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.
What does the blue whale have in common with the Bengal tiger and the green turtle? They share the risk of extinction and are classified as endangered species. There are multiple reasons for species to die out, and climate changes is among the main reasons.
The risk of extinction varies from species to species depending on how individuals in its populations reproduce and how long each animal survives....14.01.2019 | Read more
A team of researchers led by wildlife ecologist Theresa Walter analysed over 1,100 fox sightings made by the public as part of the citizen science project StadtWildTiere (www.stadtwildtiere.at). The joint team of researchers from the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna) and the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU) was able to show that foxes prefer specific city areas and environments. The study also revealed that reports of fox sightings correlated with the educational level of the population.
Urban habitats are becoming increasingly more important for several wildlife species. Foxes, for example, have become successful inhabitants of urban areas in...14.12.2018 | Read more
New analytics approach identifies 15,000 at-risk species
There are many organizations monitoring endangered species such as elephants and tigers, but what about the millions of other species on the planet -- ones...04.12.2018 | Read more
The Annamite mountains of Vietnam and Lao PDR (Laos) harbour exceptional species richness and endemism, but its wildlife is under threat from widespread and intensive poaching. The region is home to the Annamite striped rabbit (Nesolagus timminsi), a little-known lagomorph only discovered by science in 1995. A new study carried out by the Leibniz Institute for Zoo- and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) in collaboration with WWF-Vietnam, WWF-Laos, and the Central Institute for Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences (CRES) of the Vietnam National University, provides the first detailed information about the species ecology. The study is published in the international journal Oryx.
The researchers used camera-trapping to study the Annamite striped rabbit in five areas of Vietnam and Laos. Camera traps placed across the landscape showed...20.11.2018 | Read more
Which plant species grow where, alongside which others - and why? The diversity of global vegetation can be described based on only a few traits from each species. This has been revealed by a research team led by Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig. In a new study published in the scientific journal “Nature Ecology & Evolution”, they present the world's first global vegetation database which contains over 1.1 million complete lists of plant species sampled across all Earth’s ecosystems. The database could help better predict the consequences of global climate change.
All plants face the same challenges, whether they are small grasses, shrubs or trees. “For example, they have to find an efficient way to conduct...20.11.2018 | Read more
Researchers from Oldenburg support project Ocean Cleanup
Ghost nets and other plastic garbage drifting in the sea could soon be detected automatically by planes, drones or satellites. The basis for this has been laid...19.11.2018 | Read more
Orangutan populations are still declining rapidly, despite claims by the Indonesian Government that things are looking better for the red apes. In the journal Current Biology, a team of scientists including Maria Voigt of the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology criticise the use of inappropriate methods for assessing management impacts on wildlife trends. The researchers call for scientifically sound measures to be employed in order to ensure that wildlife monitoring provides reliable numbers.
A recent report by the Government of Indonesia states that orangutan populations have increased by more than 10% from 2015 to 2017. These numbers are...06.11.2018 | Read more
A large-scale, long-term experiment on kelp forests off Southern California brings new insight to how the biodiversity of coastal ecosystems could be impacted over time as a changing climate potentially increases the frequency of ocean storms.
Researchers at the University of Virginia and the University of California, Santa Barbara experimentally mimicked the loss of undersea giant kelp forests at...30.10.2018 | Read more
Environmental researchers at the Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde (IOW) have developed a novel mobile device for recording microplastics in surface waters. They call it the “Rocket”, a design with which depending on the amount of suspended matter in the water up to 60 litres per minute can be sucked through four cartridge filters, and which is particularly advantageous for sampling the fine fraction of the microplastic in the range down to 10 µm. The scientists were specially challenged by the fact that plastic had to be avoided as far as possible. The successful results of the test phase have now been published by them in the international scientific journal “Water”.
Microplastics are omnipresent in the environment. Whether in the Arctic ice, the sand of the Sahara or the sediments of the deep sea – environmental...22.10.2018 | Read more
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 | Read more
So-called bifacial stem cells are responsible for one of the most critical growth processes on Earth – the formation of wood.
Immune cells called macrophages are supposed to serve and protect, but cancer has found ways to put them to sleep. Now researchers at the Abramson Cancer...
The scientific and political community alike stress the importance of German Antarctic research
Joint Press Release from the BMBF and AWI
The Antarctic is a frigid continent south of the Antarctic Circle, where researchers are the only inhabitants. Despite the hostile conditions, here the Alfred...
World first experiments on sensor that may revolutionise everything from medical devices to unmanned vehicles
The new sensor - capable of detecting vibrations of living cells - may revolutionise everything from medical devices to unmanned vehicles.
Dead and alive at the same time? Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have implemented Erwin Schrödinger’s paradoxical gedanken experiment employing an entangled atom-light state.
In 1935 Erwin Schrödinger formulated a thought experiment designed to capture the paradoxical nature of quantum physics. The crucial element of this gedanken...
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