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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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Don't forget plankton in climate change models, says study

A new study from the University of Exeter, published in the journal Ecology Letters, found that phytoplankton -- microscopic water-borne plants -- can rapidly evolve tolerance to elevated water temperatures

A new study from the University of Exeter, published in the journal Ecology Letters, found that phytoplankton - microscopic water-borne plants - can rapidly...

27.11.2015 | nachricht Read more

Using sphere packing models to explain the structure of forests

Explaining the complex structure of tropical forests is one of the great challenges in ecology. An issue of special interest is the distribution of different sizes of trees, something which is of particular relevance for biomass estimates. Modellers from the UFZ, working together with research partners, has now developed a new method which can be used to explain the tree size distribution in natural forests. To do so, the scientists use principles from stochastic geometry, as they have reported in a contribution to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS, Early Edition).

For over one hundred years, the distribution of different sizes of trees in forests has been one of the core attributes recorded by foresters and ecologists...

26.11.2015 | nachricht Read more

Taking a molecular approach to conserving freshwater biodiversity

Molecular ecologists have a key role to play in setting priorities for the conservation of aquatic biodiversity, according to a recent review paper published in the Pertanika Journal of Tropical Agricultural Sciences.

By applying DNA sequencing and related tools, molecular ecologists can collaborate with other ecologists, especially in the fields of species distribution...

09.11.2015 | nachricht Read more

Faster digestion in kangaroos reduces methane emissions

Why does a kangaroo expel less methane than a cow? Researchers from the University of Zurich and Australia decide to investigate – and discovered that the emission of this climate-damaging gas in kangaroos is linked to how long food is digested.

Animals produce methane during the digestion process – some more than others. Currently, around 20 percent of the world’s methane emissions stem from...

05.11.2015 | nachricht Read more

The Sun is brightening- but not in China

Haze due to weak winds and air pollution is reducing surface solar radiation in China, which has major consequences for the climate, the environment and the economy. These are the findings of a research report now being published in Scientific Reports. An international team of researchers including those from the University of Gothenburg is behind the study.

In the world as a whole, surface solar radiation has increased since 1990, although in China, it has decreased.

29.10.2015 | nachricht Read more

New concept to help set priorities in water management

The basic principle behind most strategies aimed at renaturalising ecosystems is to increase biodiversity by restoring natural habitat structure, which should lead to improved ecosystem services in the process. These projects often do not result in the success researchers had hoped for because the complexity of ecological relationships is so vast that it is difficult to detect the precise ecological factors that have priority over the many others in a particular case. Researchers working at the University of Montana and the UFZ have now developed a theoretical framework – the concept of ecological simplification – aimed at closing this gap. They tested it in two iconic river landscapes.

It sounds rather simple: in order to restore the original high level of biodiversity in our rivers, they should be renaturalised, i.e. returned to their...

15.10.2015 | nachricht Read more

Sea turtles face plastic pollution peril

Study warns that all seven species of marine turtle can ingest or become entangled in discarded plastic debris

A new global review led by the University of Exeter that set out to investigate the hazards of marine plastic pollution has warned that all seven species of...

09.10.2015 | nachricht Read more

NOAA declares third ever global coral bleaching event

Bleaching intensifies in Hawaii, high ocean temperatures threaten Caribbean corals

As record ocean temperatures cause widespread coral bleaching across Hawaii, NOAA scientists confirm the same stressful conditions are expanding to the...

08.10.2015 | nachricht Read more

Blacklists Protect the Rainforest

Brazil’s public authorities regularly publish “blacklists” of municipalities with high illegal deforestation rates. This environmental policy tool is working: scientists at the Center for Development Research (ZEF) and the Institute for Food and Resource Economics (ILR) at the University of Bonn have found that the public shaming strategy reduced Amazon forest loss in the blacklisted districts by 26% per year. Their findings have now been published in the journal “PLOS ONE”.

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has declined recently. While in 2004, trees were still being felled on more than 27,000 square kilometers of land, the...

24.09.2015 | nachricht Read more

Small Alga – Great Effect

In a new study, scientists from the ZMT have noted significant changes in the calcareous skeleton of the alga Halimeda as a result of a more acidic water environment. These may have an impact on the formation of tropical beaches and islands, as the calcareous structures of Halimeda are an important component of their sediments.

The acidification of the oceans is increasing inexorably. In particular, marine organisms with calcareous skeletons such as sea shells, corals or calcareous...

22.09.2015 | nachricht Read more
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Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Climate study finds evidence of global shift in the 1980s

Planet Earth experienced a global climate shift in the late 1980s on an unprecedented scale, fuelled by anthropogenic warming and a volcanic eruption, according to new research published this week.

Scientists say that a major step change, or ‘regime shift’, in the Earth’s biophysical systems, from the upper atmosphere to the depths of the ocean and from...

Im Focus: Innovative Photovoltaics – from the Lab to the Façade

Fraunhofer ISE Demonstrates New Cell and Module Technologies on its Outer Building Façade

The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE has installed 70 photovoltaic modules on the outer façade of one of its lab buildings. The modules were...

Im Focus: Lactate for Brain Energy

Nerve cells cover their high energy demand with glucose and lactate. Scientists of the University of Zurich now provide new support for this. They show for the first time in the intact mouse brain evidence for an exchange of lactate between different brain cells. With this study they were able to confirm a 20-year old hypothesis.

In comparison to other organs, the human brain has the highest energy requirements. The supply of energy for nerve cells and the particular role of lactic acid...

Im Focus: Laser process simulation available as app for first time

In laser material processing, the simulation of processes has made great strides over the past few years. Today, the software can predict relatively well what will happen on the workpiece. Unfortunately, it is also highly complex and requires a lot of computing time. Thanks to clever simplification, experts from Fraunhofer ILT are now able to offer the first-ever simulation software that calculates processes in real time and also runs on tablet computers and smartphones. The fast software enables users to do without expensive experiments and to find optimum process parameters even more effectively.

Before now, the reliable simulation of laser processes was a job for experts. Armed with sophisticated software packages and after many hours on computer...

Im Focus: Quantum Simulation: A Better Understanding of Magnetism

Heidelberg physicists use ultracold atoms to imitate the behaviour of electrons in a solid

Researchers at Heidelberg University have devised a new way to study the phenomenon of magnetism. Using ultracold atoms at near absolute zero, they prepared a...

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