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Practising science: Reading the rocks and ecology
Practising science: Reading the rocks and ecology

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Ecology is the study of the interactions between organisms and their environment (including other organisms). An understanding of ecology is important to inform environmental decision-making.

Soil pH influences the availability of mineral nutrients to plants and hence the distribution of different plant species. Some species may be classified as either calcicoles or calcifuges.

Variation in salinity, exposure to desiccation and biotic interactions (e.g. grazing) influence the zonation of seaweeds and animals on rocky shores.

Field studies usually involve the collection of quantitative data in as objective a way as possible. Transects are often taken across field sites where some sort of environmental gradient is suspected. Quadrats at various scales, including point quadrats, are used to estimate frequency or the proportion of area occupied by different plant species. Time counts may be used to sample organisms that move.