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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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Upcycling 'fast fashion' to reduce waste and pollution

Pollution created by making and dyeing clothes has pitted the fashion industry and environmentalists against each other. Now, the advent of "fast fashion" -- trendy clothing affordable enough to be disposable -- has strained that relationship even more. But what if we could recycle clothes like we recycle paper, or even upcycle them? Scientists report today new progress toward that goal.

The team will present the work at the 253rd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS). ACS, the world's largest scientific society,...

03.04.2017 | nachricht Read more

Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected

The AWI Litterbase portal is the first to gather all published scientific data on marine litter

Where is marine litter concentrated, and which species and ecosystems does it affect? Researchers at the Alfred Wegener Institute have for the first time...

27.03.2017 | nachricht Read more

International network connects experimental research in European waters

Lakes, rivers, estuaries and oceans are closely connected. Despite this, aquatic research is still divided in marine and freshwater sciences. Now, scientists from 19 leading research institutes and universities and two enterprises from 12 countries across Europe aim to change this and have joined forces in the project “AQUACOSM - Network of Leading European AQUAtic MesoCOSM Facilities Connecting Mountains to Oceans from the Arctic to the Mediterranean”. The network will perform the first systematic large-scale experiments in both freshwater and marine ecosystems. The project is coordinated and lead by Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB).

"For more than 100 years, inland water and marine research have largely developed in parallel to each other. Now it's time to reunite both", says IGB...

21.03.2017 | nachricht Read more

World Water Day 2017: It doesn’t Always Have to Be Drinking Water – Using Wastewater as a Resource

The distribution conflicts with regard to water resources are no longer limited to arid areas of our planet. Even in Germany where water is comparatively abundant, conflicts of use occasionally arise. The worldwide water demand is continously increasing. It has already come to a point where two thirds of the available potable water is used for agricultural purposes alone. Because of the increasing pressure on water resources, the United Nations are taking up the world water day to draw attention to the potentials of wastewater. Scientists of ISOE – Institute for Social-Ecological Research are investigating the numerous possibilites of reuse.

The sustainable handling of water is one of the core challenges of our times and is anchored in the United Nations’ Agenda 2013 as one of the sustainability...

17.03.2017 | nachricht Read more

Endangered giants: large freshwater species most threatened with extinction on the planet

Freshwater megafauna such as river dolphins, crocodilians and sturgeons play vital roles in their respective ecosystems. In a recent scientific publication, researchers of the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) in Berlin have teamed up with international colleagues to illustrate the factors that currently threaten these large vertebrates. The authors also call for a more comprehensive assessment on these large freshwater animals and for a more targeted conservation plan. Also, a wider range of freshwater species and freshwater ecosystems suffering from biodiversity decrease have the potential to benefit from such megafauna-based actions.

Freshwater megafauna such as river dolphins, crocodilians and sturgeons play vital roles in their respective ecosystems. In a recent scientific publication,...

13.03.2017 | nachricht Read more

“Traveling” droughts bring new possibilities for prediction

Droughts can travel hundreds to thousands of kilometers from where they started, like a slow-moving hurricane. A new study sheds light on how these droughts evolve in space and time, bringing vital new insight for water managers.

Droughts can travel hundreds to thousands of kilometers from where they started, like a slow-moving hurricane. A new study sheds light on how these droughts...

07.03.2017 | nachricht Read more

Calculating recharge of groundwater more precisely

Researchers demonstrate that current models underestimate role of subsurface heterogeneity

Researchers demonstrate that current models underestimate role of subsurface heterogeneity

28.02.2017 | nachricht Read more

Bioinvasion on the rise

Study with participation from Konstanz shows: the rates of alien species introduction worldwide are higher than ever

The number of alien species is continuously increasing, and does not show any sign of saturation at a global level. This fact was described by an international...

15.02.2017 | nachricht Read more

Litter Levels in the Depths of the Arctic are On the Rise

Sea ice could be responsible for transporting plastic litter

The Arctic has a serious litter problem: in just ten years, the concentration of marine litter at a deep-sea station in the Arctic Ocean has risen 20-fold....

10.02.2017 | nachricht Read more

Carnivores more seriously threatened by roads than previously acknowledged

The effects of roads on carnivores have obviously been underestimated in worldwide species conservation. This is the conclusion of the first comprehensive global study on this topic, which has been published in the scientific journal “Global Ecology and Biogeography” by an international research team from Germany and Portugal. The protection status of several species that are severely affected by roads cut through their habitat should be reconsidered, the researchers say.

The first global overview of the effects of roads on carnivores offers new insights for the protection of well-known species such as the puma (Puma concolor),...

08.02.2017 | nachricht Read more
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Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

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