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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.

Latest News:

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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

Management of mountain meadows influences resilience to climate extremes

The species-rich mountain meadows of the Alps are subject to continuous land use changes and increasingly frequent climatic extremes. Persistent periods of drought are seen as the greatest threat to grassland ecosystems. To find out how a change in management influences the drought reaction of mountain meadows, a research team from the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena together with international cooperation partners carried out field experiments in the Tyrolean Stubai Valley.

The results of the study, currently published in the Journal of Ecology, show that land use controls the resistance and recovery capacity of mountain meadows...

10.01.2018 | nachricht Read more

Trawl of Red Sea surface waters finds little plastic

Researchers are mapping global patterns of marine plastic pollution as alarm grows over floating rubbish. A team led by marine scientist Carlos Duarte from KAUST shows that the level of plastic debris in the Red Sea is relatively low.

Samples of floating plastic rubbish were collected by the team from 120 sites along 1500km of shoreline on the eastern margin of the Red Sea during voyages in...

09.01.2018 | nachricht Read more

Listening in: Acoustic monitoring devices detect illegal hunting and logging

Populations of large cats such as jaguars and pumas are in global decline due to habitat loss and indiscriminate hunting of them and their prey by humans. Newly developed acoustic loggers are able to record sounds of shotguns and chainsaws, shedding light on the frequency and patterns of illegal exploitation. The results, presented today at the ‘Ecology across Borders’ conference in Ghent, Belgium will help monitor biodiversity and reduce human-wildlife conflicts in tropical forests.

Ecologists from the University of Southampton (UK) and Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (Mexico) have been studying the presence and distribution of the...

14.12.2017 | nachricht Read more

Using drones to estimate crop damage by wild boars

Growing populations of wild boar (Sus scrofa L.) are causing more and more damage to agricultural land in Europe, requiring hundreds of thousands of Euros in compensation. A new drone-based method allows estimating crop damage in a fast, standardised and objective manner.

Anneleen Rutten, PhD student at the University of Antwerp and the Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO, Brussels) will present the method at the...

12.12.2017 | nachricht Read more

How fires are changing the tundra’s face

Climate change takes a heavy toll on the tundra, increasing the probability of extreme droughts. As a result, the frequency of fires in forests, bogs and even wetlands continues to rise. In addition, the northern areas of the tundra have also become more accessible and negatively impacted by human activities in recent years.

Two young ecologists from the University of Münster are studying the serious consequences fires can have for vegetation, soils and some endangered bird...

12.12.2017 | nachricht Read more

Minimized water consumption in CSP plants - EU project MinWaterCSP is making good progress

In Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plants, collectors are bundling the sunlight on an absorber in order to generate electricity. In the Horizon 2020 project MinWaterCSP, the consortium aims to reduce the annual water consumption of a CSP plant through a number of complementary measures while maintaining or even improving thermal efficiency and reducing capital costs. Eighteen months into the project, the MinWaterCSP project partners have already achieved excellent results.

In Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plants, collectors are bundling the sunlight on an absorber in order to generate electricity. CSP plants are often installed...

05.12.2017 | nachricht Read more

Jena Experiment: Loss of species destroys ecosystems

How serious is the loss of species globally? Are material cycles in an ecosystem with few species changed? In order to find this out, the "Jena Experiment" was established in 2002, one of the largest biodiversity experiments worldwide. Professor Wolfgang Weisser from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) reports on two unexpected findings of the long-term study: Biodiversity influences almost half the processes in the ecosystem, and intensive grassland management does not result in higher yields than high biodiversity.

An ecosystem provides humans with natural "services", such as the fertility of the soil, the quality of the groundwater, the production of food, and...

28.11.2017 | nachricht Read more

Species may appear deceptively resilient to climate change

Ecological air conditioning offers short-term protection from a warming climate

Nature itself can be the best defense against climate change for many species -- at least in the short term­ -- according to a study published in the journal Ecology Letters...

24.11.2017 | nachricht Read more

Scientists team up on study to save endangered African penguins

Findings provide key strategies for rehabilitation

With less than 25,000 breeding pairs in existence today, it is an uphill battle for the African Penguin, which calls South Africa home. The 60 percent drop in...

16.11.2017 | nachricht Read more
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Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Hamburg and Kiel researchers observe spontaneous occurrence of skyrmions in atomically thin cobalt films

Since their experimental discovery, magnetic skyrmions - tiny magnetic knots - have moved into the focus of research. Scientists from Hamburg and Kiel have now been able to show that individual magnetic skyrmions with a diameter of only a few nanometres can be stabilised in magnetic metal films even without an external magnetic field. They report on their discovery in the journal Nature Communications.

The existence of magnetic skyrmions as particle-like objects was predicted 30 years ago by theoretical physicists, but could only be proven experimentally in...

Im Focus: Physicists create world's smallest engine

Theoretical physicists at Trinity College Dublin are among an international collaboration that has built the world's smallest engine - which, as a single calcium ion, is approximately ten billion times smaller than a car engine.

Work performed by Professor John Goold's QuSys group in Trinity's School of Physics describes the science behind this tiny motor.

Im Focus: Quantum computers to become portable

Together with the University of Innsbruck, the ETH Zurich and Interactive Fully Electrical Vehicles SRL, Infineon Austria is researching specific questions on the commercial use of quantum computers. With new innovations in design and manufacturing, the partners from universities and industry want to develop affordable components for quantum computers.

Ion traps have proven to be a very successful technology for the control and manipulation of quantum particles. Today, they form the heart of the first...

Im Focus: Towards an 'orrery' for quantum gauge theory

Experimental progress towards engineering quantized gauge fields coupled to ultracold matter promises a versatile platform to tackle problems ranging from condensed-matter to high-energy physics

The interaction between fields and matter is a recurring theme throughout physics. Classical cases such as the trajectories of one celestial body moving in the...

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,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

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