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.
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
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 | Read more
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 | Read more
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 | Read more
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 are13.02.2020 | Read more
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 | Read more
Kiel physics team observed extremely fast electronic changes in real time in a special material class
In physics, they are currently the subject of intensive research; in electronics, they could enable completely new functions. So-called topological materials...
Solar cells based on perovskite compounds could soon make electricity generation from sunlight even more efficient and cheaper. The laboratory efficiency of these perovskite solar cells already exceeds that of the well-known silicon solar cells. An international team led by Stefan Weber from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz has found microscopic structures in perovskite crystals that can guide the charge transport in the solar cell. Clever alignment of these "electron highways" could make perovskite solar cells even more powerful.
Solar cells convert sunlight into electricity. During this process, the electrons of the material inside the cell absorb the energy of the light....
Empa researchers have succeeded in applying aerogels to microelectronics: Aerogels based on cellulose nanofibers can effectively shield electromagnetic radiation over a wide frequency range – and they are unrivalled in terms of weight.
Electric motors and electronic devices generate electromagnetic fields that sometimes have to be shielded in order not to affect neighboring electronic...
A promising operating mode for the plasma of a future power plant has been developed at the ASDEX Upgrade fusion device at Max Planck Institute for Plasma...
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