Portal:Ecology
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Portal:Ecology
Ecology
The Earth seen from Apollo 17.jpg

Ecology (from Greek: , "house", or "environment"; -, "study of") is a branch of biology concerning interactions among organisms and their biophysical environment, which includes both biotic and abiotic components. Topics of interest include the biodiversity, distribution, biomass, and populations of organisms, as well as cooperation and competition within and between species. Ecosystems are dynamically interacting systems of organisms, the communities they make up, and the non-living components of their environment. Ecosystem processes, such as primary production, pedogenesis, nutrient cycling, and niche construction, regulate the flux of energy and matter through an environment. These processes are sustained by organisms with specific life history traits.

Ecology is not synonymous with environmentalism, natural history, or environmental science. It overlaps with the closely related sciences of evolutionary biology, genetics, and ethology. An important focus for ecologists is to improve the understanding of how biodiversity affects ecological function. Ecologists seek to explain:

  • Life processes, interactions, and adaptations
  • The movement of materials and energy through living communities
  • The successional development of ecosystems
  • The abundance and distribution of organisms and biodiversity in the context of the environment.

Ecology has practical applications in conservation biology, wetland management, natural resource management (agroecology, agriculture, forestry, agroforestry, fisheries), city planning (urban ecology), community health, economics, basic and applied science, and human social interaction (human ecology). It is not treated as separate from humans. Organisms (including humans) and resources compose ecosystems which, in turn, maintain biophysical feedback mechanisms that moderate processes acting on living (biotic) and non-living (abiotic) components of the planet. Ecosystems sustain life-supporting functions and produce natural capital like biomass production (food, fuel, fiber, and medicine), the regulation of climate, global biogeochemical cycles, water filtration, soil formation, erosion control, flood protection, and many other natural features of scientific, historical, economic, or intrinsic value.

The word "ecology" ("Ökologie") was coined in 1866 by the German scientist Ernst Haeckel. Ecological thought is derivative of established currents in philosophy, particularly from ethics and politics. Ancient Greek philosophers such as Hippocrates and Aristotle laid the foundations of ecology in their studies on natural history. Modern ecology became a much more rigorous science in the late 19th century. Evolutionary concepts relating to adaptation and natural selection became the cornerstones of modern ecological theory. Read more...

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Biodegradable plastic utensils

Bioplastics are plastic materials produced from renewable biomass sources, such as vegetable fats and oils, corn starch, straw, woodchips, sawdust, recycled food waste, etc. Bioplastic can be made from agricultural by-products and also from used plastic bottles and other containers using microorganisms. Common plastics, such as fossil-fuel plastics (also called petrobased polymers) are derived from petroleum or natural gas. Not all bioplastics are biodegradable nor biodegrade more readily than commodity fossil-fuel derived plastics. Bioplastics are usually derived from sugar derivatives, including starch, cellulose, and lactic acid. As of 2014, bioplastics represented approximately 0.2% of the global polymer market (300 million tons).

IUPAC definition
Biobased polymer derived from the biomass or issued from monomers derived
from the biomass and which, at some stage in its processing into finished
products, can be shaped by flow.
Note 1:Bioplastic is generally used as the opposite of polymer derived from
fossil resources.
Note 2:Bioplastic is misleading because it suggests that any polymer derived
from the biomass is environmentally friendly.
Note 3:The use of the term "bioplastic" is discouraged. Use the expression
"biobased polymer".
Note 4:A biobased polymer similar to a petrobased one does not imply any
superiority with respect to the environment unless the comparison of respective
life cycle assessments is favourable.
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Credit: Nicolas Pourcelot

A limule (Horseshoe crab) in the H? Long Bay, Qu?ng Ninh province, Vietnam. Horseshoe crabs are arthropods that live primarily in shallow ocean waters on soft sandy or muddy bottoms.

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The peacock flounder can change its pattern and colours to match its environment.

Camouflage is the use of any combination of materials, coloration, or illumination for concealment, either by making animals or objects hard to see (crypsis), or by disguising them as something else (mimesis). Examples include the leopard's spotted coat, the battledress of a modern soldier, and the leaf-mimic katydid's wings. A third approach, motion dazzle, confuses the observer with a conspicuous pattern, making the object visible but momentarily harder to locate. The majority of camouflage methods aim for crypsis, often through a general resemblance to the background, high contrast disruptive coloration, eliminating shadow, and countershading. In the open ocean, where there is no background, the principal methods of camouflage are transparency, silvering, and countershading, while the ability to produce light is among other things used for counter-illumination on the undersides of cephalopods such as squid. Some animals, such as chameleons and octopuses, are capable of actively changing their skin pattern and colours, whether for camouflage or for signalling. It is possible that some plants use camouflage to evade being eaten by herbivores.

Military camouflage was spurred by the increasing range and accuracy of firearms in the 19th century. In particular the replacement of the inaccurate musket with the rifle made personal concealment in battle a survival skill. In the 20th century, military camouflage developed rapidly, especially during the First World War. On land, artists such as André Mare designed camouflage schemes and observation posts disguised as trees. At sea, merchant ships and troop carriers were painted in dazzle patterns that were highly visible, but designed to confuse enemy submarines as to the target's speed, range, and heading. During and after the Second World War, a variety of camouflage schemes were used for aircraft and for ground vehicles in different theatres of war. The use of radar since the mid-20th century has largely made camouflage for fixed-wing military aircraft obsolete. Read more...

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Dr. Exequiel Ezcurra on Isla San Pedro Mártir

Exequiel Ezcurra (born March 21, 1950, Buenos Aires, Argentina) is a Mexican plant ecologist and conservationist. His highly interdisciplinary work spans desert plant ecology, mangroves, island biogeography, sea birds, fisheries, oceanography, and deep-sea ecosystems.

Between 2008 and 2019 he was director of the University of California Institute for Mexico and the United States (UC MEXUS). He is now Professor of Plant Ecology at UC Riverside. Read more...

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...the Gaia hypothesis, also known as Gaia theory or Gaia principle, proposes that all organisms and their inorganic surroundings on Earth are closely integrated to form a single and self-regulating complex system, maintaining the conditions for life on the planet?

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" A land ethic for tomorrow should be as honest as Thoreau's Walden, and as comprehensive as the sensitive science of ecology. It should stress the oneness of our resources and the live-and-help-live logic of the great chain of life. "
-- Stewart Udall

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Forest Ecology and Management is an international peer-reviewed journal that publishes articles linking forest ecology with the management of forest resources. The journal publishes research manuscripts that report results of original research, review articles, and book reviews. Articles may report work related to any forest ecosystems worldwide, including plantations and natural forests.

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