Ecology is the study of interactions of organisms among themselves and with their environment. It seeks to understand patterns in nature (e.g., the spatial and temporal distribution of organisms) and the processes governing those patterns. Climatology is the study of the physical State or the atmosphere — its instantaneous State, or weather, its seasonal-to-inter annual variability, its long-term average condition or climate, and how changes over time. These two fields of scientific study are distinctly different. Ecology is a discipline within the biological sciences and has as its core the principle of natural selection. Climatology is a discipline within the geophysical sciences based applied physics and fluid dynamics. Both, however, share a common history.
The origin of these is attributed to the Greek scholars Aristotle and Theophrastus and their books meteorological and Enquiry into Plants, respectively, but their modern beginnings trace back to natural history and plant geography. Seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth century naturalists and geographers saw changes in vegetation as they explored new regions and laid the foundation for the development of ecology and climatology as they sought explanations for these geographic patterns. Alexander van Hurnboldt, in the early 1800s, observed that widely separated regions have structurally and functionally similar vegetation if their climate are similar. Alphonse de Candolle hypothesized that latitudinal zones of tropical, temperate, and arctic vegetation are caused by temperature and in 1874 proposed formal vegetation zones with associated temperature limits.