Ecology is dangerous, it puts in your mind strange ideas like "the limits of growth" (1972). The problem needed a radical solution, and McGill (was he?) invented R so that those that are doing ecology stopped thinking altogether.
Of course statistics is dramatically useful, but that was not the main reason for overemphasise on "quantitative! skills (many methods derive from psychometry). Luckili, I think that in very short time AI will break into ecology and we will through all this rwiddling.