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Ecology

Ecology is derived from Greek word in which "ecos" means "home" and "logy" means "the study of". Ecology is the study of home. It is an interdisciplinary branch that deals with the study of biology and earth. The term ecology was coined by a German scientist Ernst Haeckel in the year 1866. It is related to biology, genetics and ethology and an understanding on the effects of biodiversity on the ecological functioning of an area.

Ecology explains about
  • life processes, 
  • interaction between organisms with the environment, 
  • the adaptations of these organisms, 
  • the movements of energy and materials through the biotic communities, 
  • the successive developments of ecosystems and 
  • also the abundance and distribution of organisms and biodiversity.

 

Definition

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Ecology is defined as the scientific study of organisms and their interactions with the environment.

  • These interactions are such in which the organisms have with each other and their biotic environment. 
  • It also includes study of diversity, distribution, biomass population of organisms and also the competitions within them and among the ecosystems. 
  • Ecology is the study of environmental systems and it is sometimes known as economy of nature. 

Ecosystem is also defined as the structural and functional unit of biosphere or a part of nature which consists of bitoic and abiotic communities, both interacting and exchanging materials between them. 

Biodiversity

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Biodiversity is biological diversity which describes the diversity of life which comprises of every level of biological organization from genes to ecosystems. Biodiversity deals with the variety of life and the processes of life. This includes all the living entities, their genetic differences, their habitat and  communities and the ecosystem in which they are present and also the evolutionary processes that keep the system functioning, changing and adapting. 

  • There are many ways to represent the term biodiversity like index, measure, characteristics that represent the complex organization of biodiversity. 
  • An important role of biodiversity is in ecosystem services which maintain and improve quality of human life. 
  • For the same, biodiversity is conserved in many ways. 
  • Preventing extinction of species is one way to preserve biodiversity; it can be done by using and implementing methods that preserve genetic diversity, habitat of the organisms and the ability of migration of species. 
  • Conservation of biodiversity, its precedence and governance systems need different methods and concepts to refer the full ecosystem. 

Habitat

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  • Habitat of a certain species depicts the environment in which that species is said to occur and as a result the type of community it forms. 
  • Habitats are defined as a part in the environment of multiple dimensions that represent both the biotic and abiotic components of the environment or any component that is related to the use of the location of that organism.
  • Physical features like soil, temperature, moisture and light availability and living factors like food and predators make up a habitat. 

Niche

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  • Niche is defined as the set of living and non-living factors in which a particular species is able of live and maintain a stable population. 
  • Ecological niche is a basic concept in the ecology of living organisms, the ecological niche of these organism are sub-divided as fundamental niche and realized niche. 
  • Fundamental niche is the environmental conditions in which the species can prevail. The realized niche is a group of environmental and ecological conditions in which the species can prevail. 
  • Ecological niche is a term with in actual describes a relative position of a species or population in an ecosystem. 
  • It also includes the response of the population or species to the available resources and enemies and the effect of these species on those factors. 
  • The non-living, physical factor is also a part of a niche as it influences the effect of the population and how the effects by resources and its enemies.

Biome

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Biomes are defined as areas which are similar climatically and geographically on Earth; they are communities of plants, animals and soil flora and fauna, which are often referred to as ecosystems.

  • They are larger units of regions which are categorized according to the structure and composition of vegetation. 
  • The biotic and abiotic factors are the same in some parts of the earth and are spread over a large area composing a typical ecosystem in an area. Such ecosystems are known as biomes. 
  • Many factors like structures of plant, types of leafs, spacing of plants and climate define a biome. They are not defined by factors like genetic, taxonomic similarities like in ecozones.  
Forest Biome

Biosphere

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Biosphere is the sum of all ecosystems. Biosphere is the largest scale of ecological organization. 

  • Biosphere includes the spheres, lithosphere, hydrosphere and the atmosphere. 
  • It includes all living organisms and also the dead organic matter which is produced by the living organisms. 
  • Biosphere interacts between and the exchange of matter and energy with other spheres. 
  • Biosphere from an ecological point of view comprises the total biodiversity on earth and performs all forms of ecological functions like photosynthesis, respiration, nitrogen fixation, denitrification and decomposition.  

Biosphere Illustration

Population Ecology

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  • Population ecology deals with the dynamics of populations of species and the interaction of these species with the environment.
  • It also deals with the changes over time and space of the species living together in groups. 
  • Population consists of the same species that live, interact and migrate through the same habitat and niche. 
  • Population ecology plays an important role in conservation biology especially in the development of PVA.
  • It also helps in predicting long-term probability of species present in a given habitat. 

Ecosystem Ecology

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Ecosystem ecology is the study which integrates the concepts of biotic and abiotic components of ecosystem and their interaction within an ecosystem framework.

  • Ecosystem ecology deals with the physical and biological factors and the interaction of the ecosystem characteristics with each other. 
  • In an ecosystem, organism are linked to the abiotic and biotic components of their environment to which they are adapted. 
  • Ecosystems are complex systems, are adaptive and have interactions of life processes. Ecosystem are broadly classified as terrestrial, freshwater, marine, or atmospheric. 

Food Web

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Food web is an ecological network, which depicts the connections of feeding in a community.

  • Solar energy is used by plants to synthesize sugars during the process of photosynthesis. 
  • The plants are consumed by herbivorous animals, and the energy id transferred through a chain of organisms. 
  • Linear food pathways are known as food chains. 
  • Interconnected food chains in a community of the ecosystem creates a food web. 
  • Life forms are broadly classified based on their feeding practices into trophic levels as autotroph and heterotrophs. 
  • Food webs consist of subgroups in a community which are linked by strong and weak interactions between the subgroups. Interactions like this increase the stability of the food webs. 

Illustration of Terrestrial and Aquatic Food Web

Trophic Level

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Trophic level of an organism is the position of that organism in a food chain. A food chain represent the organism that prey on others organisms which in turn are preyed upon by organisms of higher trophic level. Biodiversity in an ecosystem can be organized into trophic pyramids. In a trophic pyramid the vertical dimension represents feeding relations, which are consumed from the base of the food chain up to the top predators and the horizontal dimension represents the abundance at each level. Species of an ecosystem community are categorized as autotrophs, heterotrophs and detritivores. 

Trophic Level
  • Autotrophs are organisms that produce their own food by the process of photosynthesis.
  • Heteritrophs are consumers which feed on the the producers for nourishment. 
  • Detritivores or decomposers are organisms that feed on the dead matter and convert the matter in the basic organic compounds.

Human Ecology

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Human ecology is an interdisciplinary branch which deals with the investigation or study of ecology of our species. It deals with the study of the relationship of between humans and their natural, built and social environments. It deals with the study of relationship between humans and the natural environments and the built environment. 
More topics in Ecology
Abiotic Factors Biomes
Ecosystem
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