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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.

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Successful calculation of human and natural influence on cloud formation

Publication in Science: CLOUD data are fed into a global aerosol model to calculate climate effect.

When new particles develop in the atmosphere, this influences cloud formation and with that the climate too. Since a few years, these complex processes have...

04.11.2016 | nachricht Read more

Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year

Ecologists have estimated that invasive (non-native) insects cost humanity tens of billions of dollars a year – and are likely to increase under climate change and growing international trade.

Researchers from the University of Adelaide in Australia and CNRS and Paris-Sud University in France have compiled the first comprehensive and robust database...

04.10.2016 | nachricht Read more

Malaysia's unique freshwater mussels in danger

Researchers in Malaysia revealed that Peninsular Malaysia hosts at least three rare mussel species, one of which (Hyriopsis bialata) is not found anywhere else on the planet. Another species (Ensidens ingallsianus) may have already gone extinct.

In a ground-breaking study path-breaking for the Southeast Asian region, a research group led by The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (UNMC) revealed...

27.09.2016 | nachricht Read more

How to detect water contamination in situ?

Scientists from Tomsk Polytechnic University have developed a device for the rapid analysis of liquids on the content of hazardous substances - such as heavy metals. Polytechnicers use a method based on polymer optodes - very small plastic matrices that can be made sensitive to specific substances by means of special reagents.

The matrices change color and its intensity depending on the concentration of the substance. The device is mobile, can carry out analysis in situ even at low...

22.09.2016 | nachricht Read more

Quantifying the chemical effects of air pollutants on oxidative stress and human health

New computer model provides exposure-response relationship between air pollutants and reactive oxygen species in the epithelial lining fluid of the human respiratory tract

Air pollution can cause oxidative stress and adverse health effects such as asthma and other respiratory diseases. The underlying chemical processes, however,...

12.09.2016 | nachricht Read more

Environmental DNA uncovers biodiversity in rivers

Researchers from UZH and Eawag have used “environmental DNA” to determine the biodiversity of a river. Previously, this involved collecting and identifying all the organisms living in it. Using environmental DNA, however, not only is it possible to characterize the river’s biodiversity, but also that of the surrounding landscape.

Most natural ecosystems are heavily affected by changes to the human habitat, climate change or invasive species. In order to protect these ecosystems, one...

30.08.2016 | nachricht Read more

New approach for environmental test on livestock drugs

Drugs for livestock can harm beneficial organisms that break down dung. Therefore newly developed medical substances need to be tested on single species in the lab. An international research group including evolutionary biologists from the University of Zurich have been scrutinizing the reliability of such laboratory tests, evaluating the implementation of a field test based on the anti-parasitic drug ivermectin at four climatically different locations. The scientists thus presented a novel approach for more advanced environmental compatibility tests.

Livestock medications can impair beneficial organisms that break down dung. Too high a dosage of ivermectin, a common drug against parasites, harms...

27.07.2016 | nachricht Read more

Managing an endangered river across the US-Mexico border

A new study from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) shows how improving communication and involvement could bring consensus solutions for the embattled Rio Grande/Bravo, which is shared between the USA and Mexico.

The Rio Grande (called Rio Bravo in Mexico) is the lifeline to an expansive desert in the southwest USA and northern Mexico. From Colorado to the Gulf of...

18.07.2016 | nachricht Read more

The European pet trade is jeopardising the survival of rare reptile species

Reptiles are exceedingly popular as pets, trade is booming. Between 2004 and 2014, official imports to the EU came to just under 21 million live specimens, more than six million of these ended up on the German market. These also include a large number of representatives of threatened species that can be sold at extremely high profits. An international team of experts led by Mark Auliya of the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) in Leipzig has now documented the implications of such transactions in the scientific journal Biological Conservation.

They are some of the rarest reptiles in the world. According to the latest surveys, there are not even 250 adult ploughshare tortoises left to crawl through...

13.07.2016 | nachricht Read more

Dangerous flight into the wind farm

Wind turbines attract bats. They seem to appear particularly appealing to female noctule bats in early summer. In a pilot study, researchers of the German Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin noticed this when they tracked the flight paths of noctule bats, Nyctalus noctula, using the latest GPS tracking devices . The bats managed to take even seasoned experts by surprise.

The motive behind the study is the conflict between the exploitation of wind energy and the conservation of the protected bats. The German so-called...

08.07.2016 | nachricht Read more
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Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

Im Focus: Bacteria harness the lotus effect to protect themselves

Biofilms: Researchers find the causes of water-repelling properties

Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...

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