Ecology - Definition
Related Words: Anatomy, Anthropology, Astrobiology, Autecology, Bacteriology, Biochemistry, Biology, Biometrics, Biometry, Bionics, Bionomics, Biophysics, Botany, Conchology, Cryobiology, Cybernetics, Cytology
Ecology is the branch of science that studies the distribution and abundance of living organisms, and the interactions between organisms and their environment. The environment of an organism includes both its physical habitat, which can be described as the sum of local abiotic factors like climate and geology, as well as the other organisms which share its habitat. The term was coined in 1866 by the German biologist Ernst Haeckel from the Greek oikos meaning "household" and logos meaning "science:" the "study of the household of nature."
Ecological systems are studied at several different levels from individuals and populations to ecosystems and biosphere level. Ecology is a multi-disciplinary science, drawing on many other branches of science.
Applied ecology is the practice of employing ecological principles and understanding to solve real world problems. Examples include measuring the economic worth of ecosystems, calculating fishing quotas, measuring environmental impact from construction or logging, building a case for the conservation of a species, and determining the most effective way to protect a species.
In a broader sense, ecology can also mean:
the natural environment, or an analysis or study using the principles and methods of ecology.
For example, human ecology looks at humans and their interactions with the natural environment. Political ecology takes on both alternative meanings, and may use ecology's methods in a new context by looking at interactions of societies and states rather than species or populations, but may also mean politics related to environmental issues.
Ecology, as a scientific discipline, does not itself dictate what is right or wrong. However maintaining biodiversity within ecosystems and related ecological goals (such as preventing species extinctions) have become scientific ways to express the goals of environmentalism and has given scientific methodology, measure, and terminology to environmental issues, making the two heavily linked. A holistic view is also stressed in both ecology and environmentalism.