Ecology, due to its stunning complexity, is a science without much in the way of laws, but there are some rules…. rules that determine what can happen, what can’t happen, and, sometimes, what will or will not happen (i.e., actual laws).
Generally speaking, though, these are rules that allow or guide but don’t necessarily require or prevent.
Also – just to note that “science”, here, is meant as a system where generalities (like rules or laws – or theories) are supported (or not) by reproducible observations (from the field or the lab; via experiments or other kinds of studies), or other kinds of direct evidence. Additionally, there is generally a proposed mechanism (that is, a cause for the effect – a “because clause”, if you will) whose validity can be tested by comparing systems with and without the proposed cause, and determining if, respectively, the effect is present in the former and absent from the latter.
It is also a system where terms are clearly defined (or, at least, definable) and, generally and preferably, directly connected to physical phenomena.
And, natural history – or qualitative, or narrative, or anecdotal – studies are an excellent fit for ecology, as they highlight that each data point is truly unique. This makes for an excellent complement to “big data” research, as that statistical style of research looks for (or assumes, even) similarity (or fungibility, even) of data points.
Big data needs little data, and little data needs big data.