A century of statistical Ecology


As data and computing power have surged in recent decades, statistical modeling has become an important tool for understanding ecological patterns and processes. Statistical modeling in ecology faces two major challenges. First, ecological data may not conform to traditional methods, and second, professional ecologists often do not receive extensive statistical training. In response to these challenges, the journal Ecology has published many innovative statistical ecology papers that introduced novel modeling methods and provided accessible guides to statistical best practices. In this paper, we reflect on Ecology’s history and its role in the emergence of the subdiscipline of statistical ecology, which we define as the study of ecological systems using mathematical equations, probability, and empirical data. We showcase 36 influential statistical ecology papers that have been published in Ecology over the last century and, in so doing, comment on the evolution of the field. As data and computing power continue to increase, we anticipate continued growth in statistical ecology to tackle complex analyses and an expanding role for Ecology to publish innovative and influential papers, advancing the discipline and guiding practicing ecologists.