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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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Plant seeds survive machine washing - Dispersal of invasive plants with clothes

After a walk in the fields you will often find plant seeds, or burrs, on your trousers and socks. These clingy seeds belong to plants that specialize in using animals to transport seeds in their fur to faraway places (epizoochory). Some of these plants, however, are invasive, i.e. they are from a different region and disperse very fast while turning native plant and sometimes animal communities upside down. Therefore, it is all the more important to know the pathways of dispersal of invasive species to take specific action.

Orsolya Valkó and her team from University of Debrecen, Hungary, studied an aspect of plant dispersal which has been so far overlooked: what is the fate of...

11.09.2018 | nachricht Read more

Air pollution leads to cardiovascular diseases

Air pollution, and fine dust in particular, is responsible for more than four million deaths each year. Almost 60 per cent of deaths occur as a result of cardiovascular diseases. Scientists around Univ.-Prof. Dr. Thomas Münzel, Director of Cardiology I, Department of Cardiology of the University Medical Center Mainz, reviewed the mechanisms responsible for vascular damage from air pollution together with scientists from the UK and the USA. The findings have been published in the latest issue of the world's most recognized cardiology journal, the European Heart Journal: https://bit.ly/2OICxkN.

The large percentage of deaths from cardiovascular disease has prompted an international group of experts from Germany, England and the USA to analyze the...

21.08.2018 | nachricht Read more

Plenty of habitat for bears in Europe

Great opportunity for European brown bears: a new study spearheaded by the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) shows that there are still many areas in Europe where bears are extinct but with suitable habitat for hosting the species. An effective management of the species, including a reduction of direct pressures by humans (like hunting), has the potential to help these animals come back in many of these areas, according to the head of the study. It is now important to plan the recovery of the species while taking measures to prevent conflicts.

Some 500 years ago, there were brown bears almost everywhere in Europe. However, in the following centuries they were wiped out in many places, including...

24.07.2018 | nachricht Read more

Waste in the water – New purification techniques for healthier aquatic ecosystems

Evolutionary biologists from the University of Tübingen investigate how water treatments affect fish

Even tiny amounts of toxins in rivers and lakes can endanger aquatic organisms. The public has become more aware of this environmental problem in recent years....

24.07.2018 | nachricht Read more

Upcycling of PET Bottles: New Ideas for Resource Cycles in Germany

The new research project, UpcyclePET, is developing an innovative process for high quality cycle utilization of polyethylene terephthalate (PET). This research project enables the recovery of PET waste from plastic bottles to be used in high-grade industrial applications, and it targets to reduce the use of new polyamide-based plastic parts. The project team consists of the company EASICOMP GmbH, the Fraunhofer Institute for Structural Durability and System Reliability LBF, and the Institute for Applied Ecology (Öko-Institut e.V.). Further details on these studies will be presented at the Compounding World Expo 2018 in Essen, from June 27 to June 28, at booth 707.

Upcycling Instead of Recycling

25.06.2018 | nachricht Read more

Dry landscapes can increase disease transmission

In water-limited landscapes sick animals can have increased contact with healthy individuals, which can facilitate disease transmission. Scientists from the German Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) present these findings in the British Ecological Society journal Functional Ecology.

Sick individuals often behave differently. For example, they usually sleep more and eat less. Accordingly, one could expect that sick individuals have less...

20.06.2018 | nachricht Read more

100 % Organic Farming in Bhutan – a Realistic Target?

Team of researchers from the HU look into macroeconomic impacts of the planned changeover

Bhutan, the small kingdom in the eastern Himalayas, is mainly known for its unique philosophy by the name of Gross National Happiness. It has also drawn...

15.06.2018 | nachricht Read more

What the size distribution of organisms tells us about the energetic efficiency of a lake

The size distribution of organisms in a lake facilitates robust conclusions to be drawn on the energy efficiency in the food web, as researchers from the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) and international colleagues have now demonstrated empirically. This relationship enables scientists to gain a better and more direct understanding of biological processes and disturbances that impact aquatic ecosystems.

Any single habitat is only able to accommodate a certain number of large organisms because these must feed on smaller creatures. In ecology, this connection is...

05.06.2018 | nachricht Read more

When corals eat plastics

Study at the University of Giessen shows negative effects of microplastic particles on corals – part of the research project “Ocean 2100” at the German-Colombian Center of Excellence in Marine Sciences CEMarin

Coral reefs belong to the most diverse habitats on our planet. Thousands of species of fish use corals as shelter, food source and nursery. However, coral...

24.05.2018 | nachricht Read more

Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?

How do fish end up in isolated bodies of water when they can’t swim there themselves? For centuries, researchers have assumed that water birds transfer fish eggs into these waters – however, a systematic literature review by researchers at the University of Basel has shown that there is no evidence of this to date.

Small lakes with a surface area of less than 100 m2 represent the majority of global freshwater ecosystems. Many of these lakes are found in remote, often...

19.02.2018 | nachricht Read more
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Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Working the switches for axon branching

Our brain is a complex network with innumerable connections between cells. Neuronal cells have long thin extensions, so-called axons, which are branched to increase the number of interactions. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have collaborated with researchers from Portugal and France to study cellular branching processes. They demonstrated a novel mechanism that induces branching of microtubules, an intracellular support system. The newly discovered dynamics of microtubules has a key role in neuronal development. The results were recently published in the journal Nature Cell Biology.

From the twigs of trees to railroad switches – our environment teems with rigid branched objects. These objects are so omnipresent in our lives, we barely...

Im Focus: Hygiene at your fingertips with the new CleanHand Network

The Fraunhofer FEP has been involved in developing processes and equipment for cleaning, sterilization, and surface modification for decades. The CleanHand Network for development of systems and technologies to clean surfaces, materials, and objects was established in May 2018 to bundle the expertise of many partnering organizations. As a partner in the CleanHand Network, Fraunhofer FEP will present the Network and current research topics of the Institute in the field of hygiene and cleaning at the parts2clean trade fair, October 23-25, 2018 in Stuttgart, at the booth of the Fraunhofer Cleaning Technology Alliance (Hall 5, Booth C31).

Test reports and studies on the cleanliness of European motorway rest areas, hotel beds, and outdoor pools increasingly appear in the press, especially during...

Im Focus: Scientists present new observations to understand the phase transition in quantum chromodynamics

The building blocks of matter in our universe were formed in the first 10 microseconds of its existence, according to the currently accepted scientific picture. After the Big Bang about 13.7 billion years ago, matter consisted mainly of quarks and gluons, two types of elementary particles whose interactions are governed by quantum chromodynamics (QCD), the theory of strong interaction. In the early universe, these particles moved (nearly) freely in a quark-gluon plasma.

This is a joint press release of University Muenster and Heidelberg as well as the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung in Darmstadt.

Then, in a phase transition, they combined and formed hadrons, among them the building blocks of atomic nuclei, protons and neutrons. In the current issue of...

Im Focus: Patented nanostructure for solar cells: Rough optics, smooth surface

Thin-film solar cells made of crystalline silicon are inexpensive and achieve efficiencies of a good 14 percent. However, they could do even better if their shiny surfaces reflected less light. A team led by Prof. Christiane Becker from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) has now patented a sophisticated new solution to this problem.

"It is not enough simply to bring more light into the cell," says Christiane Becker. Such surface structures can even ultimately reduce the efficiency by...

Im Focus: New soft coral species discovered in Panama

A study in the journal Bulletin of Marine Science describes a new, blood-red species of octocoral found in Panama. The species in the genus Thesea was discovered in the threatened low-light reef environment on Hannibal Bank, 60 kilometers off mainland Pacific Panama, by researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama (STRI) and the Centro de Investigación en Ciencias del Mar y Limnología (CIMAR) at the University of Costa Rica.

Scientists established the new species, Thesea dalioi, by comparing its physical traits, such as branch thickness and the bright red colony color, with the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

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