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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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Minimized water consumption in CSP plants - EU project MinWaterCSP is making good progress

In Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plants, collectors are bundling the sunlight on an absorber in order to generate electricity. In the Horizon 2020 project MinWaterCSP, the consortium aims to reduce the annual water consumption of a CSP plant through a number of complementary measures while maintaining or even improving thermal efficiency and reducing capital costs. Eighteen months into the project, the MinWaterCSP project partners have already achieved excellent results.

In Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plants, collectors are bundling the sunlight on an absorber in order to generate electricity. CSP plants are often installed...

05.12.2017 | nachricht Read more

Jena Experiment: Loss of species destroys ecosystems

How serious is the loss of species globally? Are material cycles in an ecosystem with few species changed? In order to find this out, the "Jena Experiment" was established in 2002, one of the largest biodiversity experiments worldwide. Professor Wolfgang Weisser from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) reports on two unexpected findings of the long-term study: Biodiversity influences almost half the processes in the ecosystem, and intensive grassland management does not result in higher yields than high biodiversity.

An ecosystem provides humans with natural "services", such as the fertility of the soil, the quality of the groundwater, the production of food, and...

28.11.2017 | nachricht Read more

Species may appear deceptively resilient to climate change

Ecological air conditioning offers short-term protection from a warming climate

Nature itself can be the best defense against climate change for many species -- at least in the short term­ -- according to a study published in the journal Ecology Letters...

24.11.2017 | nachricht Read more

Scientists team up on study to save endangered African penguins

Findings provide key strategies for rehabilitation

With less than 25,000 breeding pairs in existence today, it is an uphill battle for the African Penguin, which calls South Africa home. The 60 percent drop in...

16.11.2017 | nachricht Read more

Climate change: Urban trees are growing faster worldwide

Trees in metropolitan areas have been growing faster than trees in rural areas worldwide since the 1960s. This has been confirmed for the first time by a study on the impact of the urban heat island effect on tree growth headed by the Technical University of Munich (TUM). The analysis conducted by the international research team also shows that the growth of urban trees has already been exposed to changing climatic conditions for a long period of time, which is only just beginning to happen for trees in rural areas.

„While the effects of climate change on tree growth in forests have been extensively studied, there is little information available so far for urban trees“,...

13.11.2017 | nachricht Read more

Green rooves to reduce the effects of climate change

Experts from the University of Seville highlight that these systems mean an energy saving for building owners, contribute to reducing pollution and cushioning temperatures

Researchers from the Higher Technical School of Agricultural Engineering of the University of Seville have published a study in which they indicate that it...

13.11.2017 | nachricht Read more

Cities can cut greenhouse gas emissions far beyond their urban borders

Greenhouse gas emissions caused by urban households’ purchases of goods and services from beyond city limits are much bigger than previously thought. These upstream emissions may occur anywhere in the world and are roughly equal in size to the total emissions originating from a city’s own territory, a new study shows. This is not bad news but in fact offers local policy-makers more leverage to tackle climate change, the authors argue in view of the UN climate summit COP23 that just started.

They calculated the first internationally comparable greenhouse gas footprints for four cities from developed and developing countries: Berlin, New York,...

07.11.2017 | nachricht Read more

Reducing manure and fertilizers decreases atmospheric fine particles

A decrease of agricultural ammonia emissions avoids mortality attributable to air pollution

Fine particulates have numerous sources – not only traffic, which is currently under particular scrutiny. Reducing agricultural emissions could also...

30.10.2017 | nachricht Read more

Flagship species could help protect freshwaters

Researchers at the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) are investigating which animal species could become the focus of conservation measures as “imposing” flagship species in order to halt the decline of species and habitats in freshwaters. The current study emphasises how legitimate this flagship approach is: 83 per cent of all the world’s threatened freshwater species occur in the same areas as the “imposing” freshwater species examined within the study. However, almost 60 per cent of these potential flagship species are themselves already on the Red List of Threatened Species.

About one third of all animal species around the world are threatened. But even so, it is mainly the imposing, large terrestrial and marine animals such as...

26.10.2017 | nachricht Read more

Preservation of floodplains is flood protection

The silting of rivers and streams leads to problems for fish, mussels, and other aquatic organisms because their habitats disappear. However, not only intensive agriculture and erosion are destroying these habitats. Now a study conducted by researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) refutes this wide-spread view. In order to save the species living in the river basin – and protect people from the threat of devastating floods – rivers need more space, diversity, and freedom.

The subject of the study was the Moosach, a tributary of the Isar and located right at the Weihenstephaner “doorstep” of the TUM. The Moosach largely flows...

27.09.2017 | nachricht Read more
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Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

Im Focus: Virtual Reality for Bacteria

An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications

Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...

Im Focus: A space-time sensor for light-matter interactions

Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.

The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a...

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