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.
Atmospheric nitrogen deposition has a significant impact on both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, and alterations in its level will significantly affect the productivity and stability of an ecosystem.
In recent years, with the reduction of anthropogenic inorganic nitrogen emissions, interest in organic nitrogen (ON) has increased because it represents a...15.11.2019 | Read more
New catalytic method could mitigate global plastic pollution.
We depend on plastics in our daily life -- not just for conveniences like plastic bags and bottles, but also for essential applications like food packaging and...24.10.2019 | Read more
Freiburg hydrologist presents new results showing how sinking groundwater levels threaten the vitality of riverine ecosystems
Groundwater is the world's largest source of freshwater and it is of vital importance for food production. Increasing extraction of groundwater in recent...04.10.2019 | Read more
Although scientists have long made the underlying facts related to the man-made climate crisis very clear, a drastic reduction in greenhouse gases has yet to occur. The need for action is more urgent than ever.
How can I contribute to ensure that more people take an interest in the important issue of protecting the climate, the environment and nature and help them...04.10.2019 | Read more
Removing dead trees from the forests and reforesting on a large scale: this is the German Federal Government's strategy against "Forest Dieback 2.0". Ecologists from the University of Würzburg call for other solutions.
Bark beetles, heat, drought, storms, and fires have damaged the German forests. Those who go for a walk there often encounter dead spruces and dried beech...02.10.2019 | Read more
Research presented at the 2019 GSA Annual Meeting
From the Great Pacific garbage patch to inland rivers, plastics are among the most widespread contaminants on Earth. Microplastics -- particles of plastic...24.09.2019 | Read more
Sebastian L. Riedel and Stefan Junne from TU Berlin conduct research into using bacteria to replace plastics derived from fossil oil
450 million tons of plastic are produced globally each year. PHAs represent a tentative approach to defeating the plague that is plastic. PHA stands for...23.09.2019 | Read more
Fungicides are worldwide used in agriculture. Large amounts of applied fungicides leak into nearby surface waters. The effects of these substances on aquatic organisms are poorly understood and not specifically addressed in the EU regulatory frameworks with respect to the protection of surface waters. Scientists at the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) have found that pollution by fungicides can have unforeseen but far-reaching consequences for the functioning of aquatic systems – like indirect effects on the development of algal blooms.
The researchers investigated whether fungicides regularly used in agriculture such as tebuconazole or azoxystrobin influence the growth of aquatic fungi. In...17.09.2019 | Read more
When it comes to the impact of climate change on ecosystems, we still have large knowledge gaps. Most experiments are unrealistic because they do not correspond to projected climate scenarios for a specific region. As a result, we lack reliable data on what ecosystems might look like in the future, as a team of biodiversity researchers from Central Germany show in the journal "Global Change Biology". The team reviewed all experimental studies on the topic. The researchers are now calling for the introduction of common protocols for future experiments.
The facts that climate change is man-made and that it will alter ecosystems are indisputable. However, there is debate about its extent and its consequences....16.09.2019 | Read more
SUNCAT researchers discover a way to improve a key step in these conversions, and explore what it would take to turn the climate-changing gas into valuable products on an industrial scale.
One way to reduce the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which is now at its highest point in 800,000 years, would be to capture the potent greenhouse...10.09.2019 | 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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