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What is Ecology?

Haeckels Definition of Ecology


The study of the ways in which organisms
interact with their environment is called
ecology. The word ecology was coined in
1869 by the German zoologist Ernst
Haeckel, who derived it from the Greek
oikos, which means "household."
Origin of the wordecology
Greek origin
OIKOS = household
LOGOS = study of

Study of the house/environment in which


we live.
Definition of Ecology
1866 Ernst Haeckel: the comprehensive
science of the relationship of the organism to
the environment
1927 Charles Elton: Scientific natural history
1963 E. P. Odum: The study of the structure
and function of nature
1972 C. J. Krebs: The scientific study of the
interactions that determine the distribution
and abundance of organisms
What is Ecology??
The study of interactions
that take place between
organisms and their
environment.
It explains how living
organisms affect each other
and the world they live in.
5
Ecology is study of interactions between
non-living components in the environment
light
water
wind
nutrients in soil
heat
solar radiation
atmosphere, etc.

AND
Living organisms
Plants
Animals
microorganisms in soil, etc.
To study Ecology involves
For non-living For living
(abiotic) (biotic)
Climatology animal
Hydrology behavior
Oceanography Taxonomy

Physics Physiology

Chemistry mathematics

Geology (population
studies)
soil analysis, etc.
etc.
Ecology
The study of living organisms in the natural
environment
How they interact with one another
How the interact with their nonliving
environment
Modern Definition
Ecology is the scientific study of the
interactions that determine the distribution
and abundance of organisms
Ecology
views each locale as an integrated
whole of interdependent parts that
function as a unit.

caribou
tundra
Timeline of Ecology
late 1700's Antoine Lavoisier, a chemist,
discovered Oxygen and Carbon and their
importance to living things
1852 Robert Angus Smith connected acid rain to
air pollution
1869 Ernst Haeckel coins the term ecology
1875- Eduard Seuss defines the biosphere
1879 Symbiosis is first described
late 1800's animal camouflage studied and
described
1900 Henry Chandler Cowles studies ecological
succession
1915 Ecological Society of America founded
1927 Charles Elton makes the concept of food
chains and webs part of ecology
1933 Aldo Leopold writes Game Management,
beginning the discipline of wildlife management
1935 The Dust Bowl crisis re-focuses ecology on
practical land usage practices
1935 Arthur Tinsley defines ecosystem
1940's Ruth Patrick studied interdependence
of organisms, particularly freshwater
ecosystems. She developed methods to
measure the health of a stream.
1950's People first become aware of the harmful
effects of pollution on ecological systems and on
people.
1951 Nature Conservancy is founded.
1953 Eugene Odum, Howard Odum wrote the first
ecology textbook and ecology becomes a university
course.
1970s James Lovelocks idea of Gaia, that the whole
earth is one living entity and will ensure its own survival
even if humans destroy themselves
1972 Acid rain effects on lakes is discovered and studied
by Harold Harvey
1978 Conservation Biology established as a discipline
focusing on environmental management
1980s Scientists discover hole in the ozone over
Antarctica
1980s Water pollution seriously reduced due to new
sewage treatment practices
1980's Air pollution reduced in cities as unleaded gas and
catalytic converters are used in autos
History of Ecology
Draws upon need to control pests in
agriculture, disease spread in humans
Wildlife and Fisheries management and
harvesting
Human population change-demography,
important in insurance and government
Mathematics and Computers-Equations
describing systems and simulations
ECOLOGY:
Levels of Organization

- a hierarchy of organization
in the environment
What are the Simplest Levels?
Atom
Molecule
Organelle
Cell
Tissue
Organ
System
copyright cmassengale 19
Levels of Organization
Ecologists have organized the
interactions an organism takes
part in into different levels
according to complexity.
1st Level of Organization
Organism:
An individual
living thing that
is made of cells,
uses energy,
reproduces,
responds, grows,
and develops
2 nd Level of Organization
Population:
A group of
organisms, all
of the same
species, which
interbreed and
live in the same
place at the
same time.
3 rd Level of Organization
Biological
Community:
All the
populations of
different
species that
live in the same
place at the
same time.
4 th Level of Organization
Ecosystem:
Populations of plants
and animals that
interact with each
other in a given area
with the abiotic
components of that
area. (terrestrial
or aquatic)
5 th Level of Organization
Biosphere:
The
portion of
Earth that
supports
life.
The Biosphere

Life is found in air, on land,


and in fresh and salt water.
The BIOSPHERE is the
portion of Earth that
supports living things.
Levels of organization - Terms
Biosphere
Surface of the earth
Composed of many ecosystems
Ecosystem
Functional unit of ecology
Backyard, Room ,Park etc.
Levels of organization - Terms

Population one species live in one place at one time


Community All populations (diff. species) that live
in a particular area.
Levels of organization - Terms

Habitat physical location of community


Organism simplest level of organization
Hierarchical Structure of Ecological
Systems
Organism = fundamental unit of ecology. No smaller unit in
biology has an independent life in the environment.
Population = a group of individuals of a single species inhabiting a
specific area
Community = an association of interacting species living in a
particular area.
Ecosystem = a biological community plus all of the abiotic factors
influencing that community.
Biosphere = the aggregation of all ecosystems (the sum of all of the
organisms of the earth and their environment). The living zone of the
planet.
Branches of Ecology
Hierarchical organization according to level of
organization
Conceptual organization according to
theoretical construct or processes studied
Taxonomic according to organisms studied
Time/Place - According to time/place
Methodological organization according to
method used (or technology used)
Theoretical vs. applied (problem solving) - etc.-
Ecology - A Science for Today
We have a great need for ecological
understanding:
what are the best policies for managing our
environmental support systems -- our
watersheds, agricultural lands, wetlands?
we must apply ecological principles to:
solve or prevent environmental problems
inform our economic, political, and social thought
and practice
Ecology
Ecology provides the science behind many
questions related to human impacts on the
environment.
Most ecologists would tend to support efforts to
protect natural systems and restore degraded
environments
Perspectives of Ecologists: Organism Approach
How do form, physiology, and behavior lead to
survival?
Focus is on adaptations, modifications of structure
and function, that suit the organism for life in its
environment:
adaptations result from evolutionary change by
natural selection, a natural link to population
approach...
Perspectives of Ecologists:
Population Approach
What determines the numbers of individuals
and their variations in time and space?
Focus is on processes of birth and death,
immigration and emigration, influenced by:
the physical environment
evolutionary processes
interactions with other populations, a natural link
to community approach...
Perspectives of Ecologists:
Community Approach
How are communities structured from their
component populations?
Diversity and relative abundance of different kinds
of organisms living together, affected by:
population interactions, promoting and limiting
coexistence
feeding relationships, responsible for fluxes of energy
and materials, a natural link to ecosystem approach...
Perspectives of Ecologists: Ecosystem
Approach

How can we account for the activities of populations in the


common currencies of energy and materials?
Focus is on movements of energy and materials and
influences of:
organisms large and small
climate and other physical factors, including those acting on
a global scale, a natural link to biosphere approach...
Perspectives of Ecologists:
Biosphere Approach
Focus is on the global circulation of matter
and energy, affecting:
distributions of organisms
changes in populations
composition of communities
productivity of ecosystems
Approaches to Ecology
Descriptive
What is the pattern? First step, correlative

Functional
Why does the pattern exist? Proximate causal explanations, can be tested
experimentally

Evolutionary
Ultimate causal explanations, long-time scale, may be hard to test
experimentally
Methods to Study Ecology
Theoretical
Mathematical models
Laboratory
Highly controlled but lack realism
Field
Highly realistic but may lack control
Field Study