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.
With 13 million inhabitants, Manila is one of the largest megacities in Southeast Asia. At the same time, the capital of the Philippines is one of the cities with the highest air pollution worldwide: soot pollution is about 50 times higher than found in Europe. The risk of developing lung cancer is about 1000 times higher. A strategy on how to get this massive environmental problem under control will be developed by a new research project over the next one and a half years. Environmental, social and health scientists from Germany and the Philippines will work together with NGOs, politicians and affected citizens to find solutions.
By improving the living conditions for the people of Manila, the project also aims to contribute to the United Nations' Agenda 2030 for Sustainable...22.08.2019 | Read more
A comprehensive High Seas Treaty and extensive marine protected areas are urgently needed in the next decade to preserve life-supporting ocean function. These are just two of eight measures recommended in a new study, to which Torsten Thiele from the Ocean Governance team at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) contributed.
“There is an urgent need for action, because there are signs that the ocean is changing at a faster pace than even recent models predicted,” says Thiele, one...16.08.2019 | Read more
No, they won’t help us with this particular environmental problem: Bacteria are definitely not able to decompose plastic released into marine environments, and they are unlikely to acquire this ability through evolution. This is the conclusion reached by microbiologists Sonja Oberbeckmann and Matthias Labrenz from the Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde (IOW) in a comprehensive review study concerning biofilms on microplastics. The results have now been published in the renowned international journal Annual Review of Marine Science.
Our waters are polluted with microplastics. Whether it’s fibres from fleece pullovers, plastic pellets from toothpaste or disintegrating plastic bags and...07.08.2019 | Read more
A team of scientists led by the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena has come a great deal closer to unlocking the secrets of organic compounds dissolved in soil water. The study, published in Nature Geoscience, shows that the dissolved molecules just are not stable degradation products. Instead, they include compounds that are intermediates indicative of a range of microbial build-up and degradation activities that are picked up as percolating water passes through the soil. The organic molecules present in soil solution therefore provides valuable information about biogeochemical processes in the soil, and a summary of the state of entire ecosystems and environmental changes.
Soils are where the atmosphere, plants, and soil-dwelling microorganisms meet. Processes in soil thus control the exchange of carbon dioxide between the land...06.08.2019 | Read more
Plastic should not be found in the environment. In order to estimate for the first time the exact extent of plastic pollution in Switzerland, the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) has mandated Empa researchers to calculate how much plastic gets into the environment. Empa has analyzed the seven most frequently used types of plastic. According to the study, more than 5000 tons of plastic are discharged into the environment every year. The results show that the plastic load on and in soils is much greater than in waters. Other plastics, in particular rubber, which is released into the environment from tire abrasion, were not part of the study.
The Empa study focused on specific types of plastic: polyethylene (LD-PE and HD-PE), polypropylene, polystyrene and expanded polystyrene, PVC and PET used for...12.07.2019 | Read more
In the right conditions, airplane contrails can linger in the sky as contrail cirrus – ice clouds that can trap heat inside the Earth’s atmosphere. Their climate impact has been largely neglected in global schemes to offset aviation emissions, even though contrail cirrus have contributed more to warming the atmosphere than all CO2 emitted by aircraft since the start of aviation. A new study published in the European Geosciences Union (EGU) journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics has found that, due to air traffic activity, the climate impact of contrail cirrus will be even more significant in the future, tripling by 2050.
Contrail cirrus change global cloudiness, which creates an imbalance in the Earth’s radiation budget – called ‘radiative forcing’ – that results in warming of...27.06.2019 | Read more
Scientists are developing alternative methods for assessing the fish-friendliness of hydroelectric power plants
Over the next three years, scientists at the Otto von Guericke University of Magdeburg will be working on replacing live animals with robotic fish in tests...17.06.2019 | Read more
UD's Andrew Wozniak investigates consequences of Deepwater Horizon oil spill
If you were able to stand on the bottom of the seafloor and look up, you would see flakes of falling organic material and biological debris cascading down the...12.06.2019 | Read more
Scientists discover that rapid warming in the gulf of maine's depths is changing food availability and increasing risk to one of the world's most endangered animals
New research connects recent changes in the movement of North Atlantic right whales to decreased food availability and rising temperatures in Gulf of Maine's...29.05.2019 | Read more
Algae farming is widespread in China. The macroalgae Laminaria is mainly used for food in China but its bioactive ingredients are also used, for example, in cosmetics, dietary supplements or as an additive to animal food. The industrial processing of Laminaria produces wastewater with a salinity of around 20 percent. A team led by Dr. Laurenz Thomsen, Professor of Geosciences at Jacobs University, and Postdoc Dr. Song Wang wants to clean this high-salinity wastewater with microalgal technology.
The cooperation partner is Shandong Haizhibao Ocean Science and Technology Co Ltd. Haizhibao is currently the biggest provider for macroalgae in China, with...14.05.2019 | Read more
Since their experimental discovery, magnetic skyrmions - tiny magnetic knots - have moved into the focus of research. Scientists from Hamburg and Kiel have now been able to show that individual magnetic skyrmions with a diameter of only a few nanometres can be stabilised in magnetic metal films even without an external magnetic field. They report on their discovery in the journal Nature Communications.
The existence of magnetic skyrmions as particle-like objects was predicted 30 years ago by theoretical physicists, but could only be proven experimentally in...
Theoretical physicists at Trinity College Dublin are among an international collaboration that has built the world's smallest engine - which, as a single calcium ion, is approximately ten billion times smaller than a car engine.
Work performed by Professor John Goold's QuSys group in Trinity's School of Physics describes the science behind this tiny motor.
Together with the University of Innsbruck, the ETH Zurich and Interactive Fully Electrical Vehicles SRL, Infineon Austria is researching specific questions on the commercial use of quantum computers. With new innovations in design and manufacturing, the partners from universities and industry want to develop affordable components for quantum computers.
Ion traps have proven to be a very successful technology for the control and manipulation of quantum particles. Today, they form the heart of the first...
Experimental progress towards engineering quantized gauge fields coupled to ultracold matter promises a versatile platform to tackle problems ranging from condensed-matter to high-energy physics
The interaction between fields and matter is a recurring theme throughout physics. Classical cases such as the trajectories of one celestial body moving in the...
Soft robots have a distinct advantage over their rigid forebears: they can adapt to complex environments, handle fragile objects and interact safely with humans. Made from silicone, rubber or other stretchable polymers, they are ideal for use in rehabilitation exoskeletons and robotic clothing. Soft bio-inspired robots could one day be deployed to explore remote or dangerous environments.
Most soft robots are actuated by rigid, noisy pumps that push fluids into the machines' moving parts. Because they are connected to these bulky pumps by tubes,...
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