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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ErnstHaeckel.jpg
Ernst Heinrich Philipp August Haeckel (February 16, 1834 – August 9, 1919), also written von Haeckel, was an eminent German biologist and philosopher. He promoted Charles Darwin's work in Germany and developed the theory that the organism's biological development, or ontogeny, parallels its species' evolutionary development, or phylogeny.

The published artwork of Haeckel includes over 100 detailed, multi-color illustrations of animals and sea creatures (see: Kunstformen der Natur, "Art Forms of Nature"). As a philosopher, Ernst Haeckel wrote Die Welträtsel (1895–1899, in English, The Riddle of the Universe, 1901), the genesis for the term "world riddle" (Welträtsel); and Freedom in Science and Teaching to support the teaching of evolution.


Did you know...

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...in the United States, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems account for 30% (4.65 EJ) of the energy used in commercial buildings and nearly 50% (10.1 EJ) of the energy used in residential buildings? Solar-powered heating, cooling and ventilation technologies can be used to offset a portion of this energy.

(Pictured left: Part of the Nellis Solar Power Plant, a 14 megawatt power plant installed in 2007, in Nevada)

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The great ecosystems are like complex tapestries—a million complicated threads, interwoven, make up the whole picture. Nature can cope with small rents in the fabric; it can even, after a time, cope with major disasters like floods, fires, and earthquakes. What nature cannot cope with is the steady undermining of its fabric by the activities of man.
— Gerald Durrell

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Conservation Biologyis a peer-reviewedacademic journalof the Society for Conservation Biology, published by Wiley-Blackwell. Conservation Biologypublishes articles covering the science and practice of conserving Earth's biological diversity. Coverage includes issues concerning any of the Earth's ecosystemsor regions, and that apply different approaches to solving problems in this area.
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