∞ generated and posted on 2016.08.30 ∞

Study of the interactions between organisms and their environments.

These interactions typically are differentiated into those between living (biotic) and not living (abiotic) environmental components. Among living components we can further distinguish between those that are of the same species (conspecifics) and those that are not. Additional distinctions can be made into those things that as a whole are good for an organisms (resources, mutualistic symbionts), those that are detrimental to an organism (e.g., exploiter organisms), and those that are neither good nor bad.


Figure legend: Different levels of ecological study with so-called 'organismal ecology' at the bottom and consideration of the entire biosphere at the top. To the left and right are indications of what, in broad terms, is considered at each level with 'n' a description of number of species meaning, essentially, 'more than one'.

The study of ecology typically is differentiated into a number of sub-disciplines. These include the study of interactions among conspecifics which is considered by population ecologists, interactions between different species as studied in terms of community ecology, and ecosystem ecology which is the study of the interaction between organisms and ecosystems where ecosystems consist of both biotic and abiotic components (thereby contrasting populations and communities which consist only of living things). One can also study the interaction between organisms and the abiotic environment from the organism's perspective rather than that of the ecosystem's perspective, etc.

The following is a sampling of concepts associated with the science of ecology:

Abiotic, Aerobe, Anaerobe, Autotroph, Biotic, Biosphere, Bottom up control, Carrying capacity, Chemoheterotroph, Chemotaxis, Chemotroph, Climax species, Clutch size, Commensalism, Community, Competitive exclusion, Conspecific, Ecological succession, Ecology, Ecosystem, Environment, Eutrophic, Exploiter, Exploitative competition, Exponential growth, Fixed action pattern, Food web, Heterotroph, Host range, Logistic growth, Metagenomics, Microbial ecology, Mutualism, Niche, Parapatric, Parasite, Photoautotroph, Phototaxis, Phototroph, Population, Population biology, Predator, Principle of allocation, Proximate causation, Range, Saprophyte, Symbiosis, Taxis, Trophic interactions, Ultimate causation.

The concept of ecology is often equated with that of environmentalism. While environmentalism clearly is an effort to preserve existing ecological interactions, ecology is a science rather than a movement. The science of conservation ecology (or somewhat equivalently, conservation biology) and that of environmentalism, however, clearly are closely allied where conservation ecology provides a scientific basis towards achieving at least a subset of the goals of the environmentalist movement.

By the way, be careful of people who claim that "everyone is an environmentalist". Obviously everyone wants at least their personal environment to either be or remain hospitable to themselves. This thinking, however, does not necessarily translate into prioritizing the preservation of nature over, for example, the immediate well being of self.