Ecology is a subdiscipline of biology that examines the interrelationships of organisms and their 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 :
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.
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:
From a global point of view,environmental protection is always related to one of these subdisciplines.
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.
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.
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 | Read more
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 | Read more
More than one hundred experts all around the world demand for conservation actions
Parrots are among the most endangered species. Already since the 1990s it is a fact that one third of the parrot species from Central and South America is...15.09.2017 | Read more
Marine biologist from Warnemünde presents indicator for the state of foodwebs in the Baltic Sea on the basis of long-term data series on the composition of spring blooms
The European Union declared it their target to re-establish a „good ecological status“ in European seas by 2020. Quite a challenging task! But what actually is...21.08.2017 | Read more
Sewage sludge contains lots of valuable elements which are prized as fertiliser for use in agriculture. Phosphorus in particular is an important nutrient for plants. Researchers at Landshut University of Applied Sciences are therefore looking at ways in which wastewater treatment facilities can use sewage sludge effectively, particularly in rural areas. They are doing this in conjunction with partners based in the Czech Republic.
The sludge that settles in sedimentation tanks is full of valuable substances like phosphorus, nitrogen or potassium. For this reason, it is often used in...16.08.2017 | Read more
Assessing the state of an ecosystem solely on the basis of short-term changes in the number of different species it contains can lead to false conclusions. This is according to a new analysis by an international team including researchers of the Helmholtz Institute for Functional Marine Biodiversity (HIFMB) at the University of Oldenburg and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv). In order to assess ecosystems in a way that is meaningful for nature conservation, experts should instead analyse the turnover of species within a system. The research, based on a mathematical model and environmental data analysis, is published online in the "Journal of Applied Ecology".
A growing number of species are under threat of extinction – in particular due to global environmental changes. Political instruments such as the International...01.08.2017 | Read more
How can we ensure forest protection and sustainable forest biomass production at the same time? A first-ever global map of certified forest areas, based on a participatory and collaborative mapping approach, contributes to the answer.
Using forest biomass products—such as timber, fuel wood, or paper—in a sustainable manner, without exhausting resources or diminishing forest biodiversity,...27.06.2017 | Read more
Using the acacia as an example, researchers show that the location has an effect on interaction with other species
Acacia longifolia, which is native to Australia, is a species which was cultivated in Portugal primarily to stabilize dunes and as an ornamental plant; now it...26.06.2017 | Read more
As with humans, most animals prefer to associate with some individuals and not with others. The social structure can influence how a population responds to changes in its environment. Examining social networks is a promising technique for understanding, predicting and – if for the better – manipulating this structure. However, whereas the contribution of behavioural biology to conservation is already well recognized, the usefulness of animal social network analysis as a conservation tool has not yet been addressed.
A group of behavioural ecologists led by Lysanne Snijders from the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) outlines how the...23.06.2017 | Read more
With their Tasini project, Roger Spranz, a PhD student at the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research, and three colleagues – one German and two Indonesians – want to take action against ocean pollution. The scientists developed the Tasini, a reusable shopping bag made of recycled plastic in the form of small marine animals to replace the plastic bag in Indonesia. Their project will start in the run-up to World Oceans Day on 8 June.
Indonesia is the second largest source of plastic pollution to the world’s oceans. Around 10 million plastic bags are used here every day. At present, no...31.05.2017 | Read more
University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.
Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.
Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.
Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...
Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.
The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...
Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.
Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...
In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...
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