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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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Loss of habitat causes double damage to species richness

Loss and fragmentation of habitat are among the main reasons why biodiversity is decreasing in many places worldwide. Now, a research team with participation of the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) has established that the destruction of habitat causes double damage to biodiversity; if habitat patches disappear, not only do the species living there become extinct, but species richness in neighbouring patches also declines. The reason for this additional species loss is the large physical distances between the remaining habitat patches, the researchers write in the journal Ecology Letters.

For their study, scientists from the iDiv research centre, the Uni Halle and the WasserCluster Lunz research centre in Austria used long-term data on the...

02.04.2019 | nachricht Read more

Deep decarbonization of industry is possible with innovations

On behalf of the EU Commission, Fraunhofer ISI explored what contribution individual technologies can make to decarbonizing industry and how to support them. The study shows that it is possible to cut emissions by 95% by 2050. However, this requires innovative carbon-neutral technologies and comprehensive technological change – especially in basic materials industries. In addition, Fraunhofer ISI examined the role of an innovation fund to aid the market diffusion of these technologies using revenue from the EU emissions trading system.

Industry is responsible for about 20 percent of the EU-wide greenhouse gas emissions. It will have to reduce its emissions to almost zero by 2050 to meet the...

25.03.2019 | nachricht Read more

Five-point plan to integrate recreational fishers into fisheries and nature conservation policy

There are roughly five times as many recreational fishers as commercial fishers throughout the world. And yet, the needs and peculiarities of these 220 million recreational fishers have largely been ignored in international fisheries and conservation policy. This gives rise to conflicts and loss of social welfare, and is not conducive to the sustainable management of fish stocks. An international team of fisheries scientists, economists, sociologists and ecologists led by Robert Arlinghaus from the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) has now presented a five-point plan to bring about reform.

Compared to commercial fishing, the social, economic and ecological importance of recreational fisheries is greatly underestimated in public and political...

20.03.2019 | nachricht Read more

Rain is important for how carbon dioxide affects grasslands

Vegetation biomass on grasslands increases in response to elevated carbon dioxide levels, but less than expected. Vegetation on grasslands with a wet spring season has the greatest increase. This has been demonstrated in a new study published in the scientific journal Nature Plants.

An important, but uncertain, factor in climate research is the extent to which all ecosystems can accumulate carbon from the increasing atmospheric...

06.03.2019 | nachricht Read more

Northeast-Atlantic fish stocks: Recovery driven by improved management

Sustainable exploitation of wild fish is possible, but only when fisheries policies are implemented that ensure precautionary catch regulations

Due to overcapacities in fishing fleets and insufficiently regulated catches, many fish stocks in the Northeast-Atlantic had reached very low levels by the end...

04.02.2019 | nachricht Read more

New mathematical model can help save endangered species

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 | nachricht Read more

Foxes in the city: citizen science helps researchers to study urban wildlife

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 | nachricht Read more

Machine learning helps predict worldwide plant-conservation priorities

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 | nachricht Read more

Fading stripes in Southeast Asia: First insight into the ecology of an elusive and threatened rabbit

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 | nachricht Read more

From the Arctic to the tropics: researchers present a unique database on Earth’s vegetation

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

Im Focus: A miniature stretchable pump for the next generation of soft robots

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,...

Im Focus: Vehicle Emissions: New sensor technology to improve air quality in cities

Researchers at TU Graz are working together with European partners on new possibilities of measuring vehicle emissions.

Today, air pollution is one of the biggest challenges facing European cities. As part of the Horizon 2020 research project CARES (City Air Remote Emission...

Im Focus: Self healing robots that "feel pain"

Over the next three years, researchers from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, University of Cambridge, École Supérieure de Physique et de Chimie Industrielles de la ville de Paris (ESPCI-Paris) and Empa will be working together with the Dutch Polymer manufacturer SupraPolix on the next generation of robots: (soft) robots that ‘feel pain’ and heal themselves. The partners can count on 3 million Euro in support from the European Commission.

Soon robots will not only be found in factories and laboratories, but will be assisting us in our immediate environment. They will help us in the household, to...

Im Focus: Scientists create the world's thinnest gold

Scientists at the University of Leeds have created a new form of gold which is just two atoms thick - the thinnest unsupported gold ever created.

The researchers measured the thickness of the gold to be 0.47 nanometres - that is one million times thinner than a human finger nail. The material is regarded...

Im Focus: Study on attosecond timescale casts new light on electron dynamics in transition metals

An international team of scientists involving the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has unraveled the light-induced electron-localization dynamics in transition metals at the attosecond timescale. The team investigated for the first time the many-body electron dynamics in transition metals before thermalization sets in. Their work has now appeared in Nature Physics.

The researchers from ETH Zurich (Switzerland), the MPSD (Germany), the Center for Computational Sciences of University of Tsukuba (Japan) and the Center for...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

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