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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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'Watchdog' for greenhouse gas emissions

Pilot project CarboCount

The signatory countries of the Kyoto Protocol and the new Paris Agreement have committed to reduce global warming. The countries themselves use estimates and...

23.03.2016 | nachricht Read more

CU study: Fires, drought in changing climate affecting high-altitude forests

Large, severe fires in the West followed by increasing drought conditions as the planet warms are leading to lower tree densities and increased patchiness in high-elevation forests, according to a new study involving the University of Colorado Boulder.

For the study the team looked at nearly 200 subalpine forest plots that had undergone severe fires between 1994 and 2003 in and around Yellowstone National...

22.03.2016 | nachricht Read more

Monitoring greenhouse gas emissions independently

Mistakes can happen when estimating emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane. Researchers funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation have developed a method to independently validate national statistics.

The signatory countries of the Kyoto Protocol and the new Paris Agreement have committed to reduce global warming. The countries themselves use estimates and...

22.03.2016 | nachricht Read more

Study says marine protected areas can benefit large sharks

UM Rosenstiel School researchers evaluated movements of highly mobile sharks in relation to protected areas

Researchers at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science published new findings that suggest the expansion of protected...

16.03.2016 | nachricht Read more

Invasive Water Frogs too Dominant for Native Species

In the past two decades, water frogs have spread rapidly in Central Europe. Using a new statistical model, researchers from the University of Basel were now able to show that local species such as the Yellow-bellied Toad and the Common Midwife Toad are suffering from the more dominant water frogs. The journal American Naturalist has published their results.

The composition of species communities can change considerably over time, often due to human influences. Even though these changes have led to the decline of...

29.02.2016 | nachricht Read more

Marine vessel tracking system also a lifesaver for wildlife

A new paper from WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society), in partnership with researchers and practitioners from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Coast Guard, Space Quest, Google, and SkyTruth, reviews the use of a maritime vessel communication and navigational safety system that is not only effective in protecting people, but wildlife such as whales, walruses, and other wildlife species as well. With improvements, say the authors, the system will ultimately result in greater engagement by vessel companies and operators in the conservation of marine resources.

The Automatic Identification System -- adopted by the International Maritime Organization in 2000 for use in collision avoidance, coastal surveillance, and...

12.02.2016 | nachricht Read more

Stability in ecosystems: Asynchrony of species is more important than diversity

Whether an animal or plant community remains stable despite external impacts does not depend on biological diversity alone: asynchrony across the species is also a crucial factor. The more asynchronous the species in an ecosystem fluctuate in their abundances, the less likely it becomes unstable. As a result, diversity takes second place in terms of the factors to be considered in the context of ecosystem stability. A team of scientists spearheaded by the TU Munich and TU Darmstadt have published these findings in the journal “Nature Communications”.

The long-term functioning of ecosystems depends on the stability of their species communities, as these ensure the functioning of the entire system. However,...

12.02.2016 | nachricht Read more

Hunting pressure on forest animals in Africa is on the increase

Many populations of African animal species have dramatically decreased or already disappeared altogether. A team of European researchers led by Goethe University Frankfurt has now predicted hunting pressure for the Congo Basin and produced a detailed map, which could help in regional planning.

Since about 25 years, animal species in West and Central Africa are no longer being hunted solely for the purpose of local self-sufficiency, but increasingly...

09.02.2016 | nachricht Read more

Man-made underwater sound may have wider ecosystem effects than previously thought

Underwater sound linked to human activity could alter the behaviour of seabed creatures that play a vital role in marine ecosystems, according to new research from the University of Southampton.

The study, reported in the journal Scientific Reports published by Nature, found that exposure to sounds that resemble shipping traffic and offshore...

05.02.2016 | nachricht Read more

Sluggish electrons caught in action

By creating and using the first optical attosecond pulse, scientists from the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics measured the time it takes electrons inside atoms to respond to the electromagnetic forces of light.

In the race to establish ever-faster electronics, light could play an important role. For instance, using light pulses of a precisely controlled waveform,...

04.02.2016 | 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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