Ecology is a subdiscipline of biology that examines the interrelationships of organisms and their 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 :
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.
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:
From a global point of view,environmental protection is always related to one of these subdisciplines.
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.
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.
Untreated ballast water discharge from ships can spread living organisms and even pathogens across the world thereby introducing non-native or invasive species into the local environment. Scientists at Helmholtz Zentrum München therefore recommend using physical treatment processes such as filtration rather than electrochemical disinfection, which creates countless potentially toxic compounds. These are the findings of a recent study published in the journal ‘Environmental Science and Technology’.
In order to prevent the transfer of harmful organisms, ships’ ballast water is often subjected to electrochemical disinfection.* “However, our analyses show...30.07.2015 | Read more
Drugs in wastewater contaminate sources of drinking water
Both prescription and illegal drugs such as morphine, cocaine and oxycodone have been found in surface waters in Canadian rivers. New research from McGill...28.07.2015 | Read more
The health of Colorado's bighorn sheep population remains as precarious as the steep alpine terrain the animals inhabit, but a new study led by researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder has found that inbreeding--a common hypothesis for a recent decline--likely isn't to blame.
Bighorn herds tend to be small and isolated in their mountain ecosystems, putting the animals at high risk for a genetic "bottleneck," said Catherine Driscoll,...27.07.2015 | Read more
Wildlife Conservation Society and the Royal Government of Cambodia’s Fisheries Administration announced today that 21 captive-raised southern river terrapins have been released back into their native habitat in southwest Cambodia.
- Species believed extinct in Cambodia until rediscovery in 200016.07.2015 | Read more
How flowers use scent and nectar to manipulate pollinators and herbivores
Some pollinators not only provide fertilization services for flowering plants, they also lay their eggs on the plants’ leaves after they have visited the...15.07.2015 | Read more
Researchers fear a fundamental change in the oceans – even if greenhouse emissions are successfully reduced
Our oceans need an immediate and substantial reduction of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. If that doesn’t happen, we could see far-reaching and largely...03.07.2015 | Read more
Conservation biologists investigate human-wildlife conflicts near Golestan National Park in Iran
In the surroundings of wildlife conservation areas, human-wildlife conflicts over livestock predation are common. One example is the Golestan National Park in...02.07.2015 | Read more
The role of plant traits might be overestimated by biologists in studies on plant invasiveness. Anthropogenic factors such as whether the spcies was being cultivated proved to be more important. These conclusions were made from a study on Central European plants that were introduced by humans to North America and over time became naturalised in this continent. Naturalisation of new plant species, a process that makes it a permanent member of the local flora, most strongly depends on residence time in the invaded range and the number of habitats occupied by species in their native range, researchers reported in the journal Ecology.
The study was jointly conducted by scientists from The Czech Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic (AV ČR) and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental...01.07.2015 | Read more
The evolution of birds on the Galápagos Islands, the cradle of Darwin's theory of evolution, is a two-speed process. Most bird species are still diversifying, while the famous Darwin's finches have already reached an equilibrium, in which new species can only appear when an existing one becomes extinct. This finding expands the classical theory on island evolution put forward in the 1960s. The study is published online on June 23 in Ecology Letters.
Islands are seen as natural laboratories for the study of evolution. They form isolated ecosystems with barriers to migration. Classical Island Theory predicts...23.06.2015 | Read more
Poor management led to overcrowded, older trees with little understory
Most of us don’t consider forests a source of pollution. As natural bodies, they should be good for the environment. But a recent study in Japan shows that...15.06.2015 | Read more
Using ultracold atoms trapped in light crystals, scientists from the MPQ, LMU, and the Weizmann Institute observe a novel state of matter that never thermalizes.
What happens if one mixes cold and hot water? After some initial dynamics, one is left with lukewarm water—the system has thermalized to a new thermal...
Physicists from Regensburg and Marburg, Germany have succeeded in taking a slow-motion movie of speeding electrons in a solid driven by a strong light wave. In the process, they have unraveled a novel quantum phenomenon, which will be reported in the forthcoming edition of Nature.
The advent of ever faster electronics featuring clock rates up to the multiple-gigahertz range has revolutionized our day-to-day life. Researchers and...
Researchers have developed an ultrafast light-emitting device that can flip on and off 90 billion times a second and could form the basis of optical computing.
Joint BioEnergy Institute study identifies bacterial protein that is key to protecting rice against bacterial blight
A bacterial signal that when recognized by rice plants enables the plants to resist a devastating blight disease has been identified by a multi-national team...
Researchers in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin are one step closer to delivering smart windows with a new level of energy efficiency, engineering materials that allow windows to reveal light without transferring heat and, conversely, to block light while allowing heat transmission, as described in two new research papers.
By allowing indoor occupants to more precisely control the energy and sunlight passing through a window, the new materials could significantly reduce costs for...
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