Ecology and environmental science relationship

Ecology: Examining the Relationships Between Living Things |

ecology and environmental science relationship

2 Environmental science and ecology includes the study of the relationships between abiotic, biotic and human, the ecological effects of pollution, disturbance . Ecology and Environmental science are a category for this year's Science & SciLifeLab Prize for Young Scientist. Find out more. Ecology focus on the interactions between organisms and their environment ( including other What is the relationship between Earth science and ecology?.

Ecologists might investigate the relationship between a population of organisms and some physical characteristic of their environment, such as concentration of a chemical; or they might investigate the interaction between two populations of different organisms through some symbiotic or competitive relationship. For example, an interdisciplinary analysis of an ecological system which is being impacted by one or more stressors might include several related environmental science fields. In an estuarine setting where a proposed industrial development could impact certain species by water and air pollutionbiologists would describe the flora and fauna, chemists would analyze the transport of water pollutants to the marsh, physicists would calculate air pollution emissions and geologists would assist in understanding the marsh soils and bay muds.

Environmental chemistry Environmental chemistry is the study of chemical alterations in the environment. Principal areas of study include soil contamination and water pollution.

ecology and environmental science relationship

The topics of analysis include chemical degradation in the environment, multi-phase transport of chemicals for example, evaporation of a solvent containing lake to yield solvent as an air pollutantand chemical effects upon biota.

As an example study, consider the case of a leaking solvent tank which has entered the habitat soil of an endangered species of amphibian. As a method to resolve or understand the extent of soil contamination and subsurface transport of solvent, a computer model would be implemented. Chemists would then characterize the molecular bonding of the solvent to the specific soil type, and biologists would study the impacts upon soil arthropodsplants, and ultimately pond-dwelling organisms that are the food of the endangered amphibian.

Geosciences Geosciences include environmental geologyenvironmental soil sciencevolcanic phenomena and evolution of the Earth's crust. In some classification systems this can also include hydrologyincluding oceanography. As an example study of soils erosioncalculations would be made of surface runoff by soil scientists. Fluvial geomorphologists would assist in examining sediment transport in overland flow.

ecology and environmental science relationship

Physicists would contribute by assessing the changes in light transmission in the receiving waters. For the first time, the scientific community started to consider the importance of environmental factors on the biological systems within it.

Specifically, Warming looked at the results of fire, temperature and other abiotic influences. Warming is now considered to have created Botanical Geography known also as biogeography and today as a division of ecology 7 and contributed greatly to the modern discipline. It was also during the late 19th and early 20th century that researchers began to finally understand the massive environmental impact of 19th-century imperialist actions such as deforestation and the concerns over upsetting the environmental imbalance of the industrial revolution.

Once understood, and the importance of balance realized in any biological system, ecology quickly applied to sciences other than those concerned with the environment. Vernadsky, a Russian geologist who defected to France around the time of the Russian Revolution, wrote extensively about the biosphere in the aptly titled study The Biosphere published in 8.

He did not coin the term.

ecology and environmental science relationship

That honor goes to a fellow geologist by the name of Eduard Suess, an Austrian, in The concept of the idea of our planet and the biological systems within it making up part of a whole was born. It was adopted by a number of other disciplines and taught in top academic institutions in a wide range of biological sciences. Tansley's important work was in presenting ecology as a philosophy. This alone perhaps permitted its adoption into the theories of many scientific disciplines.

Also in the early part of the 20th century, American botanist Henry Chandler Cowles effectively founded the concept of "dynamic ecology". Studying the Indiana Dunes at the south side of Lake Michigan, he identified evidence of vegetation and soil change over large time periods His work demonstrated how environmental influences change a landscape; unlike his contemporary botanists, he was largely interested in landscape change as an influencer of botanical profiles.

Tansley's and Cowles' work broadened the scope of ecology. Also, in the first half of the century, Charles Elton began animal ecology, but the real breakthrough was the work of British-born ecologist G. Evelyn Hutchinson and his work across New England. Under his work, ecology became an applied science as well as theoretical His work impacted many subdisciplines including biogeochemistry the impact of geological, biological and chemical actions on the environmententomology insectsgenetics, limnology inland water bodiesand population dynamics theory.

The Sub-Disciplines of Ecology As already discussed, despite its strong associations with environmental studies, ecology is simply an umbrella term. There are many subdisciplines, some of which pertain to the environment, some of which do not.

Applied Ecology This is one area where ecology applies to the environment. It's an applied science where practitioners use ecological principles to identify and solve problems in the real world, examining challenges for the economy and human impact The attempt to balance effective land use with conservation. Typical examples include agricultural management also known as agroecology, using interdisciplinary approach including genetics, animal and plant biology, conservation biology within the landscape, and environmental management.

The aim of this discipline is to examine the impact of humanity on the landscape and various topographies and attempt to encourage better use so the landscape and wildlife are not damaged.

Biogeochemistry This fuses environment with physics and the effect of biological materials on global chemistry and vice versa.

It's largely concerned with the natural physical cycles of energy and matter on our planet 11seeking to understand chemical reactions and the balance with biological life. Through this subdiscipline of ecology, the chemical elements of nitrogen, oxygen and carbon and their interactions in all levels of the natural environment from the lithosphere the hard outer shell of the planet through the biosphere the level at which life exists and can survive to the highest level of the atmosphere and their importance for planetary ecology.

Biogeography This area of ecology has an overlap with evolutionary biology as it concerns the study of species - particularly their geographic distribution.

  • Environmental science
  • Difference between Ecology and Environmental Science

The distribution study of species and their related ecosystems cover geological time so it can apply to paleontology and geography so it can be environmental biology and evolutionary biology. It seeks to answer questions concerning why biological species thrive in one ecological system but not in another, the effects of environmental change on species distribution on migration, contraction and spread.

ecology and environmental science relationship

It's a true multidisciplinary study, adopting elements of the environment, climate, biology, geology and evolution Chemical Ecology This niche area examines the use of chemicals in an environment This is not about pesticides or human impact, but how biological species use chemicals. It examines chemicals as defense mechanisms for example, the purposes of capsicum in chili plants as a defense, the use of sprays by skunks against predator attack, in using pheromones and other chemical substances to attract mates and mark boundaries, but also in digestive systems of animals and carnivorous plants.

Biological life uses chemistry in remarkable ways; this area also looks at the impact of those chemicals on the environment. Community Ecology Another aspect of ecology that overlaps with biological systems and their relationships looks at how communities of species react to and interact with each other, predators and prey and other species It can apply to human communities and the dynamics of social groups; it can equally apply to the rigid hierarchies of animal species such as wolves and meerkats, symbiotic relationships, co-operation between unrelated species.


It is a great lens through which to view biodiversity in any ecosystem or planetary biodiversity. Biologically, it may also look at coevolution the process by which species actions in an environment affect and influence one another It is, however, increasingly vital to our understanding of conservation issues, species protection and risk mitigation.

Those who work in conservation ecology examine how we might change practices when working in an environment to mitigate the risk of the extinction of a species that relies on that environment to survive. They work closely with or sometimes as conservation biologists, but ecologists are more concerned with the impact of the environment, biodiversity and natural resources as a whole, rather than treating a species and its problems as existing in a bubble Ecophysiology Also known as environmental physiology or physiological ecology, it concerns the effects of the environment on a species' physiology.

In this way, it has some overlap with evolutionary biology by looking at abiological processes, specifically environmental forcings and adaptation, rather than natural drift, and comparative physiology by attempting to explain what environmental impacts may have led to genetic drift between closely related similar species living in slightly different environments.

Charles Darwin examined the finches of the Galapagos Islands which were physiologically distinct but still the same species In humans, the study has been used to explain the reason for the great variation in human skin color, largely considered due to levels of sunshine.

Ecotoxicology This small but growing area of ecology examines the ecological role of toxic materials on biological systems - on individuals, species, communities and biosphere levels. The effects of pollution on life and the environment is an ongoing problem. But rather than looking at pollution from a medical perspective, they examine broad and long-term problems for the environment - both local and large-scale level.

Past studies in ecotoxicology that led to the Clean Air Act and the Environmental Protection Agency, to protect biodiversity. Rachel Carson, a marine biologist and conservationist, writer of Silent Spring inis credited with starting this area of study, separating it from the medical study of toxins Evolutionary Ecology Also Known as Ecoevolution Fusing biology and evolution with ecology, this area of study considers the environmental forcings that affect species evolution.

This can include a sudden change in temperature or weather variance, the presence and profile of vegetation in an area to which some of the population has migrated, the impact of predators and prey species and population pressures.

It considers evolution within a community at an individual level and studies what aspects may impact the community. Each individual has a specific set of needs, creating competition which plays off against Darwin's survival of the fittest in terms of species Fire Ecology To many, wildfires are a natural disaster on which governments spend millions tackling and controlling.

Ecologically speaking, there are vital for regenerating those ecological systems that they destroy. Fire ecologists examine the Earth's relationship with fire in natural habitats, how they start and end, why they start in certain areas, frequency and intensity and the area's ecological history with wildfire Functional Ecology This area considers the pragmatic aspects of ecology - the part that certain species play in the broader ecology.

Examples include predator and prey interactions, the study of the roles or functions, dependence and interdependence, that certain species or groups thereof play in an ecosystem to maintain balance within the system.

Modern problems that they might study would include the removal of wildflowers vital to bee population, destruction of habitats vital to prey species that will, in turn, damage predator numbers Global Ecology This is the study of the entire planet as an ecosystem and the micro and macro parts that comprise it.

Ecology: Examining the Relationships Between Living Things

Our planet is a complex system where events in one area can have either local, regional or planet-wide knock-on effects.

Global ecology understands the impacts that weather systemsspecies migration, pollution, natural events and any other localized issues can have on the other side of the planet, not a series of isolated events. It addresses the macroecological questions such as the effects of large natural disasters, global climate change and ocean acidification In the 21st century, many of its practitioners examine the human impact on the global ecology.

ecology and environmental science relationship

Human Ecology Humans are one of the most successful species ever to have evolved on this planet. No species has changed the habitat quite in the way that we have changed it. Human ecology is an interdisciplinary approach looking at the ecological impact on the environment, biodiversity, species and adaptation of human life covering ouryears of existence.

Ecology - Rules for Living on Earth: Crash Course Biology #40

It is defined as the study of humanity's ecological dominance deforestation for agriculture, urbanization and other changescrossbreeding of animal and plant species and the impact that has on natural environments, and interactivity with environments - modification and adaptation.

Landscape Ecology It is only relatively recently that we have come to understand the ecology of individual landscapes.

Ecology vs Environmental Science - Difference

This area of ecology examines the interactions between separate, discrete and disparate elements within a single landscape type as well as its structure, composition and functions within a wider ecology.

How a landscape is defined is not always clear, but through the lens of landscape ecology, it is a system containing a specific ecological pattern.

It can be a mountain range or a single hill within a wetland. It can be a freshwater floodplain and its relationship with the river or lake that runs through it Macroecology Between landscape ecology and global ecology, this is the study of large-scale ecological phenomena that cover multiple geographic locations but are not large enough to be considered global.

An example of this is continent-wide impacts of effects of a large volcanic explosion. The eruption caused disruption across a limited but important area of the northern hemisphere. The ecological problems that this caused are macroecological. Marine Ecology and Aquatic Ecology The interest of the ecology of water and aquatic landscapes, marine life, their relationships and interactions - both abiotic and biotic factors.

Experts in this area will look at biological life at the biochemical, cellular, individual, and community. Marine ecosystems are also of interest, including the marine environment as a biosphere as well as external pressure from weather systems, and dry land ecosystems and pressure. Some examine marine geology and geography and the impact of underwater landscape on life and chemical processes Microbial Ecology Microorganisms are vital to all life and defined as those too small to be seen by the naked eye, requiring a microscope.