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Ecology, environmental protection and nature conservation - for a green future

Ecology is a subdiscipline of biology that examines the interrelationships of organisms and their environment.

Ecology as a generic term for the overall relationship between living beings and the environment

Environmental protection and nature conservation are elements of ecology. Because environmental awareness has been on the rise since the middle of the 20th century, the term ecology is frequently used in the same breath as environmental protection andnature conservation. There is a demarcation line however. Ecology describes the relationship between living beings and the environment, while environmental protection and nature conservation involve measures aimed at preserving the environment. Although ecology research is a broad field, it can be broken down into three main subdisciplines :

  • Population ecology
  • Community ecology
  • Ecological system analyses

At a high level, ecology involves the propagation and frequency of organisms. Where do they come from? What type of organism did they originate from? How many are there? And where do they appear? The goal of ecological analyses is providing answers to these questions. Biotic and abiotic environmental factors that can influence the environment are also part any ecological analysis. What makes ecological research so difficult is the complexity of the biological systems. Individual observations serve less as focal points and more as general conclusions produced from mathematics, statistics or experiments. A vital part of ecology is reducing complex structures to simple conclusions based on natural science.

Environmental protection and its subdisciplines

While ecology takes a holistic approach, environmental protectionmainly involves measures aimed at preserving the basic existence of all living beings. This calls for maintaining a healthy ecosystem. For this reason, nature conservation plays a leading role in ecology as well as in environmental protection. A basic element of environmental protection involves rectifying human-induced damage to the environment. As a result, this requires observing not only the individual parts, but the overall relationships between the parts as well, The term environmental protection first gained attention in the 1970s. One of the primary goals of environmental protection is preserving the human ecosystem. Although preservation of the human ecosystem is a major aspect of environmental protection, technical solutions are still frequently employed. Environmental protection can be divided into several disciplines:

  • climate protection as a subdiscipline of environmental protection
  • forest protection as a subdiscipline of environmental protection
  • water protection as a subdiscipline of environmental protection

From a global point of view,environmental protection is always related to one of these subdisciplines.

Nature conservation as a demarcation line between environmental protection and ecology

Apart from ecology and environmental protection, an important area is nature conservation. Although environmental protection and nature conservation typically complement one another, there are certain exceptions. In the field of ecology, renewable raw materials such as wood are points of conflict between nature conservation and environmental protection. While nature conservation demands that trees be preserved as long as possible and eventually turned into deadwood for the ecosystem of a variety of animals, environmental protection views wood as a sustainable energy source and raw material. Environmental protection also seeks to avoid the radical deforesting of lands and forests. Within nature conservation there are also initiatives that oppose wind power and small hydropower systems. Under the context of nature conservation, the idea is to impact nature as little as possible. Nature conservation is also a local issue. Nature conservation frequently involves single locations. As it pertains to ecology, nature conservation examines ways to preserve and reestablish a balanced ecosystem. Nature conservation strives toward sustainable human use of our natural environment. Nature conservation is a goal of government and is established in Article 20a of the German constitution. Nature conservation also means the protection of animals and homelands. Many individuals also view nature conservation as important, because they understand the dramatic consequences if society is not actively engaged in nature conservation.

Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

This complex theme deals primarily with interactions between organisms and the environmental factors that impact them, but to a greater extent between individual inanimate environmental factors.

innovations-report offers informative reports and articles on topics such as climate protection, landscape conservation, ecological systems, wildlife and nature parks and ecosystem efficiency and balance.

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Climate change effects are already being felt in Austria: A new report shows how rising temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, and melting glaciers have affected the country and what lies in store for the future.

The Austrian Climate Change Assessment Report (AAR14), released today, is the first national-level climate report that mirrors the breadth and rigor of the...

17.09.2014 | nachricht Read more

Contaminated water in 2 states linked to faulty shale gas wells

Flawed well casings and cement blamed for drinking water contaminationin Pennsylvania and Texas

Faulty well integrity, not hydraulic fracturing deep underground, is the primary cause of drinking water contamination from shale gas extraction in parts of...

15.09.2014 | nachricht Read more

Rules of thumb for climate change turned upside down

Based on models and observations, climate scientists have devised a simplified formula to describe one of the consequences of climate change: regions already marked by droughts will continue to dry out in the future climate. Regions that already have a moist climate will experience additional rainfall. In short: dry gets drier; wet gets wetter (DDWW).

However, this formula is less universally valid than previously assumed. This was demonstrated by a team of ETH climate researchers led by Peter Greve, lead...

15.09.2014 | nachricht Read more

Volunteer ‘eyes on the skies’ track peregrine falcon recovery in California

Datasets from long-running volunteer survey programs, calibrated with data from sporadic intensive monitoring efforts, have allowed ecologists to track the recovery of peregrine falcons in California and evaluate the effectiveness of a predictive model popular in the management of threatened species.

In recovery from the deadly legacy of DDT, American peregrine falcons (Falco peregrines anatum) faced new uncertainty in 1992, when biologists proposed to stop...

12.09.2014 | nachricht Read more

Pesticides are more toxic for soil organisms in dry soil and at enhanced temperatures

Soil organisms react more sensitive to marketable pesticides when exposed in dry soil and at enhanced temperatures. Both conditions may occur more often in the future due to climate change. Singularly and combined these factors lower the toxicity threshold of fungicides for springtails.

The study by scientists from the LOEWE Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F), the Goethe University and the ECT Oekotoxikologie GmbH was published...

11.09.2014 | nachricht Read more

Ecologist Stresses Importance of Wetlands, Grasslands in Midwest

South Dakota ecologist earns National Wetlands Research Award

Wetlands may be the least understood ecosystem, but their value is immense, according to Distinguished Professor W. Carter Johnson of the South Dakota State...

10.09.2014 | nachricht Read more

Integrated Water Cycle in Indian Cities

Short Rotation Plantation irrigated with wastewater lead to a sustainable and integrated solution for India´s wood and water scarcity and wastewater treatment. Now scientists test a novel pilot facility in Nagpur, India.

In order to cope with water shortages in urban areas, there is a need for a paradigm shift from conventional end-of-pipe water management to an integrated...

10.09.2014 | nachricht Read more

How does underwater noise affect harbour porpoises?

Researchers investigate the effects of noise pollution on harbour porpoises in the North and Baltic Seas.

Researchers from the Institute for Terrestrial and Aquatic Wildlife Research (ITAW) of the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover Foundation (TiHo) are...

09.09.2014 | nachricht Read more

Agricultural revolution in Africa could increase global carbon emissions

Productivity-boosting agricultural innovations in Africa could lead to an increase in global deforestation rates and carbon emissions, a Purdue University study finds.

Historically, improvements in agricultural technology have conserved land and decreased carbon emissions at the global level: Gaining better yields in one area...

09.09.2014 | nachricht Read more

Dietary Recommendations May Be Tied to Increased Greenhouse Gas Emissions

If Americans altered their menus to conform to federal dietary recommendations, emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases tied to agricultural production could increase significantly, according to a new study by University of Michigan researchers.

Martin Heller and Gregory Keoleian of U-M's Center for Sustainable Systems looked at the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production of about 100...

08.09.2014 | nachricht Read more
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Im Focus: Apps for Electric Cars

Siemens is equipping electric cars with completely redesigned information and communications technology (ICT).

Basically, the idea is to control a variety of vehicle functions on a uniform, centralized computer platform instead of providing every system with its own...

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Astronomers using data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and ground observation have found an unlikely object in an improbable place -- a monster black hole lurking inside one of the tiniest galaxies ever known.

The black hole is five times the mass of the one at the center of our Milky Way galaxy. It is inside one of the densest galaxies known to date -- the M60-UCD1...

Im Focus: A reactive human model increases traffic safety and helps crash test dummies do their job

Every day, nearly 75 people lose their lives on Europe’s roads. The Austrian VIRTUAL VEHICLE Research Center is developing a new human model for use in simulating accident scenarios.

Research partners in this undertaking are the Graz University of Technology and industrial partners such as Audi, BMW, Daimler, Porsche and Volkswagen. This...

Im Focus: The Future Face of Molecular Electronics

Thin layer of picene molecules attached to a silver surface maintain their structure and function, demonstrating potential for electronic applications

The emerging field of molecular electronics could take our definition of portable to the next level, enabling the construction of tiny circuits from molecular...

Im Focus: Arctic: Current Sea Ice Situation

Ongoing Retreat in the Arctic, new maximum in the Antarctic

The area of sea ice in the Arctic fell to a summer minimum of around 5.0 million square kilometres this year, which is about 1.6 million square kilometres more...

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