Autecology because it is concerned with the relationship of an organism to one or more variables such as light, temperature, moisture, or salinity, is easily quantified and subject to experimental design both in the laboratory and in the field. Synecology is largely descriptive and not easily subject to experimental design.
Autecology has borrowed techniques from physics and chemistry. Synecology, on the other hand, has entered a strong experimental phase in recent years, with the development of such tools as computers and radioactive tracers (R. L. Smith, 1977).
Autecology has great significance for the following economic biological disciplines: economic botany which includes agriculture, horticulture, silviculture and forestry; and economic zoology that includes pisciculture, prawn fishery, pearl culture, animal husbandary, apiculture, sericulture, etc.
It is also important for soil conservation and wild life conservation. Before one proceeds to cultivate any organism of economic or any other significance, he must be well aware to all the requirements of that species for its best possible growth in the environment. Further, autecology gives an idea of distribution, adaptation, speciation, etc., of a particular species.
For instance, one finds in nature so many species living in various habitats. Some species are confined to limited areas due to limited characteristics of adaptation, whereas others may grow in different habitat conditions due to having a wide range of ecological adaptations. To find out the answers of some such questions, one has to study autecology of the species.
There exists an intimate interrelationship between the individual organism and its surrounding environment. For example, each stage in the life cycle of a plant is greatly influenced by a number of environmental factors and conversely, species does modify continuously the environment.
In fact, the requirements of germination growth, flowering, fruiting, leaf fall, etc., are met with at the same place, but at different times of the year. There occurs so much synchronization in the phonological behaviour of the species and the different factors of the environment that the plants are often termed as biological clocks or ecological clocks.
The biological clocks are said to be regulated by external signals from the environment (external timing hypothesis), and such clocks are ecologically much advantageous since these couple environmental and physiological rhythms and enable the organism to anticipate daily, seasonal and other periodicities in light, temperature and, tides, etc.
In fact, autecology is based on the study of the ecological life history which is concerned with the activities of a species throughout its life cycle, and in relation to its adjustments to natural conditions (S.C. Kendeigh, 1974).