About ecology

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overview

… source 01 [Wikipedia]

… ecology from greek: οἶκος, "house"; -λογία, "study of"…

… ecology is the scientific study of interactions among organisms and their environment …

… such as the interactions organisms have with each other and with their abiotic environment …

… topics of interest to ecologists include the diversity, distribution, amount (biomass), number (population) of organisms, as well as competition between them within and among ecosystems …

… ecosystems are composed of dynamically interacting parts including organisms, the communities they make up, and the non-living components of their environment …

… ecosystem processes, such as primary production, pedogenesis, nutrient cycling, and various niche construction activities, regulate the flux of energy and matter through an environment …

… these processes are sustained by organisms with specific life history traits, and the variety of organisms is called biodiversity …

… biodiversity, which refers to the varieties of species, genes, and ecosystems, enhances certain ecosystem services …

… ecology is an interdisciplinary field that includes biology and earth science…

… the word "ecology" ("ökologie") was coined in 1866 by the german scientist ernst haeckel (1834–1919) …

… ancient greek philosophers such as hippocrates and aristotle laid the foundations of ecology in their studies on natural history …

… evolutionary concepts on adaptation and natural selection became cornerstones of modern ecological theory …

… ecology is not synonymous with environment, environmentalism, natural history, or environmental science …

… it is closely related to evolutionary biology, genetics, and ethology …

… an understanding of how biodiversity affects ecological function is an important focus area in ecological studies …

… ecologists seek to explain:

  • life processes, interactions and adaptations
  • the movement of materials and energy through living communities
  • the successional development of ecosystems, and
  • the abundance and distribution of organisms and biodiversity in the context of the environment …

… there are many practical applications of ecology in conservation biology, wetland management, natural resource management (agroecology, agriculture, forestry, agroforestry, fisheries), city planning (urban ecology), community health, economics, basic and applied science, and human social interaction (human ecology) …

… organisms and resources compose ecosystems which, in turn, maintain biophysical feedback mechanisms that moderate processes acting on living (biotic) and nonliving (abiotic) components of the planet …

… ecosystems sustain life-supporting functions and produce natural capital like biomass production (food, fuel, fiber and medicine), the regulation of climate, global biogeochemical cycles, water filtration, soil formation, erosion control, flood protection and many other natural features of scientific, historical, economic, or intrinsic value …

relation to the environment

… the environment of ecosystems includes both physical parameters and biotic attributes …

… it is dynamically interlinked, and contains resources for organisms at any time throughout their life cycle …

… like "ecology," the term "environment" has different conceptual meanings and overlaps with the concept of "nature" …

… environment includes the physical world, the social world of human relations and the built world of human creation …

… the physical environment is external to the level of biological organization under investigation, including abiotic factors such as temperature, radiation, light, chemistry, climate and geolog …

… the biotic environment includes genes, cells, organisms, members of the same species (conspecifics) and other species that share a habitat …

… the distinction between external and internal environments, however, is an abstraction parsing life and environment into units or facts that are inseparable in reality …

… there is an interpenetration of cause and effect between the environment and life …

… the laws of thermodynamics, for example, apply to ecology by means of its physical state …

… with an understanding of metabolic and thermodynamic principles, a complete accounting of energy and material flow can be traced through an ecosystem …

… in this way, the environmental and ecological relations are studied through reference to conceptually manageable and isolated material parts …

… after the effective environmental components are understood through reference to their causes, however, they conceptually link back together as an integrated whole, or holocoenotic system as it was once called …

… this is known as the dialectical approach to ecology …

… the dialectical approach examines the parts, but integrates the organism and the environment into a dynamic whole (or umwelt) …

… change in one ecological or environmental factor can concurrently affect the dynamic state of an entire ecosystem …

disturbance and resilience

… ecosystems are regularly confronted with natural environmental variations and disturbances over time and geographic space …

… a disturbance is any process that removes biomass from a community, such as a fire, flood, drought, or predation …

… disturbances occur over vastly different ranges in terms of magnitudes as well as distances and time periods …

… and are both the cause and product of natural fluctuations in death rates, species assemblages, and biomass densities within an ecological community …

… these disturbances create places of renewal where new directions emerge from the patchwork of natural experimentation and opportunity …

… ecological resilience is a cornerstone theory in ecosystem management …

… biodiversity fuels the resilience of ecosystems acting as a kind of regenerative insurance …

human ecology

… ecology is as much a biological science as it is a human science …

… human ecology is an interdisciplinary investigation into the ecology of our species …

… "human ecology may be defined:

  • (1) from a bio-ecological standpoint as the study of man as the ecological dominant in plant and animal communities and systems;
  • (2) from a bio-ecological standpoint as simply another animal affecting and being affected by his physical environment; and
  • (3) as a human being, somehow different from animal life in general, interacting with physical and modified environments in a distinctive and creative way …

… a truly interdisciplinary human ecology will most likely address itself to all three …

.. the ecological complexities human beings are facing through the technological transformation of the planetary biome has brought on the anthropocene …

… the unique set of circumstances has generated the need for a new unifying science called coupled human and natural systems that builds upon, but moves beyond the field of human ecology …

… ecosystems tie into human societies through the critical and all encompassing life-supporting functions they sustain …

… in recognition of these functions and the incapability of traditional economic valuation methods to see the value in ecosystems, there has been a surge of interest in social-natural capital, which provides the means to put a value on the stock and use of information and materials stemming from ecosystem goods and services …

… ecosystems produce, regulate, maintain, and supply services of critical necessity and beneficial to human health (cognitive and physiological), economies, and they even provide an information or reference function as a living library giving opportunities for science and cognitive development in children engaged in the complexity of the natural world …

… ecosystems relate importantly to human ecology as they are the ultimate base foundation of global economics as every commodity and the capacity for exchange ultimately stems from the ecosystems on earth …

social ecology

… social ecological behaviours are notable in the social insects, slime moulds, social spiders, human society, and naked mole rats where eusocialism has evolved …

… social behaviours include reciprocally beneficial behaviours among kin and nest mates and evolve from kin and group selection …

… kin selection explains altruism through genetic relationships …

… whereby an altruistic behaviour leading to death is rewarded by the survival of genetic copies distributed among surviving relatives …

… the social insects, including ants, bees and wasps are most famously studied for this type of relationship because the male drones are clones that share the same genetic make-up as every other male in the colony …

… in contrast, group selectionists find examples of altruism among non-genetic relatives and explain this through selection acting on the group …

… whereby it becomes selectively advantageous for groups if their members express altruistic behaviours to one another …

… groups with predominantly altruistic members beat groups with predominantly selfish members …

relation to evolution

… ecology and evolution are considered sister disciplines of the life sciences …

… natural selection, life history, development, adaptation, populations, and inheritance are examples of concepts that thread equally into ecological and evolutionary theory …

… morphological, behavioural and genetic traits, for example, can be mapped onto evolutionary trees to study the historical development of a species in relation to their functions and roles in different ecological circumstances …

… in this framework, the analytical tools of ecologists and evolutionists overlap as they organize, classify and investigate life through common systematic principals, such as phylogenetics or the linnaean system of taxonomy …

… there is no sharp boundary separating ecology from evolution and they differ more in their areas of applied focus …

… both disciplines discover and explain emergent and unique properties and processes operating across different spatial or temporal scales of organization …

… while the boundary between ecology and evolution is not always clear, ecologists study the abiotic and biotic factors that influence evolutionary processes …

… and evolution can be rapid, occurring on ecological timescales as short as one generation …

community ecology

… community ecology examines how interactions among species and their environment affect the abundance, distribution and diversity of species within communities, johnson & stinchcomb (2007) …

… community ecology is the study of the interactions among a collections of species that inhabit the same geographic area …

… research in community ecology might measure primary production in a wetland in relation to decomposition and consumption rates …

… this requires an understanding of the community connections between plants (i.e., primary producers) and the decomposers (e.g., fungi and bacteria) …

… or the analysis of predator-prey dynamics affecting amphibian biomass …

… food webs and trophic levels are two widely employed conceptual models used to explain the linkages among species …

… interspecific interactions such as predation are a key aspect of community ecology …

ecosystem ecology

… ecosystems, as we may call them, are of the most various kinds and sizes …

… they form one category of the multitudinous physical systems of the universe, which range from the universe as a whole down to the atom, tansley (1935) …

… ecosystems are habitats within biomes that form an integrated whole and a dynamically responsive system having both physical and biological complexes …

… the underlying concept can be traced back to 1864 in the published work of george perkins marsh ("man and nature") …

… within an ecosystem, organisms are linked to the physical and biological components of their environment to which they are adapted …

… ecosystems are complex adaptive systems where the interaction of life processes form self-organizing patterns across different scales of time and space …

… ecosystems are broadly categorized as terrestrial, freshwater, atmospheric, or marine …

… differences stem from the nature of the unique physical environments that shapes the biodiversity within each …

… a more recent addition to ecosystem ecology are technoecosystems, which are affected by or primarily the result of human activity …