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.
The construction sector accounts for a quarter of carbon dioxide emissions, in Sweden and globally. Researchers from Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg studied the construction of an eight km stretch of road in detail and calculated how much emissions can be reduced now and until 2045, looking at everything from materials choice, production technology, supply chains and transport.
“We identified several low hanging fruits, and if we address those first, it will become easier and cheaper to make bigger emission reductions in the future,”...18.05.2020 | Read more
Today, microplastics can be detected in almost every ecosystem in the world. Despite intensive research into this massive environmental problem, it is still a challenge to identify and quantify these synthetic particles made of various types of plastic in environmental samples. A team of researchers at the Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde (IOW) has now for the first time compiled a comprehensive overview of methods that enables the use of standardized microplastics extraction workflows optimized for samples with very different properties. This includes methods newly developed at the IOW, among them protocols suitable for detecting particles smaller than 0.5 millimetres.
Whether on a Baltic Sea beach, in the sludge of local sewage plants, and on our fields or in the Arctic ice, in Sahara dust and deep-sea sediments – by now,...11.05.2020 | Read more
Deep-sea mining could provide a way to address the increasing need for rare metals. Its environmental impact is only partially known. In addition, there is a lack of clear standards to regulate mining and set binding thresholds for the impact on the organisms living in affected areas. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology together with colleagues at the Alfred Wegener Institute, the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research, and other institutes now describe that deep-sea mining-related disturbances also have a long-term impact on the natural ecosystem functions and microbial communities at the seafloor. They present their results in the journal Science Advances.
Polymetallic nodules and crusts cover many thousands of square kilometres of the world's deep-sea floor. They contain mainly manganese and iron, but also the...30.04.2020 | Read more
Model shows recycling could dramatically slash cities' need for fresh water resources
Delivering water to city dwellers can become far more efficient, according to Rice University researchers who say it should involve a healthy level of recycled...28.04.2020 | Read more
In many areas of life, petroleum-based plastics are being replaced with biobased and biodegradable plastics. This also applies to microcapsules, which are used, for example, to encapsulate fragrances in detergents or cosmetics. Although the biobased plastics are produced from renewable raw materials and supposed to be biodegradable per se, they often have to be chemically modified in order to improve materials’ durability, for example. But to what extent are these modified biobased microcapsules still biodegradable? A team of researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP is focusing on this question.
Natural substances are inherently biodegradable. They are undergoing a natural decomposition process in which organic matter is broken down by enzymes of...23.04.2020 | Read more
Using data from the online world to gain new insights for environmental research – the concept for the new research area iEcology was developed by an international team around Ivan Jarić from the Czech Academy of Sciences with the participation of Gregor Kalinkat from the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB). In the journal Trends in Ecology & Evolution the researchers describe the possibilities, challenges and potential future fields of application of iEcology.
Even though we often assume that our online enthusiasm alienates us from nature, the huge and ever-increasing amount of data on the Internet conceals a lot of...14.04.2020 | Read more
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 | Read more
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 | Read more
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 | Read more
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 | Read more
In living cells, enzymes drive biochemical metabolic processes enabling reactions to take place efficiently. It is this very ability which allows them to be used as catalysts in biotechnology, for example to create chemical products such as pharmaceutics. Researchers now identified an enzyme that, when illuminated with blue light, becomes catalytically active and initiates a reaction that was previously unknown in enzymatics. The study was published in "Nature Communications".
Enzymes: they are the central drivers for biochemical metabolic processes in every living cell, enabling reactions to take place efficiently. It is this very...
Early detection of tumors is extremely important in treating cancer. A new technique developed by researchers at the University of California, Davis offers a significant advance in using magnetic resonance imaging to pick out even very small tumors from normal tissue. The work is published May 25 in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.
researchers at the University of California, Davis offers a significant advance in using magnetic resonance imaging to pick out even very small tumors from...
Microelectronics as a key technology enables numerous innovations in the field of intelligent medical technology. The Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering IBMT coordinates the BMBF cooperative project "I-call" realizing the first electronic system for ultrasound-based, safe and interference-resistant data transmission between implants in the human body.
When microelectronic systems are used for medical applications, they have to meet high requirements in terms of biocompatibility, reliability, energy...
Thomas Heine, Professor of Theoretical Chemistry at TU Dresden, together with his team, first predicted a topological 2D polymer in 2019. Only one year later, an international team led by Italian researchers was able to synthesize these materials and experimentally prove their topological properties. For the renowned journal Nature Materials, this was the occasion to invite Thomas Heine to a News and Views article, which was published this week. Under the title "Making 2D Topological Polymers a reality" Prof. Heine describes how his theory became a reality.
Ultrathin materials are extremely interesting as building blocks for next generation nano electronic devices, as it is much easier to make circuits and other...
Scientists took a leukocyte as the blueprint and developed a microrobot that has the size, shape and moving capabilities of a white blood cell. Simulating a blood vessel in a laboratory setting, they succeeded in magnetically navigating the ball-shaped microroller through this dynamic and dense environment. The drug-delivery vehicle withstood the simulated blood flow, pushing the developments in targeted drug delivery a step further: inside the body, there is no better access route to all tissues and organs than the circulatory system. A robot that could actually travel through this finely woven web would revolutionize the minimally-invasive treatment of illnesses.
A team of scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems (MPI-IS) in Stuttgart invented a tiny microrobot that resembles a white blood cell...
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