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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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Protecting Natural Spaces Does Not Prevent Invasion by Foreign Species

A study carried out by researchers at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelonashows that protecting natural spaces does not prevent invasion by foreign vegetation species. Montserrat Vilà and Jordi Pujadas, researchers at the CREAF, have published the study, the first to quantify the relationship between species invasions and human activity on a regional scale, in Biological Conservation. The introduction of foreign species is a global phenomenon which has negative effects on the conservation o 28.02.2002 | nachricht Read more

European corals hit hard by fishing

Coral reefs older than the Pyramids are being smashed to bits by fishing boats trawling deep water off the UK coast European countries are constantly pleading with developing nations to protect coral reefs in tropical countries. But it turns out that their own fishing boats are trashing equally important reefs in their own waters. Jason Hall-Spencer of the University of Glasgow has found pieces of coral at least 4,500 years old in the nets of trawlers operating off Ireland and Sco 26.02.2002 | nachricht Read more

Predicting the species diversity of large herbivores in nature reserves

The number of species of large herbivores that can live in a nature reserve can be easily calculated using just rainfall and soil fertility data. The Wageningen ecologist Dr Han Olff can use this to indicate on a worldwide basis where nature reserves that protect large mammals are needed. On a map of the world, the researcher from Wageningen University has marked the areas in which the greatest diversity of large game can live. For species-rich nature reserves in East Africa and on the Argen 20.02.2002 | nachricht Read more

Refined Petrol Stations

There are always oil spots near the petrol stations. Rainwater washes them away, polluting the environment. Researchers from Perm have developed a refining unit for cleaning rainwater sewage from petrol stations. It was successfully tested in Moscow and Perm. The unit base is a new filter - "Kombi" - made of fibrous carbon sorbent, which is produced by coagulation of chemical cellulose fibres in a special way. The filtering process consists of three stages - settling, refinement through the 20.02.2002 | nachricht Read more

Conservationists Identify Marine Biodiversity "Hotspots"

Conservation-oriented parks and reserves are fairly common on land, but comparatively few marine regions receive protection from human activities. This situation has, for the most part, elicited little concern, owing to the widely held belief that the large geographic ranges of most marine species would ensure their survival. But new research on restricted-range marine life—that is, species limited to small areas—challenges that idea, identifying 10 regions where further damage to coral reefs could l 18.02.2002 | nachricht Read more

Sperm and eggs fall foul of fallout

Nuclear tests up gene mutation risk. People in the remote former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan who were exposed to fallout from nuclear-weapon tests have more genetic mutations in their eggs and sperm than normal, researchers have found 1 . Their children could inherit health defects caused by such mutations. The Soviet Union detonated 470 nuclear weapons at the Semipalatinsk nuclear-testing site between 1949 and 1989, many above ground. The blasts showered r 08.02.2002 | nachricht Read more

Water pollutants purged

Smart process cleans up contaminated water. A smart material identifies and destroys toxic pollutants in water. When exposed to the offending molecules, tiny light-emitting zinc oxide particles glow dimly, burn them up, and glow brightly to show they’ve finished 1 . The advantage of such an approach, say Prashant Kamat and co-workers at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, is that the energy-consuming burn-up stage switches on only when pollutants are pre 04.02.2002 | nachricht Read more

Scientists use llama droppings to help combat water pollution

Scientists from Newcastle University are using llama droppings to help combat environmental problems caused by polluted water seeping from abandoned silver and tin mines in the Bolivian Andes. The project is being spearheaded by Paul Younger, Professor of Hydrogeochemical Engineering at Newcastle University. It has been adapted from a community-based natural regeneration technique which uses waste materials to treat polluted mine waters. Professor Younger pioneered the technique, along with 31.01.2002 | nachricht Read more

Atmosphere and Oceans Finely Balanced

The atmosphere and oceans exist in a delicate state of balance according to research co-ordinated by the University of East Anglia (UEA) and published this month by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). The recently completed five year research programme of Atmospheric Chemistry Studies in the Oceanic Environment (ACSOE) concludes that atmospheric pollution travels much further than previously thought and that this has important consequences for global chemistry and climate. 24.01.2002 | nachricht Read more

Clean forests prompt pollution rethink

South American streams call current nitrogen-cycle theory into question. Pollution may have altered northern hemisphere forests dramatically. The surprise finding that clean forests use nitrogen differently to polluted ones emphasizes the effect that humans have on the planet’s nitrogen cycle 1 . It may even prompt a rethink of the way that this cycle works. Humans have added vast amounts of nitrogen to the earth’s ecosystems. The element fertilizes plants. T 24.01.2002 | nachricht Read more
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Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

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