecological study. When a precise identification is crucial to the success of the study, new biochemical methodologies of systematists may provide rapid and accurate diagnoses. Systematists can provide additional help in the assignment of taxa to trophic groups. For clarifying host-parasite associations, often a goal in ecological investigations, modern analytical methods of systematists can facilitate the ordering of systematic relationships. Key words: coevolution, nematode species, taxa, trophic group.