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.
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
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 | Read more
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 | Read more
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 | Read more
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 Recycling25.06.2018 | Read more
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 | Read more
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,...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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