Ecology (from Greek: οἶκος, "house"; -λογία, "study of") is the scientific study of the relationships that living organisms have with each other and with their natural environment. Topics of interest to ecologists include the composition, distribution, amount (biomass), number, and changing states of organisms 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 the biodiversity within them. Biodiversity refers to the varieties of species in ecosystems, the genetic variations they contain, and the processes that are functionally enriched by the diversity of ecological interactions.
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. Modern ecology transformed into a more rigorous science in the late 19th century. 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 and adaptations
- Distribution and abundance of organisms
- The movement of materials and energy through living communities
- The successional development of ecosystems, and
- The abundance and distribution of biodiversity in the context of the environment.
Ecology is a human science as well. 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). Ecosystems maintain biophysical feedback mechanisms that modulate metabolic rates and evolutionary dynamics between living (biotic) and nonliving (abiotic) components of the planet. Ecosystems sustain life-supporting functions and produce natural capital through the regulation of continental climates, global biogeochemical cycles, water filtration, soils, food, fibres, medicines, erosion control, and many other natural features of scientific, historical, economic, or intrinsic value.
Other articles related to "ecology":
... See also History of ecology In the early 20th century, naturalists were faced with increasing pressure to add rigor and preferably experimentation to their methods, as the newly ... Ecology had emerged as a combination of biogeography with the biogeochemical cycle concept pioneered by chemists field biologists developed quantitative methods such ... Cowles and Frederic Clements, was important in early plant ecology ...
... himself as an anarchist, seeing parallels between anarchism and ecology ... His groundbreaking essay "Ecology and Revolutionary Thought" introduced ecology as a concept in radical politics ... throughout the United States, he helped popularize the concept of ecology to the counterculture ...
... Due to the harsh winters, the park has few reptiles and amphibians with only one species of toad, three species of frog, one salamander species and two species of snakes that have been identified ... At least 280 species of birds can be found in Banff including bald and golden eagles, red-tailed hawk, osprey, and merlin, all of which are predatory species ...
... A pioneer in the ecology movement, Bookchin was the founder of the social ecology movement within anarchist, libertarian socialist and ecological thought ... on politics, philosophy, history, and urban affairs as well as ecology ...
... The ecology of global carbon budgets gives one example of the linkage between biodiversity and biogeochemistry ... during the Earth's history, regulated to a large extent by the ecology of the land ...
Famous quotes containing the word ecology:
“... the fundamental principles of ecology govern our lives wherever we live, and ... we must wake up to this fact or be lost.”
—Karin Sheldon (b. c. 1945)