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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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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

Finding plastic litter from afar

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 | nachricht Read more

Despite government claims, orangutan populations have not increased. Call for better monitoring

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 | nachricht Read more

Increasing frequency of ocean storms could alter kelp forest ecosystems

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 | nachricht Read more

Enabling a plastic-free microplastic hunt: "Rocket" improves detection of very small particles

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 | nachricht Read more

Plant seeds survive machine washing - Dispersal of invasive plants with clothes

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 | nachricht Read more

Air pollution leads to cardiovascular diseases

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 | nachricht Read more

Plenty of habitat for bears in Europe

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 | nachricht Read more

Waste in the water – New purification techniques for healthier aquatic ecosystems

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

Im Focus: New opportunities in additive manufacturing presented

Fraunhofer IFAM Dresden demonstrates manufacturing of copper components

The Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM in Dresden has succeeded in using Selective Electron Beam Melting (SEBM) to...

Im Focus: New Pitt research finds carbon nanotubes show a love/hate relationship with water

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are valuable for a wide variety of applications. Made of graphene sheets rolled into tubes 10,000 times smaller than a human hair, CNTs have an exceptional strength-to-mass ratio and excellent thermal and electrical properties. These features make them ideal for a range of applications, including supercapacitors, interconnects, adhesives, particle trapping and structural color.

New research reveals even more potential for CNTs: as a coating, they can both repel and hold water in place, a useful property for applications like printing,...

Im Focus: Magnets for the second dimension

If you've ever tried to put several really strong, small cube magnets right next to each other on a magnetic board, you'll know that you just can't do it. What happens is that the magnets always arrange themselves in a column sticking out vertically from the magnetic board. Moreover, it's almost impossible to join several rows of these magnets together to form a flat surface. That's because magnets are dipolar. Equal poles repel each other, with the north pole of one magnet always attaching itself to the south pole of another and vice versa. This explains why they form a column with all the magnets aligned the same way.

Now, scientists at ETH Zurich have managed to create magnetic building blocks in the shape of cubes that - for the first time ever - can be joined together to...

Im Focus: A new quantum data classification protocol brings us nearer to a future 'quantum internet'

The algorithm represents a first step in the automated learning of quantum information networks

Quantum-based communication and computation technologies promise unprecedented applications, such as unconditionally secure communications, ultra-precise...

Im Focus: Distorted Atoms

In two experiments performed at the free-electron laser FLASH in Hamburg a cooperation led by physicists from the Heidelberg Max Planck Institute for Nuclear physics (MPIK) demonstrated strongly-driven nonlinear interaction of ultrashort extreme-ultraviolet (XUV) laser pulses with atoms and ions. The powerful excitation of an electron pair in helium was found to compete with the ultrafast decay, which temporarily may even lead to population inversion. Resonant transitions in doubly charged neon ions were shifted in energy, and observed by XUV-XUV pump-probe transient absorption spectroscopy.

An international team led by physicists from the MPIK reports on new results for efficient two-electron excitations in helium driven by strong and ultrashort...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

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