Inability to solve applied ecological problems is argued to depend on inherent variability in intra- and interspecific interactions caused by individual utilisation of a variety of local environments, and on individual counter-adaptations towards limiting or regulating factors. Such biological diversification is largely a response to environmental heterogeneity. Empirical and theoretical analyses of ecological mechanisms in various gradients of interaction and adaptation should result in improved use of ecological insight. Due to the many gradients, to the locally determined processes and to covert genetic variation very precise predictions of the outcome of ecological interactions will never be possible. Instead of focussing on possible general laws, ecology may try to establish common responses in population and community dynamics to main environmental gradients, particularly with regard to habitats and ecosystems.