Portal:Ecology

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Ecology
Unique plants in the Ruwenzori Mountains, SW Uganda, Bujuku Valley, at about 12,139 feet (3,700 metre) elevation)
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Ecology, also referred to as ecological science, is the scientific study of the distribution and abundance of living organisms and how the distribution and abundance are affected by interactions between the organisms and their environment. The environment of an organism includes both physical properties, which can be described as the sum of local abiotic factors such as solar insolation, climate and geology, as well as the other organisms that share its habitat. The term Ökologie was coined in 1866 by the German biologist Ernst Haeckel; the word is derived from the Greek οικος (oikos, "household") and λόγος (logos, "study"); therefore "ecology" means the "study of the household (of nature)".

Ecology is also a human science. There are many practical applications of ecology in conservation biology, wetland management, natural resource management (agriculture, forestry, fisheries), city planning (urban ecology), community health, economics, basic and applied science and human social interaction (human ecology)

(Pictured left: Unique plants in the Ruwenzori Mountains, SW Uganda, Bujuku Valley, at about 12,139 feet (3,700 metre) elevation)

Selected article

An alligator in the Florida Everglades, the largest wetland system in the United States.
Pictured left: An alligator in the Florida Everglades, the largest wetland system in the United States.

A wetland is an area of land whose soil is saturated with moisture either permanently or seasonally. Such areas may also be covered partially or completely by shallow pools of water. Wetlands include swamps, marshes, and bogs, among others. The water found in wetlands can be saltwater, freshwater, or brackish. The world's largest wetland is the Pantanal which straddles Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay in South America. The study of wetlands has recently been termed paludology in some publications.

Wetlands are found on every continent except Antarctica, and are considered the most biologically diverse of all ecosystems. Plant life found in wetlands includes mangrove, water lilies, cattails, sedges, tamarack, black spruce, cypress, gum, and many others. Animal life includes many different amphibians, reptiles, birds, insects, and mammals. In many locations, such as the United Kingdom, Iraq, South Africa and the United States, wetlands are the subject of conservation efforts and Biodiversity Action Plans.

The UN Millennium Ecosystem Assessment determined that environmental degradation is more prominent within wetland systems than any other ecosystem on Earth. International conservation efforts and the development of rapid assessment tools are being used in conjunction with each other to inform people about wetland issues.

Wetlands also serve as natural wastewater purification systems—e.g., in Calcutta and Arcata. Many wetland systems possess biofilters, hydrophytes, and organisms that in addition to nutrient up-take abilities have the capacity to remove toxic substances that have come from pesticides, industrial discharges, and mining activities. The up-take occurs through most parts of the plant including the stems, roots, and leaves . Floating plants can absorb and filter heavy metals. Eichhornia crassipes (water hyacinth), Lemna (duckweed) and Azolla (water fern) store iron and copper commonly found in wastewater. Many fast-growing plants rooted in the soils of wetlands such as Typha (cattail) and Phragmites (reed) also aid in the role of heavy metal up-take. Animals such as the oyster can filter more than 200 liters (53 gallons) of water per day while grazing for food, removing nutrients, suspended sediments, and chemical contaminants in the process.


Selected picture

Polar bears near north pole.jpg
Credit: U.S. Navy

Three polar bears approach the USS Honolulu (SSN-718), 280 miles from the North Pole. Polar bears have adapted through the process of evolution to have white fur that matches the white, icy arctic tundra.

Selected biography

Aldo Leopold (January 11, 1887 – April 21, 1948) was an American author, scientist ecologist, forester, and environmentalist. He was a professor at the University of Wisconsin and is best known for his book A Sand County Almanac (1949), which has sold over two million copies. He was influential in the development of modern environmental ethics and in the movement for wilderness conservation. His ethics of nature and wildlife preservation had a profound impact on the environmental movement, with his biocentric or holistic ethics regarding land. He emphasized biodiversity and ecology and was a founder of the science of wildlife management.

Early on Leopold was assigned to hunt and kill bears, wolves, and mountain lions in New Mexico. Local ranchers hated these predators because of livestock losses. However, Leopold came to respect the animals. He developed an ecological ethic that replaced the earlier wilderness ethic that stressed the need for human dominance. Rethinking the importance of predators in the balance of nature resulted in the return of bears and mountain lions to New Mexico wilderness areas.

By the 1930s Leopold was the nation's foremost expert on wildlife management. He advocated the scientific management of wildlife habitats by both public and private landholders rather than a reliance on game refuges, hunting laws, and other methods intended to protect specific species of desired game. Leopold viewed wildlife management as a technique for restoring and maintaining diversity in the environment rather than primarily as a means of producing a shootable surplus.


Did you know...

IndustrialSymbiosisWasteHeatExchange.png
...industrial Ecology is the study of material and energy flows through industrial systems? The global industrial economy can be modeled as a network of industrial processes that extract resources from the Earth and transform those resources into commodities which can be bought and sold to meet the needs of humanity.
(Pictured left: Example of Industrial Symbiosis. Waste steam from a waste incinerator (right) is piped to an ethanol plant (left) where it is used as in input to their production process.)
Other "Did you know" facts... Read more...

Ecology news

From the Wikinews Environment portal
  • July 9: India Supreme Court overrules High Court: rivers Yamuna, Ganga no longer living entities
  • July 7: Volvo announces all new car models electric or hybrid from 2019
  • January 3: Gunman kills Burundi environment minister Emmanuel Niyonkuru
  • December 29: Around 7,100 cheetahs remain, say experts
  • October 5: World Wildlife Fund: 75% of seafood species consumed in Singapore not caught sustainably
  • May 31: Australian Opposition Leader pledges to save Great Barrier Reef
  • May 1: 100 tons of ivory burned in Africa; estimated at $250 million on black market
  • March 4: Gunmen murder Honduran indigenous leader Berta Cáceres
  • November 4: Volkswagen emissions scandal may affect thousands more cars
  • September 24: Volkswagen CEO resigns after emissions scandal

Additional News Highlights
  • November 5, 2009: "New ocean forming in African desert."
More ecology news on Wikinews

Selected quote

A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.
— Franklin D. Roosevelt

Selected publication

The Journal of Ecologyis a bimonthly peer-reviewedscientific journalcovering all aspects of the ecologyof plants. It was established in 1913 and is published by Wiley-Blackwellon behalf of the British Ecological Society. The Journal of Ecologypublishes papers on plant ecology (including algae) in both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. In addition to populationand community ecology, articles on biogeochemistry, ecosystems ecology, microbial ecology, physiological plant ecology, climate change, molecular genetics, mycorrhizalecology, and the interactions between plants and organisms such as animals or bacteria, are published regularly.
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  • Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy – Ecology
  • The Encyclopedia of Earth – Wilderness: Biology & Ecology
  • The Nature Education Knowledge Project – Ecology
  • Ecology Dictionary – Explanation of ecological terms
  • Ecology Journals – List of ecological scientific journals


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