What is Ecology: Definition and 20 Discussions

Ecology (from Greek: οἶκος, "house" and -λογία, "study of") is the study of the relationships between living organisms, including humans, and their physical environment [1], [2]. Ecology considers organisms at the individual, population, community, ecosystems, and biosphere level. Ecology overlaps with the closely related sciences of biogeography, evolutionary biology, genetics, ethology and natural history. Ecology is a branch of knowledge, and it is not synonymous with environmentalism.
Among other things, ecology is the study of:

Life processes, interactions, and adaptations
The movement of materials and energy through living communities
The successional development of ecosystems
Cooperation, competition and predation within and between species.
The abundance, biomass, and distribution of organisms in the context of the environment.
Patterns of biodiversity and its effect on ecosystem processesEcology has practical applications 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).
The word "ecology" ("Ökologie") was coined in 1866 by the German scientist Ernst Haeckel, and it became a rigorous science in the late 19th century. Evolutionary concepts relating to adaptation and natural selection are cornerstones of modern ecological theory.
Ecosystems are dynamically interacting systems of organisms, the communities they make up, and the non-living components of their environment. Ecosystem processes, such as primary production, nutrient cycling, and niche construction, regulate the flux of energy and matter through an environment. Ecosystems have biophysical feedback mechanisms that moderate processes acting on living (biotic) and non-living (abiotic) components of the planet. Ecosystems sustain life-supporting functions and provide ecosystem services 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.

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  1. ORF

    Ecology -- Which microorganisms are the main decomposers in the sea?

    Hi, On land, the nutrient cycle is closed by decomposer microorganisms (fungi, bacteria). Which organisms have the equivalent role in the sea? Thank you for your time. Cheers, ORF
  2. J

    Writing: Input Wanted What are the Consequences of a Longer PETM?

    This is for an alternate Earth that I've been building and rebuilding for years. Sometime between the Paleocene and Eocene epochs, there was a mysterious, sudden, dramatic rise in global temperature. This moment in time was known as the "Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum", shortened into...
  3. Andy Kleinhesselink

    Can Ecology Achieve the Mathematical and Theoretical Rigor of Physics?

    Hi I'm Andy, I'm a post-doctoral scholar at UCLA studying Ecology. I'm hoping that ecology can achieve some of the mathematical and theoretical rigor of physics one day.
  4. JonMoulton

    New Life History Simulation Modeling Platform

    mod: approved HexSim Life History Simulation Modeling Platform - free to download. Landscape ecology, anyone? After >10 years of development, the HexSim life history simulator is ready for use by students and researchers.HexSim is a free, versatile, multi-species, life history simulator ideal...
  5. T

    Decomposer, Scavenger and Detrivore

    How are they different? Decomposers - They convert complex molecules into simpler ones. Digestion (by heterotrophs) at any level does it, so why decomposers, another term then? Detrivores - They consume (engulf) dead1 and decaying (means already broken down? well what is that then?2) matter...
  6. DaveC426913

    Cave ecology isolated for over 5 mllion years

    Surely this is a huge, huge find, is it not?? A living ecology, isolated for over 5 million years? http://ecowatch.com/2016/05/24/movile-cave-romania/ Scientists Uncover Array of Strange Animals in Cave That Has Been Sealed Off for 5.5 Million Years
  7. D

    Behavioral ecology (birds cooperating, different species)

    Some small birds spiecies cooperate during the winter when searching for food. What are the pros and cons with this behavior? My solution: Cons: They have to share the food, it can be some rivalry => leads to fights. Pros: Easier to find food, when more searching, in the winter it might be...
  8. B

    What is this figure meaning? (Ecology -- Punctuated Equilibrium)

    Homework Statement As I reading this article I conflict with a problem, I never find the meaning of Figure 3(b). the paragraph below the figure illustrated it but I couldn't find what it want to say. every help will be a appreciated. Homework EquationsThe Attempt at a Solution
  9. B

    Uncovering the Math Behind Jungle Ecology in Costa Rica

    Hi, I'm seeking information on a branch of mathematics. A few years back one of the education channels had a documentary in which scientists/mathematicians in Costa Rica were able to predetermine how a jungle was laid out by analyzing how the branches of an individual tree were laid out. Anyone...
  10. A

    Life tables in population ecology

    Homework Statement http://imgur.com/OInF6O2 The blue table shows the mortality and offspring production rates per year per age class by individuals of an unnamed species. The orange tables shows the starting population at time t, I have to find the number of individuals at T+1 (next year)...
  11. D

    Prognosis of ecology as a hard science?

    Does anyone here consider ecology a hard science?
  12. D

    Does anyone consider ecology a hard science?

    I want to work in ecology and I think it has potential to be a harder science. I like hard sciences and I think sometimes ecology has the image of being a soft science. Does anyone know of the progress being made in ecology? Give me some advice perhaps? Thanks.
  13. fluidistic

    [Ecology] I think I'm nuts about ecology

    As an aspirant scientist, physicist to be more precise, I believe it would be "normal" to be an ecologist. In fact I've always taken care of the Earth in my life since I've been taught to be respectful toward it. This means don't throw objects in nature, don't kill amphibians, don't burn...
  14. R

    Why would I need so much knowledge for a general ecology course?

    So I would like to do an ecology course somewhen during my undergrad, but the requisites for a General Ecology are just too big: -1 year in Zoology and Botany -1 year in General Biology (in order to get the Zoology and Botany) I have studied myself the Smith ecology book and don't find...
  15. Y

    Population Ecology Homework: Solving for N After Year One

    Homework Statement A flock of 10 Kolea birds going back to its mating grounds in Alaska from Hawaii gets blown off course and lands on a small island in the Aleutian (with no other Kolea birds) that is 25 km2 and has tundra habitat. The birds are known to have an intrinsic growth rate of 1.8...
  16. B

    Effect of Chemical spillage on ecology

    I am preparing my examination on next week. I face a challenge question on the textbook but it does not provide any answers. Can someone help me? Two questions distribute 10 marks for each. How can I answer point by point to get all the marks in this questions. Many thanks! Consider this...
  17. D

    Is ecology inherently mathematical?

    Hello I'm interested in pursuing ecological studies. I'm trying to find out as much as I can about the nature of ecological science. I have seen some books in my school library about mathematical ecology and my ecology professor has said that ecology is pretty quantitative. I have hopes that...
  18. D

    Mathematics for Theoretical Ecology?

    Hi, I just found this great forum and I am hoping to get some advice. I am starting an ecology degree with the hope of, one day, getting into grad school. I don't know yet what type of research I would like to do but I want to keep the door to theoretical work open. As my math background is...
  19. W

    Information theory question related to ecology

    Hi, I have a square grid that represents a landscape, each grid cell is forested or non-forested. I am calculating 2 different forest fragmentation metrics. Because there is a finite number of combinations of forest and nonforest cells, there is a finite number of possible values for each...
  20. C

    Pop. Ecology r and K strategists

    Pop. Ecology r and K strategists please help Does anyone know what the "K" of k-strategist stands for? I know the "r" in r-strategist stands for rapid but cannot find what the k stands for. Thanks!