Portal:Ecology

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Ecology
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Ecology (from Greek: οἶκος, "house", or "environment"; -λογία, "study of") is a branch of biology concerning interactions among organisms and their biophysical environment, which includes both biotic and abiotic components. Topics of interest include the biodiversity, distribution, biomass, and populations of organisms, as well as cooperation and competition within and between species. 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, pedogenesis, nutrient cycling, and niche construction, regulate the flux of energy and matter through an environment. These processes are sustained by organisms with specific life history traits.

Ecology is not synonymous with environmentalism, natural history, or environmental science. It overlaps with the closely related sciences of evolutionary biology, genetics, and ethology. An important focus for ecologists is to improve the understanding of how biodiversity affects ecological function. Ecologists seek to explain:

  • Life processes, interactions, and adaptations
  • The movement of materials and energy through living communities
  • The successional development of ecosystems
  • The abundance and distribution of organisms and biodiversity in the context of the environment.

Ecology 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). It is not treated as separate from humans. Organisms (including humans) and resources compose ecosystems which, in turn, maintain biophysical feedback mechanisms that moderate processes acting on living (biotic) and non-living (abiotic) components of the planet. Ecosystems sustain life-supporting functions and produce natural capital 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.

The word "ecology" ("Ökologie") was coined in 1866 by the German scientist Ernst Haeckel. Ecological thought is derivative of established currents in philosophy, particularly from ethics and politics. Ancient Greek philosophers such as Hippocrates and Aristotle laid the foundations of ecology in their studies on natural history. Modern ecology became a much more rigorous science in the late 19th century. Evolutionary concepts relating to adaptation and natural selection became the cornerstones of modern ecological theory. Read more...

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Forest ecology is the scientific study of the interrelated patterns, processes, flora, fauna and ecosystems in forests. The management of forests is known as forestry, silviculture, and forest management. A forest ecosystem is a natural woodland unit consisting of all plants, animals and micro-organisms (Biotic components) in that area functioning together with all of the non-living physical (abiotic) factors of the environment. The forest ecosystem is very important. Read more...
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Credit: Mnolf

A Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) closing after receiving a stimulus. Venus Flytraps are carnivorous plants that catch and digest animal prey—mostly insects and arachnids.

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Plate from Bates 1861, illustrating Batesian mimicry between Dismorphia species (top row and third row) and various Ithomiini (Nymphalidae) (second and bottom rows). A non-Batesian species, Pseudopieris nehemia, is in the centre.

Batesian mimicry is a form of mimicry where a harmless species has evolved to imitate the warning signals of a harmful species directed at a predator of them both. It is named after the English naturalist Henry Walter Bates, after his work on butterflies in the rainforests of Brazil.

Batesian mimicry is the most commonly known and widely studied of mimicry complexes, such that the word mimicry is often treated as synonymous with Batesian mimicry. There are many other forms however, some very similar in principle, others far separated. It is often contrasted with Müllerian mimicry, a form of mutually beneficial convergence between two or more harmful species. However, because the mimic may have a degree of protection itself, the distinction is not absolute. It can also be contrasted with functionally different forms of mimicry. Perhaps the sharpest contrast here is with aggressive mimicry, where a predator or parasite mimics a harmless species, avoiding detection and improving its foraging success. Read more...

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Eugene Pleasants Odum (September 17, 1913 – August 10, 2002) was an American biologist at the University of Georgia known for his pioneering work on ecosystem ecology. He and his brother Howard T. Odum wrote the popular ecology textbook, Fundamentals of Ecology (1953). The Odum School of Ecology is named in his honor. Read more...

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...paleoecology uses data from fossils and subfossils to reconstruct the ecosystems of the past? It involves the study of fossil organisms and their associated remains, including their life cycle, living interactions, natural environment, and manner of death and burial to reconstruct the paleoevironment.
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The key.. will be a new public awareness of how serious is the threat to the global environment. Those who have a vested interest in the status quo will probably continue to be able to stifle any meaningful change until enough citizens.. are willing to speak out.
— Al Gore

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Boreas is a peer-reviewed academic journal that has been published since 1972. The journal covers all branches of quaternary research, including biological and non-biological aspects of the quaternary environment in both glaciated and non-glaciated areas.

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