What is Ecology? What are the branches of ecology?
What is Ecology?
Ecology is the branch of biology devoted to the study of living things and their relationship to the environment in which they live. Besides, ecology studies the abundance and distribution of living things that exist in a particular area or region.
This type of interaction can be explored using people’s scales or organizational levels:
- Individual study. Study of each organism with the environment that surrounds it.
- Study of populations. Study of the interrelation of living beings belonging to the same species.
- Study of communities. Study of the relationship that occurs between different populations that inhabit the same area.
- Ecosystem study. Study of communities and their interaction with the environment that surrounds them.
- Study of the biosphere. Study of all living things in general.
History of ecology
Ecology developed from the studies of some ancient Greek thinkers such as Aristotle and Theophrastus (viewed by some as the father of botany). With the fall of the Greco-Roman civilization, the field of natural sciences suffered a certain stagnation. Studies in this area did not regain relevance until the 18th and 19th centuries when the importance of studying living things and the interactions between them and the environment they inhabit was discovered. In 1789 Gilbert White wrote The Natural History of Selborne, a book for which the naturalist is considered the first ecologist in England.
Although the history of this science begins in ancient Greece, the term “ecology” was formally created in 1869 by the German natural scientist Ernst Haeckel, who defined it as “that science that studies the relationships between living beings and their environment”. The term ecology comes from the Greek words Oikos (“home”) and Logos (“study”).
Some of the scientists and naturalists who marked the path for the development of this branch of biology with their contributions were:
Carles Linnaeus (also called Carl von Linné). Swedish scientist is known as the father of taxonomy, a discipline by which all known living things could be classified.
Alexander Freiherr von Humboldt. German naturalist who in his explorations of the American continent collected and related information on the climate, natural resources, flora, and fauna.
Karl Möbius. German zoologist who conducted pioneering research in marine biology, and described the interactions between organisms in aquatic environments.
Charles Darwin. English naturalist who raised the theory of evolution by natural selection. This theory formed the foundations of modern ecology since it proposes the mechanisms that explain the ability to live beings to adapt to different environments.
What are the branches of ecology?
Ecology features a large number of branches. Among the most important are:
- Microbial ecology. It focuses on the study of microorganisms in their habitat. This branch has allowed the discovery of some fundamental facts such as, for example, that the activity of microorganisms in the terrestrial ecosystem is the cause of the soil being fertile.
- Landscape ecology. It involves the interrelation of two great sciences: geography and biology. The study is based on the observation of the landscape naturally and transformations that the action of the human being produces in them.
- Ecology of recreation. It analyzes the relationship between man and the environment, always taking the human being in a context of recreation. In this way, specific sites for recreation such as trails, corridors, games, and dispersal areas are put as an object of study.
- Ecology of populations. It studies the set of living beings of the same species that inhabit the same space at the same time. Demography also comes into play here, a science that is responsible for the study of populations of the same species, which analyzes and takes into account factors such as the number of members, sex and age distribution, birth and mortality rates, among other indicators. of population.
- Evolutionary ecology. It is based on the study of the same population over time, so it is essential to evaluate the different transformations and the changes that occur in it as a result of different influencing factors.
- Social ecology. It involves questions of the order of philosophy since it studies the behavior of living beings as part of a group in a given area.
- Human ecology. It studies the human being and the relationship with its natural and social environment.
- Cultural ecology. Study the relationships between a society and its environment.
- Mathematical ecology. Study organisms and their relationship with their environment by applying mathematical theorems and formulas.
- Urban ecology. Study the interactions between the inhabitants of a city and the environment that surrounds it.
- Dendroecology. Study tree growth rings and uses the information stored in them to assess the impact of different environmental conditions on tree growth.
Importance of ecology
- The greatest achievement of the study of ecology is that it allows us to know the fundamental connections that exist between organisms and the abiotic factors that make up the environment.
- Over time, it was discovered that preserving these connections is critical to maintaining balance in ecosystems. Knowing these relationships allows caring for the environment, consciously managing natural resources, and taking measures to anticipate the environmental impact.
- Ecology is a very complete and interdisciplinary branch of biology as it uses tools from many sciences to make known the characteristics of the environment.
- In recent decades, ecology has gained relevance due to the remarkable consequences of the impact of human activities on the environment.
Ecology and environmentalism
Ecology is studied by ecologists, who are scientists who study processes and relationships in the environment. That is why an ecologist is different from an ecologist.
From the second half of the 20th century, due to the impact of man’s action in nature, groups and people called ecologists have appeared. They are part of social and civil movements and organizations whose purpose is the preservation of the environment and sustainable development.
Environmentalism transmits its messages through awareness campaigns and mobilizations to the population with the objective, also, that these messages reach the political and economic spheres. They seek to promote the balance of the human being with the ecosystem that surrounds it since man is part of it and not the owner of it.
Environmentalism fights against entrenched practices, economic activities, and customs that put biodiversity at risk, for example, nuclear tests, deforestation, indiscriminate fishing, indiscriminate use of plastics, misuse of natural resources.
What is Ecology? What are the branches of ecology? 12P