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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.

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100 % Organic Farming in Bhutan – a Realistic Target?

Team of researchers from the HU look into macroeconomic impacts of the planned changeover

Bhutan, the small kingdom in the eastern Himalayas, is mainly known for its unique philosophy by the name of Gross National Happiness. It has also drawn...

15.06.2018 | nachricht Read more

What the size distribution of organisms tells us about the energetic efficiency of a lake

The size distribution of organisms in a lake facilitates robust conclusions to be drawn on the energy efficiency in the food web, as researchers from the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) and international colleagues have now demonstrated empirically. This relationship enables scientists to gain a better and more direct understanding of biological processes and disturbances that impact aquatic ecosystems.

Any single habitat is only able to accommodate a certain number of large organisms because these must feed on smaller creatures. In ecology, this connection is...

05.06.2018 | nachricht Read more

When corals eat plastics

Study at the University of Giessen shows negative effects of microplastic particles on corals – part of the research project “Ocean 2100” at the German-Colombian Center of Excellence in Marine Sciences CEMarin

Coral reefs belong to the most diverse habitats on our planet. Thousands of species of fish use corals as shelter, food source and nursery. However, coral...

24.05.2018 | nachricht Read more

Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?

How do fish end up in isolated bodies of water when they can’t swim there themselves? For centuries, researchers have assumed that water birds transfer fish eggs into these waters – however, a systematic literature review by researchers at the University of Basel has shown that there is no evidence of this to date.

Small lakes with a surface area of less than 100 m2 represent the majority of global freshwater ecosystems. Many of these lakes are found in remote, often...

19.02.2018 | nachricht Read more

Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped

Removing fossil fuel subsidies would have only a small effect on CO2 emissions and renewable energy use, new research has shown. The largest emissions savings would be in oil and gas exporting countries, where fewer poor people would be affected, and subsidy removal can be aided by currently low oil prices.

Fossil fuel subsidies amount to hundreds of billions of dollars worldwide, and removing them has been held up as a key answer to climate change mitigation....

08.02.2018 | nachricht Read more

The disappearance of common species

Insect die-off: Even common species are becoming rare

Together with their colleagues from the Senckenberg Nature Research Society, scientists of the Technical University of Munich (TUM) were able to show that...

01.02.2018 | nachricht Read more

Mammals move less in human-modified landscapes

On average, mammals move only half to one third of the distance in human-modified landscapes than they do in the wild. These findings have been published today by an international team lead by researchers at the Senckenberg Nature Research Society and Goethe University Frankfurt in the journal Science. It is the first time this topic has been examined at a global scale and for many different species at once. The authors highlight that these results may have far-reaching consequences for ecosystems and in turn, for society.

Most mammals are on the move every day while searching for food, to find a mate or to seek out shelter. Some larger mammals like zebra generally move longer...

26.01.2018 | nachricht Read more

Scientists on the road to discovering impact of urban road dust

Sunlight creates chemical reactions, researchers discover. Next step is to find out what they are and how they affect us.

In an attempt to better understand the urban environment and its components, scientists have discovered that sunlight causes chemical reactions in the dust...

18.01.2018 | nachricht Read more

Gran Chaco: Biodiversity at High Risk

Immediate conservation activities could secure habitats in South America’s largest tropical dry forest

A new study published in the Journal of Applied Ecology shows that agricultural expansion and intensification lead to major biodiversity losses in the Gran...

17.01.2018 | nachricht Read more

Dead trees are alive with fungi

Species-specific fungal communities colonise dead wood

So far, little research has been conducted on fungi that live on dead trees, although they are vital to the forest ecology by breaking down dead wood and...

10.01.2018 | 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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