Ecology is an interesting field that looks at the dynamics of the environment. So I have decided to do a series on ecology. After completing the ecology series; I will start a chemistry series. In this post of the ecology series we will be looking at basic concepts in ecology and other categories of ecology.
Please note that Ecosystem Ecology will be discussed in another post.
Other Categories of Ecology
- Landscape Ecology
- Industrial Ecology
- Human Ecology
- Political Ecology
- Population Ecology
Landscape ecology is widely consider a sub-discipline of ecology. The term was coined by Carl Troll in 1939. It’s important to note that Carl Troll was a German scientist. Landscape ecology focuses on the spatial patterns of ecological processes or/ it’s the study of the relationship between spatial patterns and ecological processes. Landscape ecology also utilize data collected to conduct scale mapping of areas. It’s important to point out that technology is reshaping the field of landscape ecology, like many other fields. Technology such as satellite imagery and computer mapping are enabling ecologist to collect more data relating to how species use landscapes.
Industrial ecology: It was surprising seeing the word industrial and ecology together. Whenever people mention industry or industrial follow by ecology, you are expecting something bad. Well it’s the opposite this time around.
Industrial ecology is referred to as the science of sustainability. The word sustainability means, “The quality of not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources, and thereby supporting long-term ecological balance.” Industrial ecology looks at how human industrial activities impact the biosphere (the largest ecosystem; because it contains all ecosystems) and also how to design systems that produce minimal waste. So industrial ecology is about minimizing the level of waste produce by industrial processes through such action as re-use and recycling.
Human ecology deals with how humans interact with their environment. The field also looks at how humans interact with their social and built environment. So basically human ecology is similar to the study of plants and animals.
Political Ecology is the study of the relationship between economic, political, social and environmental issues. It examines the influence and power of various stakeholders over the environment. One can go as far as to say it deals with ecological justice (fair treatment of the environment).
Population Ecology is the study of individuals of the same species that live and interact within a specific area. Population ecology looks at how the population size of species changes over time. It also examine population movement such as through migration. You will also come across Malthusian growth model in ecology, which is a major law of ecology. Malthusian growth model states: a population will growth or decline exponentially as long as the environment experience by all individual of the species remain constant. Exponentially means that the factors will increase or decrease proportionally to each other.
Basic Concepts in Ecology
Habitat: Habitat is the term that refers to the home of organisms or it is where organisms live. The term is used to refer to areas inhabited by animals, plants or other types of organisms.
Niche: Niche is seen as the roles organisms play in their environment or the function of organisms within their ecosystem.
Flora: It’s all plant life occurring in a specific area and also at a certain time.
Fauna: It’s all animal life occurring in a specific area and also at a particular time.
Population: It’s all individuals of a particular species in a specific area (habitat). The population of organisms is studied through population ecology in order to explain, understand and predict species distribution.
Community: It’s a group of population in a specific area. You will find clearly defined path of energy flow in a community and also nutrient cycling.
Environment: Environment is your surrounding; it can either be natural or artificial. Environment can also be defined as, “all the external factors influencing the life and activities of people, plants, and animals.” There is two main component to an organism’s environment; Abiotic and Biotic.
- Abiotic is the non-living component of the environment such as water, rocks, air and temperature.
- Biotic is the living component of the environment such as plants, animals, fungi and bacteria. It’s important to note that some microorganisms are considered to be non-living, because they are not actually living cells (e.g. Viruses).