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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 alters cast of winter birds

Over the past two decades, the resident communities of birds that attend eastern North America's backyard bird feeders in winter have quietly been remade, most likely as a result of a warming climate.

Writing this week in the journal Global Change Biology, University of Wisconsin-Madison wildlife biologists Benjamin Zuckerberg and Karine Princé document that...

20.10.2014 | nachricht Read more

First Detailed Map of Aboveground Forest Carbon Stocks in Mexico Unveiled

The Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC) and Allianza MREDD+ released the first detailed map of aboveground forest carbon stocks of Mexico available for download today.   This carbon stock inventory is very valuable for Mexico, as one of the first tropical nations to voluntarily pledge to mitigation actions within the context of the United Nation’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) program. 

The hectare-scale map is the result of a collaboration led by WHRC scientists Josef Kellndorfer and Oliver Cartus with Mexico’s National Forestry Commission...

17.10.2014 | nachricht Read more

A Global Natural Gas Boom Alone Won't Slow Climate Change

Comprehensive analysis shows that natural gas could displace both coal and low-emitting energy sources over the long term

A new analysis of global energy use, economics and the climate shows that without new climate policies, expanding the current bounty of inexpensive natural gas...

16.10.2014 | nachricht Read more

Could sleeper sharks be preying on protected Steller sea lions?

Pacific sleeper sharks, a large, slow-moving species thought of as primarily a scavenger or predator of fish, may be preying on something a bit larger – protected Steller sea lions in the Gulf of Alaska.

A new study found the first indirect evidence that this cold-blooded shark that can grow to a length of more than 20 feet – longer than a great white shark –...

16.10.2014 | nachricht Read more

New study shows the importance of jellyfish falls to deep-sea ecosystem

This week, researchers from University of Hawai'i, Norway, and the UK have shown with innovative experiments that a rise in jellyfish blooms near the ocean's surface may lead to jellyfish falls that are rapidly consumed by voracious deep-sea scavengers.

This week, researchers from University of Hawai'i, Norway, and the UK have shown with innovative experiments that a rise in jellyfish blooms near the ocean's...

16.10.2014 | nachricht Read more

Natural gas boom will not slow climate change

The recent natural gas boom due to the use of technologies such as fracking will not lead to a reduction of overall greenhouse gas emissions.

Burning natural gas produces only half the CO2 emissions as coal per unit of energy. However, as natural gas becomes abundant and therefore cheap, it adds to...

16.10.2014 | nachricht Read more

Study Finds Crocodiles are Sophisticated Hunters

New University of Tennessee, Knoxville, research published in the journal Ethology Ecology and Evolution shows just how sophisticated their hunting techniques can be.

Recent studies have found that crocodiles and their relatives are highly intelligent animals capable of sophisticated behavior such as advanced parental care,...

15.10.2014 | nachricht Read more

No single explanation for biodiversity in Madagascar

Climate, geography have varying effects on Madagascar's lizards, snakes, frogs

No single "one-size-fits-all" model can explain how biodiversity hotspots come to be, finds a study of more than 700 species of reptiles and amphibians on the...

13.10.2014 | nachricht Read more

Mineralization of sand particles boosts microbial water filtration

Mineral coatings on sand particles actually encourage microbial activity in the rapid sand filters that are used to treat groundwater for drinking, according to a paper published ahead of print in Applied and Environmental Microbiology. These findings resoundingly refute, for the first time, the conventional wisdom that the mineral deposits interfere with microbial colonization of the sand particles.

"We find an overwhelmingly positive effect of mineral deposits on microbial activity and density," says corresponding author Barth F. Smets, of the Technical...

13.10.2014 | nachricht Read more

Britain on brink of freshwater species 'invasion' from south east Europe

Five of the most high-risk freshwater invaders from the Ponto-Caspian region around Turkey and Ukraine are now in Britain - including the quagga mussel, confirmed just two weeks ago on 1 October in the Wraysbury River near Heathrow airport.

Researchers say that, with at least ten more of these high-risk species established just across the channel in Dutch ports, Britain could be on the brink of...

13.10.2014 | nachricht Read more
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Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Imaging electric charge propagating along microbial nanowires

The claim by UMass Amherst researchers that the microbe Geobacter produces tiny electrical wires has been mired in controversy for a decade, but a new collaborative study provides stronger evidence than ever to support their claims.

The claim by microbiologist Derek Lovley and colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Amherst that the microbe Geobacter produces tiny electrical wires,...

Im Focus: Drive System Saves Space and Weight in Electric Cars

Siemens has developed a solution for integrating an electric car's motor and inverter in a single housing. Until now, the motor and the inverter, which converts the battery's direct current into alternating current for the motor, were two separate components.

The new integrated drive unit saves space, reduces weight, and cuts costs. The solution's key feature is the use of a common cooling system for both...

Im Focus: NASA Begins Sixth Year of Airborne Antarctic Ice Change Study

NASA is carrying out its sixth consecutive year of Operation IceBridge research flights over Antarctica to study changes in the continent’s ice sheet, glaciers and sea ice. This year’s airborne campaign, which began its first flight Thursday morning, will revisit a section of the Antarctic ice sheet that recently was found to be in irreversible decline.

For the next several weeks, researchers will fly aboard NASA’s DC-8 research aircraft out of Punta Arenas, Chile. This year also marks the return to western...

Im Focus: Milky Way Ransacks Nearby Dwarf Galaxies, Stripping All Traces of Star-Forming Gas

Astronomers using the National Science Foundation’s Green Bank Telescope (GBT) in West Virginia, along with data from other large radio telescopes, have discovered that our nearest galactic neighbors, the dwarf spheroidal galaxies, are devoid of star-forming gas, and that our Milky Way Galaxy is to blame.

These new radio observations, which are the highest sensitivity of their kind ever undertaken, reveal that within a well-defined boundary around our Galaxy,...

Im Focus: Researchers in Berlin and Bath Identify “Naïve-Like” Human Stem Cells

In their search for the earliest possible stage of development of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) that still have the potential to develop into any types of body cells and tissue, researchers from the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch, Germany, and the University of Bath, United Kingdom, have apparently been successful. Jichang Wang, Gangcai Xie, and Dr. Zsuzsanna Izsvák (MDC), together with Professor Laurence D. Hurst (University of Bath), report the discovery of a subtype of cells in culture dishes with hESCs and human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) that resemble this very early, pluripotent or naïve state (Nature, doi:10.1038/nature13804)*.

They also discovered the mechanism that turns human ES cells into naïve-like human stem cells. While this has potential implications for medicine and for...

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