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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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How does the loss of species alter ecosystems?

The iDiv Ecotron, a central experimental platform of the DFG Research Centre iDiv, was officially launched during a ceremony last Wednesday. Researchers will use this unique facility to better understand the consequences of species loss. The iDiv Ecotron will enable investigations into the interactions within food webs among plants, animals, microbes and the soil under controlled conditions in 24 experimental chambers. Over 3.7 million euros have been invested into this modern platform, which is operated jointly by the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ).

It is anticipated to bridge the gap between simple laboratory experiments and complex ecosystem approaches. The iDiv Ecotron enriches the field research...

18.05.2017 | nachricht Read more

Excess diesel emissions bring global health & environmental impacts

Excess NOx emissions from diesel engines have been linked to approximately 38,000 premature deaths worldwide in 2015—mostly in the European Union, China, and India.

Nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from diesel cars, trucks, and buses are a major contributor to air pollution-related deaths worldwide—and the impacts are...

16.05.2017 | nachricht Read more

Vital information used to inform about the conservation of one of Europe’s most endangered sharks

Saving angels: Vital information on Angelshark ecology used to inform the conservation of one of Europe’s most endangered sharks

The angel shark family (Squatinidae) is the second most threatened group of sharks and rays in the world. The Angelshark (Squatina squatina) was once...

15.05.2017 | nachricht Read more

Reducing black carbon to protect health and the climate

On 15 May IASS Director Mark Lawrence will present the latest research on black carbon and its effects on health, the climate, and development in a short talk at the preparatory meeting for the UN Climate Conference in Bonn.

Particulate matter puts human health in danger: Everybody who inhales it is at risk of developing cardiovascular and respiratory problems. Soot, which is...

12.05.2017 | nachricht Read more

UNH researchers find significant increase of invasive seaweed changing sea habitat

Walking along the beaches of New England, it is easy to spot large amounts of a fine red seaweed clogging the coastline, the result of sweeping changes in the marine environment occurring beneath the water. To further investigate, researchers at the University of New Hampshire looked at seaweed populations over the last 30 years in the Southwestern Gulf of Maine and found the once predominant and towering kelp seaweed beds are declining and more invasive, shrub-like species have taken their place, altering the look of the ocean floor and the base of the marine food chain.

In the study, recently published in the Journal of Ecology, researchers compared photos of sections of the sea floor, collected over 30 years, at several...

10.05.2017 | nachricht Read more

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
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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...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

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