Portal:Ecology

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Ecology
Unique plants in the Ruwenzori Mountains, SW Uganda, Bujuku Valley, at about 12,139 feet (3,700 metre) elevation)
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Ecology, also referred to as ecological science, is the scientific study of the distribution and abundance of living organisms and how the distribution and abundance are affected by interactions between the organisms and their environment. The environment of an organism includes both physical properties, which can be described as the sum of local abiotic factors such as solar insolation, climate and geology, as well as the other organisms that share its habitat. The term Ökologie was coined in 1866 by the German biologist Ernst Haeckel; the word is derived from the Greek οικος (oikos, "household") and λόγος (logos, "study"); therefore "ecology" means the "study of the household (of nature)".

Ecology is also a human science. There are many practical applications of ecology in conservation biology, wetland management, natural resource management (agriculture, forestry, fisheries), city planning (urban ecology), community health, economics, basic and applied science and human social interaction (human ecology)

(Pictured left: Unique plants in the Ruwenzori Mountains, SW Uganda, Bujuku Valley, at about 12,139 feet (3,700 metre) elevation)

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Part of the Bug River in Eastern Europe
Pictured left: Part of the Bug River in Eastern Europe

A lotic ecosystem is the ecosystem of a river, stream or spring. Included in the environment are the biotic interactions (amongst plants, animals and micro-organisms) as well as the abiotic interactions (physical and chemical).

Lotic refers to flowing water, from the Latin lotus, past participle of lavere, to wash. Lotic ecosystems can be contrasted with lentic ecosystems, which involve relatively still terrestrial waters such as lakes and ponds. Together, these two fields form the more general study area of freshwater or aquatic ecology.

Lotic waters can be diverse in their form, ranging from a spring that is only a few centimeters wide to a major river that is kilometers in width. Despite these differences, the following unifying characteristics make the ecology of running waters unique from that of other aquatic habitats.

  • Flow is unidirectional.
  • There is a state of continuous physical change.
  • There is a high degree of spatial and temporal heterogeneity at all scales (microhabitats).
  • Variability between lotic systems is quite high.
  • The biota is specialized to live with flow conditions.

Large rivers have comparatively more species than small streams. Many relate this pattern to the greater area and volume of larger systems, as well as an increase in habitat diversity. Some systems, however, show a poor fit between system size and species richness. In these cases, a combination of factors such as historical rates of speciation and extinction, type of substrate, microhabitat availability, water chemistry, temperature, and disturbance such as flooding seem to be important.

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Credit: Jens Petersen

Schooling bigeye trevally. In biology, any group of fish that stay together for social reasons are said to be shoaling and if the group is swimming in the same direction in a coordinated manner, they are said to be schooling.

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Edward Smith Deevey, Jr. (December 3, 1914 – November 29, 1988) born in Albany, New York, was a prominent American ecologist and paleolimnologist, and an early protégé of G. Evelyn Hutchinson at Yale University. He was a creative pioneer in several areas, including quantitative palynology, cycling of natural isotopes, biogeochemistry, population dynamics, systematics and ecology of freshwater zooplankton, and he promoted the use of life tables in ecology.
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Did you know...

BlueMarble monthlies animation.gif
...by astronomical convention, the four seasons are determined by the solstices—the point in the orbit of maximum axial tilt of the Earth toward or away from the Sun—and the equinoxes, when the direction of the tilt and the direction to the Sun are perpendicular?

(Pictured left: Animation of seasonal differences, particularly snow cover throughout the year)

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The two most abundant forms of power on earth are solar and wind, and they're getting cheaper and cheaper…
— Ed Begley, Jr.

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Le Naturaliste Canadienis a CanadianFrench-languagepeer-reviewedscientific journalpublished semiannually by the Société Léon-Provancher d'Histoire Naturelle du Canada. The journal publishes articles on all topics of natural scienceswith a specific focus on ecologyand conservation biologyin Quebec. The journal also acts as the official publication of the society. The journal is the oldest scientific publication in French in North America and one of the oldest scientific journals still in publication in Canada.
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