Ecology is the branch of science which deals with the study of the relationship or interaction between different living organisms and their environment. Here all the living components are called living biotic factors and all non-living components are called abiotic factors.
The term ecology was first defined or given by Ernst Haeckel in 1866 who was a German Biologist.
Example of relationship between biotic and abiotic factors
> Dependence of plants upon soil, sunlight, water and carbon dioxide for their survival. Here plants are the biotic factor and soil, sunlight, water and carbon dioxide are abiotic factors.
> Dependence of animals upon soil, water, sunlight, oxygen and food. Here soil, water, sunlight and air are abiotic factors and animals and food (which we obtain from different plant products and other animals) are biotic factors.
Examples of abiotic factors are:
Soil, temperature, sunlight, rock, water and air.
Examples of biotic factors are:
Plants, animals and microorganisms.
Levels of ecology
The study of ecology is usually done at five different levels, these are:
At organism level of ecology, ecologists usually study adaptation in different organisms and the development of many beneficial features in organisms by natural selection that allows them to survive in specific habitats and resist harsh environmental hinderance. These adaptations in organisms can either be morphological, physiological, or behavioral.
A population is a group of many organisms of the same species that live in the same area at the same time. At this level of ecology, ecologists usually study the size, density, and structure of different populations and observe how they change over time.
A biological community is a group of many populations of different species that live in a specific area. At this level of ecology, ecologists usually focus on interactions between different populations and observe how these interactions shape the community.
An ecosystem is a group of many communities and different abiotic factors which influence that community. At this level of ecology, ecologists usually focus on flow of energy and recycling of different nutrients.
The biosphere is usually the whole planet earth which has many ecosystems and viewed as an ecological system. At this level of ecology, ecologists usually focus on the study of different global patterns, such as: climate, species distribution and interactions among ecosystems, and different other phenomena that affect the entire planet earth.
Importance of Ecology
The importance of Ecology or more specifically the study of ecology are discussed nicely in the following reasons:
(i) It play an important role in conservation of environment
Study of ecology plays a very important role in helping us to understand our environment. It helps us to know about different affects of environment which may either occur due to human interference or due to certain other environmental issues. It especially shows the extent of damage we (or humans) cause to the environment.
Lack of understanding of ecology in human results in degradation of land and the environment. It also results in the extinction of certain species of organism, such as: dinosaurs, white shark, mammoths, etc. Hence, the study of ecology helps us to monitor and protect our environment from any damage and danger.
(ii) Importance of ecology in resource allocation
Study of ecology also provides many information about the utilization of resources by many organisms and on the basis this knowledge (or information) we can identify which resources are necessary for the survival of different organisms and hence we can easily allocate the resources according to the requirement.
Lack of such ecological knowledge or information may lead to scarcity of the required resources which will ultimately result in competition between the organisms and finally weak ones will get extinct.
(iii) Role of ecology in energy conservation
People often obtain energy from different ecological products, such as: fossil fuels, coal, wood, etc. Energy is also needed by organisms for their proper growth and body development, which they obtain from their healthy food or nutritious diet and such foods in turn are made of different ecological products.
Hence, lack of proper ecological knowledge may lead to the over-exploitation of energy resources of our ecology. Thus, for conserving the energy and preventing the unnecessary wastage of energy resources, proper understanding of ecology is very necessary, otherwise this may lead to its depletion.
(iv) Importance of ecology in Eco-Friendliness
Proper research and knowledge of ecology finally encourages eco-friendliness. Developing a balance and harmony in the ecosystem, between different other living species and adapting a lifestyle that protects the ecology of life. This makes the ecosystem healthier and productive. Hence, in this case too the knowledge of ecology plays a very important role.
(v) Role of ecology in Disease and pest control
Study of ecology also provides information about the interaction of many microorganisms with the environment. One of the most prominent example which shows how ecology deals with diseases is the case of malaria, which is a protozoan disease spread by female anopheles mosquito. To control the spread of this disease and even to prevent it, interaction of anopheles mosquito with its environment should be known. Hence, in this case too ecology plays a very important role.
Examples of Ecology
Following are a few examples of ecology, given below:
This type of ecology focuses mainly on the relationship between humans and the environment around them. It mostly highlights different impacts that human beings have on the environment and the study of this relationship provides knowledge on how we can improve ourselves for the wellness of human beings and the environment.
It is the process in which an organism alters its environment for the benefit of themselves and other living beings. A prominent example of such process is seen in termites, which creates a 6 feet tall mound and at the same time feed and protect their entire population.