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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.

Latest News:

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The oceans can’t take any 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 | nachricht Read more

Improved veterinary service for livestock is significant for leopard conservation

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 | nachricht Read more

Europeans have unknowingly contributed to the spread of invasive plant species in North America

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 | nachricht Read more

Darwin's finches have reached their limits on the Galápagos

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 | nachricht Read more

When Trees Aren’t ‘Green’

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 | nachricht Read more

Increased carbon dioxide levels in air restrict plants’ ability to absorb nutrients

The rapidly rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere affect plants’ absorption of nitrogen, which is the nutrient that restricts crop growth in most terrestrial ecosystems. Researchers at the University of Gothenburg have now revealed that the concentration of nitrogen in plants’ tissue is lower in air with high levels of carbon dioxide, regardless of whether or not the plants’ growth is stimulated. The study has been published in the journal Global Change Biology.

Researcher Johan Uddling has been working with Swedish and international colleagues to compile data on how raised levels of carbon dioxide impact on plant...

12.06.2015 | nachricht Read more

The dispersal of alien species redefines biogeography

It has been hypothesized that globalization of human-mediated dispersal of species may break down biogeographic boundaries. However, empirical tests had been lacking until recently.

It has been hypothesized that globalization of human-mediated dispersal of species may break down biogeographic boundaries. However, empirical tests had been...

12.06.2015 | nachricht Read more

Microbe-mediated adaptation to a novel diet

Scientists of the Max Planck Research Group Insect Symbiosis and the Experimental Ecology and Evolution Group at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, found that acquiring a group of bacterial symbionts that are localized in the gut enabled firebugs to successfully exploit a food source that was previously inaccessible to them and lead to the diversification within this new ecological niche.

Insects are the most diverse animal group on earth. Many of them feed on plants, and they are constantly challenged by the diverse direct and indirect defenses...

10.06.2015 | nachricht Read more

Scientists document dramatic decline in populations of yellow-breasted buntings / Poaching in China

Ending up on dinner plates: Together with researchers from England, Russia, Finland and Japan, scientists from the Institute of Landscape Ecology at Münster University have produced a comprehensive study documenting for the first time the global collapse of the yellow-breasted bunting population. They see the main reason as being the widespread illegal trapping of these sparrow-sized songbirds in China.

With its canary-yellow colouring, the yellow-breasted bunting – about the size of a sparrow – is one of the more striking species of songbirds. Until a few...

09.06.2015 | nachricht Read more

Analytical lamps monitor air pollution in cities

Emissions of cars, ships or airplanes and dirty air of stacks pollute the environment and are harmful to our health - permanently they can even be fatal.

Optical measurement methods are able to detect and quantify low concentrations of pollutants like sulphur oxid, nitrogen oxid, ozone or VOCs.

26.05.2015 | nachricht Read more
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Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Viaducts with wind turbines, the new renewable energy source

Wind turbines could be installed under some of the biggest bridges on the road network to produce electricity. So it is confirmed by calculations carried out by a European researchers team, that have taken a viaduct in the Canary Islands as a reference. This concept could be applied in heavily built-up territories or natural areas with new constructions limitations.

The Juncal Viaduct, in Gran Canaria, has served as a reference for Spanish and British researchers to verify that the wind blowing between the pillars on this...

Im Focus: X-rays and electrons join forces to map catalytic reactions in real-time

New technique combines electron microscopy and synchrotron X-rays to track chemical reactions under real operating conditions

A new technique pioneered at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory reveals atomic-scale changes during catalytic reactions in real...

Im Focus: Iron: A biological element?

Think of an object made of iron: An I-beam, a car frame, a nail. Now imagine that half of the iron in that object owes its existence to bacteria living two and a half billion years ago.

Think of an object made of iron: An I-beam, a car frame, a nail. Now imagine that half of the iron in that object owes its existence to bacteria living two and...

Im Focus: Thousands of Droplets for Diagnostics

Researchers develop new method enabling DNA molecules to be counted in just 30 minutes

A team of scientists including PhD student Friedrich Schuler from the Laboratory of MEMS Applications at the Department of Microsystems Engineering (IMTEK) of...

Im Focus: Bionic eye clinical trial results show long-term safety, efficacy vision-restoring implant

Patients using Argus II experienced significant improvement in visual function and quality of life

The three-year clinical trial results of the retinal implant popularly known as the "bionic eye," have proven the long-term efficacy, safety and reliability of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

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