Ecology is a Science

It could be said that education and conservation ought to be more clearly linked.

Education informs and empowers, so you can act based on the knowledge you gain. That knowledge can lead to a better understanding of how living things interact with each other and their environment. That understanding can then in turn help us change our behavior, or at least make us aware of what we’re doing, with a view to improving things for the world in which we live.

Flying Mammals
Bats are the only flying mammals and fall under the order of Chiroptera

The Stanley Park Ecology Society

The Stanley Park Ecology Society (SPES) works independently of the Vancouver Park Board. It is also a non-profit charity that has been around for 25 years.

Its mandate is to, “Promotes awareness of and respect for the natural world and plays a leadership role in the stewardship of Stanley Park through collaborative initiatives in education, research and conservation.”

I recently met with Krystal Pyke, public programs manager at SPES, to find out more about the science of ecology. Pyke has studied ecology and has a BSc in fish and wildlife biology and says that ecology is essentially, “The study of living things as a whole.”

She begins by telling us about ecology and how SPES teaches the fundamentals, “[SPES] focuses on teaching about how things are interrelated … our main goals are to reconnect people with nature through education and conservation initiatives.”

What makes British Columbia so unique?

As an, “Army kid,” Pyke has lived all over North America and points to British Columbia as being unique through that variety and diversity of live that is here. “The temperate rainforest makes [British Columbia] absolutely amazing forest habitat, and it’s right along a migratory fly route.”

In terms of Stanley Park itself, “Stanley Park is fantastic because it’s safe. We know there are no bears, cougars or large mammals … but there’s all this natural ecology that’s going on in here in old-growth forest.” She says.

What part do humans play?

This is a great subject for debate, and there’s no doubt that people have both healthy and unhealthy impacts on their local ecosystems. Pyke’s position is that humans can have a positive or negative effect, but that overall, there is still a lot to learn, “[People] don’t often see themselves as being part of the balance … what we try to do here at SPES in encourage that balance.”

“There’s lots of things that people can do in their own backyard … to learn more about ecology,” says Pyke, you could, “Plant native species instead of planting ornamentals and that not only promotes a healthier garden that you don’t have to weed, because they’re naturally occurring plants, but it also promotes wildlife habitat.”

What is the difference between an ecologist and an environmentalist?

Are they different? Are they the same? Which are you?

I extend my gratitude to SPES for its noble work and Krystal Pyke for her time and candid conversation. For further excerpts from our interview about the Creatures of the Night program, please see

Wael Elazab

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