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.
Marine biologist from Warnemünde presents indicator for the state of foodwebs in the Baltic Sea on the basis of long-term data series on the composition of spring blooms
The European Union declared it their target to re-establish a „good ecological status“ in European seas by 2020. Quite a challenging task! But what actually is...21.08.2017 | Read more
Sewage sludge contains lots of valuable elements which are prized as fertiliser for use in agriculture. Phosphorus in particular is an important nutrient for plants. Researchers at Landshut University of Applied Sciences are therefore looking at ways in which wastewater treatment facilities can use sewage sludge effectively, particularly in rural areas. They are doing this in conjunction with partners based in the Czech Republic.
The sludge that settles in sedimentation tanks is full of valuable substances like phosphorus, nitrogen or potassium. For this reason, it is often used in...16.08.2017 | Read more
Assessing the state of an ecosystem solely on the basis of short-term changes in the number of different species it contains can lead to false conclusions. This is according to a new analysis by an international team including researchers of the Helmholtz Institute for Functional Marine Biodiversity (HIFMB) at the University of Oldenburg and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv). In order to assess ecosystems in a way that is meaningful for nature conservation, experts should instead analyse the turnover of species within a system. The research, based on a mathematical model and environmental data analysis, is published online in the "Journal of Applied Ecology".
A growing number of species are under threat of extinction – in particular due to global environmental changes. Political instruments such as the International...01.08.2017 | Read more
How can we ensure forest protection and sustainable forest biomass production at the same time? A first-ever global map of certified forest areas, based on a participatory and collaborative mapping approach, contributes to the answer.
Using forest biomass products—such as timber, fuel wood, or paper—in a sustainable manner, without exhausting resources or diminishing forest biodiversity,...27.06.2017 | Read more
Using the acacia as an example, researchers show that the location has an effect on interaction with other species
Acacia longifolia, which is native to Australia, is a species which was cultivated in Portugal primarily to stabilize dunes and as an ornamental plant; now it...26.06.2017 | Read more
As with humans, most animals prefer to associate with some individuals and not with others. The social structure can influence how a population responds to changes in its environment. Examining social networks is a promising technique for understanding, predicting and – if for the better – manipulating this structure. However, whereas the contribution of behavioural biology to conservation is already well recognized, the usefulness of animal social network analysis as a conservation tool has not yet been addressed.
A group of behavioural ecologists led by Lysanne Snijders from the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) outlines how the...23.06.2017 | Read more
With their Tasini project, Roger Spranz, a PhD student at the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research, and three colleagues – one German and two Indonesians – want to take action against ocean pollution. The scientists developed the Tasini, a reusable shopping bag made of recycled plastic in the form of small marine animals to replace the plastic bag in Indonesia. Their project will start in the run-up to World Oceans Day on 8 June.
Indonesia is the second largest source of plastic pollution to the world’s oceans. Around 10 million plastic bags are used here every day. At present, no...31.05.2017 | Read more
Traffic contributes more to nitrogen oxide emissions in Europe than previously thought. This is the result of a current study carried out by scientists from the University of Innsbruck. The research team headed by Thomas Karl shows that even newer air quality models underestimate traffic related nitrogen oxide pollution by up to a factor of 4. The results of the study are published in the Nature journal Scientific Reports.
In metropolitan areas throughout Europe maximum permissible values of nitrogen oxide are consistently breached. It has been a challenge to determine how much...31.05.2017 | Read more
Water is vital – therefore, waste water has to be cleaned as efficiently as possible. Ceramic membranes make this possible. Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS in Hermsdorf, Germany were able to significantly reduce the separation limits of these membranes and to reliably filter off dissolved organic molecules with a molar mass of only 200 Dalton. Even industrial sewage water can thus be cleaned efficiently.
Anyone who has dragged himself along a sunny coastal path at the height of summer with too little water in his bag knows all too well: without water, we cannot...30.05.2017 | Read more
The iDiv Ecotron, a central experimental platform of the DFG Research Centre iDiv, was officially launched during a ceremony last Wednesday. Researchers will use this unique facility to better understand the consequences of species loss. The iDiv Ecotron will enable investigations into the interactions within food webs among plants, animals, microbes and the soil under controlled conditions in 24 experimental chambers. Over 3.7 million euros have been invested into this modern platform, which is operated jointly by the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ).
It is anticipated to bridge the gap between simple laboratory experiments and complex ecosystem approaches. The iDiv Ecotron enriches the field research...18.05.2017 | Read more
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
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