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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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Reduced off-odor of plastic recyclates via separate collection of packaging waste

Plastic recyclates produced from waste packaging have to meet high sensory requirements in order to be used for new products. Plastic recyclates often have off-odors, some of which have not hitherto been identified. The Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV has analyzed the sensory properties of post-consumer shopping bags made of low density polyethylene (LDPE) and originating from different collection systems. More than 60 odorous substances were identified using combined chemo-analytical methods. The information gained provides a targeted strategy for avoiding off-odors.

The results of this collaborative study with the Chair of Aroma and Smell Research at the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) and the...

31.03.2020 | nachricht Read more

Study suggests LEGO bricks could survive in ocean for up to 1,300 years

A LEGO brick could survive in the ocean for as many as 1,300 years, according to new research.

A study led by the University of Plymouth examined the extent to which items of the ever-popular children's toy were worn down in the marine environment.

17.03.2020 | nachricht Read more

Wearing clothes could release more microfibers to the environment than washing them

Wearing clothes can release even greater quantities of microfibres to the environment than washing them, new research shows.

In a first-of-its-kind study, scientists from the Institute for Polymers, Composites and Biomaterials of the National Research Council of Italy (IPCB-CNR) and...

12.03.2020 | nachricht Read more

Microplastics affect the survival of amphibians and invertebrates in river ecosystems

A study by the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country has demonstrated that 15 days' exposure to microplastics affects some freshwater systems

Concern about contamination caused by microplastics is growing; owing to their abundance, ubiquity and persistence over time, microplastics pose a potential...

11.03.2020 | nachricht Read more

Heat islands in cities: Every tree counts

A particularly warm winter is coming to an end – in summer the next heat wave is looming. Is it possible to create cool zones in cities to tackle the more pronounced heat island effects due to climate change? Empa researchers have developed a simulation program that can make detailed predictions about which pavement and which type of vegetation could help. Using the Münsterplatz in Zurich as an example, they have run through such a model calculation.

The warmest winter since weather records began is just coming to an end. The average temperature was 3.4 degrees Celsius above the average for the years 1981...

05.03.2020 | nachricht Read more

Researchers are using a new method to determine how resistant rivers are to drought

Heat, dry conditions, and the resulting low flows in rivers and lakes characterized the summer months of 2003, 2015 and 2018 in Europe. Another low flow period is on the cards for the summer of 2020. Researchers from the University of Freiburg, working with the Universities of Trier and Oslo, Norway, have presented a new method which can help scientists tell more precisely how vulnerable rivers are to drought conditions. Their findings are published in the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences.

“We are seeing that different rivers react very differently to a lack of precipitation,” says the author of the study, Dr. Michael Stölzle from Environmental...

04.03.2020 | nachricht Read more

CO2 tracking in space

CO2 concentrations in the air continue to rise rapidly, and a rapid reduction in man-made emissions is becoming increasingly important. In order to assess the effectiveness of political measures, timely and reliable emission levels are needed. However, current methods are costly. The European Space Agency ESA is therefore working on the development of new satellites which will be able to determine CO2 emissions in the future - with the help of Empa.

Cities are veritable CO2 spinners, but how much emission is actually emitted can hardly be reliably determined at present. Current estimates are based on...

25.02.2020 | nachricht Read more

Project provides information on energy recovery from agricultural residues in Germany and China

Within the framework of a sino-german working group, the research project "ChinaRes" bundles the knowledge about the energetic utilisation of agricultural residues in China and Germany. The project, which runs until January 2021, is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture and coordinated by the DBFZ (German Biomass Research Centre). Comprehensive information on the project can be found on the project website www.dbfz.de/en/projects/china-res 

The "ChinaRes" project aims to pool knowledge on the energy recovery of agricultural residues. Against this background, the project objectives are

13.02.2020 | nachricht Read more

New exhaust gas measurement registers ultrafine pollutant particles for the first time

Together with international partners, researchers at Graz University of Technology have developed a measurement method that measures particles below 10 nanometres for the first time and will contribute to the implementation of future, stricter emission standards

A few days ago, the European Commission presented its Green Deal, which aims to make the EU climate neutral by 2050 in order to protect the environment and...

21.01.2020 | nachricht Read more

ZMT-Expert supports the implementation of the ambitious marine reserve in Palau

On 1 January 2020, the island state of Palau implemented one of the world's largest and most ambitious marine protected areas in its territorial waters. The international advisory team of experts also included an ecologist from the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT).

On 1 January 2020, the island state of Palau implemented an unparalleled marine sanctuary in its territorial waters: the Palau National Marine Sanctuary. It is...

17.01.2020 | nachricht Read more
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Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The human body as an electrical conductor, a new method of wireless power transfer

Published by Marc Tudela, Laura Becerra-Fajardo, Aracelys García-Moreno, Jesus Minguillon and Antoni Ivorra, in Access, the journal of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers

The project Electronic AXONs: wireless microstimulators based on electronic rectification of epidermically applied currents (eAXON, 2017-2022), funded by a...

Im Focus: Belle II yields the first results: In search of the Z′ boson

The Belle II experiment has been collecting data from physical measurements for about one year. After several years of rebuilding work, both the SuperKEKB electron–positron accelerator and the Belle II detector have been improved compared with their predecessors in order to achieve a 40-fold higher data rate.

Scientists at 12 institutes in Germany are involved in constructing and operating the detector, developing evaluation algorithms, and analyzing the data.

Im Focus: When ions rattle their cage

Electrolytes play a key role in many areas: They are crucial for the storage of energy in our body as well as in batteries. In order to release energy, ions - charged atoms - must move in a liquid such as water. Until now the precise mechanism by which they move through the atoms and molecules of the electrolyte has, however, remained largely unknown. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research have now shown that the electrical resistance of an electrolyte, which is determined by the motion of ions, can be traced back to microscopic vibrations of these dissolved ions.

In chemistry, common table salt is also known as sodium chloride. If this salt is dissolved in water, sodium and chloride atoms dissolve as positively or...

Im Focus: Harnessing the rain for hydrovoltaics

Drops of water falling on or sliding over surfaces may leave behind traces of electrical charge, causing the drops to charge themselves. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz have now begun a detailed investigation into this phenomenon that accompanies us in every-day life. They developed a method to quantify the charge generation and additionally created a theoretical model to aid understanding. According to the scientists, the observed effect could be a source of generated power and an important building block for understanding frictional electricity.

Water drops sliding over non-conducting surfaces can be found everywhere in our lives: From the dripping of a coffee machine, to a rinse in the shower, to an...

Im Focus: A sensational discovery: Traces of rainforests in West Antarctica

90 million-year-old forest soil provides unexpected evidence for exceptionally warm climate near the South Pole in the Cretaceous

An international team of researchers led by geoscientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) have now...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

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