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.
Corals are shown to recycle their own waste ammonium using a surprising source of glucose--a finding that reveals more about the relationship between corals and their symbiotic algae.
Symbiosis between corals and algae provides the backbone for building coral reefs, particularly in nutrient-poor waters like the Red Sea. Algae and corals...04.09.2019 | Read more
To date, it is nothing but the wishful thinking of many plastics recyclers: that recyclability is taken into account right from the very beginning of a product’s life cycle, at the product design stage. A new project aims at making this dream come true.
Whether multi-layered food packaging, power cable sheathing or a toothbrush: Many plastic products cannot be recycled. This is the case, for example, when...02.09.2019 | Read more
With 13 million inhabitants, Manila is one of the largest megacities in Southeast Asia. At the same time, the capital of the Philippines is one of the cities with the highest air pollution worldwide: soot pollution is about 50 times higher than found in Europe. The risk of developing lung cancer is about 1000 times higher. A strategy on how to get this massive environmental problem under control will be developed by a new research project over the next one and a half years. Environmental, social and health scientists from Germany and the Philippines will work together with NGOs, politicians and affected citizens to find solutions.
By improving the living conditions for the people of Manila, the project also aims to contribute to the United Nations' Agenda 2030 for Sustainable...22.08.2019 | Read more
A comprehensive High Seas Treaty and extensive marine protected areas are urgently needed in the next decade to preserve life-supporting ocean function. These are just two of eight measures recommended in a new study, to which Torsten Thiele from the Ocean Governance team at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) contributed.
“There is an urgent need for action, because there are signs that the ocean is changing at a faster pace than even recent models predicted,” says Thiele, one...16.08.2019 | Read more
No, they won’t help us with this particular environmental problem: Bacteria are definitely not able to decompose plastic released into marine environments, and they are unlikely to acquire this ability through evolution. This is the conclusion reached by microbiologists Sonja Oberbeckmann and Matthias Labrenz from the Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde (IOW) in a comprehensive review study concerning biofilms on microplastics. The results have now been published in the renowned international journal Annual Review of Marine Science.
Our waters are polluted with microplastics. Whether it’s fibres from fleece pullovers, plastic pellets from toothpaste or disintegrating plastic bags and...07.08.2019 | Read more
A team of scientists led by the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena has come a great deal closer to unlocking the secrets of organic compounds dissolved in soil water. The study, published in Nature Geoscience, shows that the dissolved molecules just are not stable degradation products. Instead, they include compounds that are intermediates indicative of a range of microbial build-up and degradation activities that are picked up as percolating water passes through the soil. The organic molecules present in soil solution therefore provides valuable information about biogeochemical processes in the soil, and a summary of the state of entire ecosystems and environmental changes.
Soils are where the atmosphere, plants, and soil-dwelling microorganisms meet. Processes in soil thus control the exchange of carbon dioxide between the land...06.08.2019 | Read more
Plastic should not be found in the environment. In order to estimate for the first time the exact extent of plastic pollution in Switzerland, the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) has mandated Empa researchers to calculate how much plastic gets into the environment. Empa has analyzed the seven most frequently used types of plastic. According to the study, more than 5000 tons of plastic are discharged into the environment every year. The results show that the plastic load on and in soils is much greater than in waters. Other plastics, in particular rubber, which is released into the environment from tire abrasion, were not part of the study.
The Empa study focused on specific types of plastic: polyethylene (LD-PE and HD-PE), polypropylene, polystyrene and expanded polystyrene, PVC and PET used for...12.07.2019 | Read more
In the right conditions, airplane contrails can linger in the sky as contrail cirrus – ice clouds that can trap heat inside the Earth’s atmosphere. Their climate impact has been largely neglected in global schemes to offset aviation emissions, even though contrail cirrus have contributed more to warming the atmosphere than all CO2 emitted by aircraft since the start of aviation. A new study published in the European Geosciences Union (EGU) journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics has found that, due to air traffic activity, the climate impact of contrail cirrus will be even more significant in the future, tripling by 2050.
Contrail cirrus change global cloudiness, which creates an imbalance in the Earth’s radiation budget – called ‘radiative forcing’ – that results in warming of...27.06.2019 | Read more
Scientists are developing alternative methods for assessing the fish-friendliness of hydroelectric power plants
Over the next three years, scientists at the Otto von Guericke University of Magdeburg will be working on replacing live animals with robotic fish in tests...17.06.2019 | Read more
UD's Andrew Wozniak investigates consequences of Deepwater Horizon oil spill
If you were able to stand on the bottom of the seafloor and look up, you would see flakes of falling organic material and biological debris cascading down the...12.06.2019 | 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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