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What is Ecology? Types, Importance And Examples

Last Updated : 08 Dec, 2023
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Ecology is the study of the interactions between different species and their surroundings. The Greek terms “Oikos” and “Logos” (which translate to “home, habitat, or place of residence) are the roots of the English word “ecology.” German zoologist Ernst Haeckel first used the word “ecology” in 1866. All living things and their surroundings are interconnected. They have a variety of effects on one another. The environment has a significant influence on the life cycles of many organisms that inhabit it. Living things modify how they function in response to environmental changes. These kinds of linkages between species and their interactions with the natural world are the subject of ecology.


What is Ecology?

The study of the interactions between organisms and their environment is known as Ecology. From the microscopic to the global level, scientists have access to a wide range of lenses through which they might study ecology. We’ll learn more about these various ecology forms in this article. Focus has been given to the selection factors that lead to evolutionary change at every level of ecology. There are several techniques for observing and quantifying the pressures, which have a wide range of origins. The main goal of an ecologist is to gain a better understanding of how organisms function, their adaptations and environments, interactions, and biodiversity. There are two components of the ecosystem which are given special emphasis.

Biotic and Abiotic Factors

Ecology is mainly divided into the factors that are biotic and abiotic. Ecology is the study of the interaction between living and non-living things.

Biotic Components

All of the organisms in the environment are affected by biotic factors. An ecosystem’s structure is impacted by its presence and the biological waste products they produce. All living things, including people, fungi, and bacteria as well as animals and plants, are considered to be biotic factors. Each species’ ability to reproduce and to meet basic needs like food involves interactions between many biotic variables.

Typical Biotic Factors: All the living things found in an ecosystem are examples of biotic resources. Among them are the following: producers, consumers, decomposers, and detritivores.

Abiotic Components

Abiotic factors are any chemical or physical elements that are not living and are found in the lithosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere. These elements have a substantial effect on the persistence and procreation of species within an environment. Autotrophic species, for instance, may not be able to exist without enough sunlight. Every organism is impacted by this effect, which cascades up the food chain.

Typical Abiotic Factors: Abiotic factors in an ecosystem include air, water, temperature, humidity, altitude, soil pH, type, etc. Salinity, oxygen, pH, flow velocity, depth, and temperature of the water are also abiotic examples in an aquatic ecosystem.

Also Read: Components of Ecosystem

Objectives of Ecology

A significant objective of ecology is to comprehend how biotic elements of an ecosystem interact and depend on one another. Additionally, it discusses how the biotic and abiotic components of the ecosystem interact. Objectives of ecology are to study:

  • The connections between the various creatures in an ecosystem.
  • The effects of temporal variations on an ecosystem’s biotic elements.
  • Changes in an organism’s behavior that occur in the environment.
  • Structural and functional adjustments are made by an organism in response to environmental changes.
  • Biological productivity and energy flow in natural systems.

Hierarchy of Ecology

Every single living thing that exists in the natural world is a part of ecology. The ranking of these individuals is referred to as ecological hierarchy. In order to comprehend how organisms interact with their environments, ecology can be studied at a variety of levels. Beginning with the easiest level and working up to the most difficult, these levels are in the following order:

  • Organism: A living being that can act or function independently is referred to as an organism.
  • Population: A population is a group of creatures belonging to the same species that coexist in the same area and communicate with one another.
  • Community: All the populations of numerous species that live in the same area and interact make up a community.
  • Ecosystem: An ecosystem is made up of all of the living things (all populations) in a certain area as well as the inanimate elements of the surrounding environment.
  • Biome: The terrestrial element of the biosphere is split up into enormous regions known as biomes. Climate, flora, animal life, and the general kind of soil are used to identify biomes.
  • Biosphere: The region on earth where life can exist and flourish is called the biosphere. It is the area of the planet that is capable of supporting life.


Types of Ecology

Ecology can be divided into various categories. The various ecological types are listed below:


Population Ecology

It deals with variables that affect and change the genetic makeup and number of organisms in a population. Ecologists conduct research on population size, population growth, and any other interactions with the population.

Landscape Ecology

It addresses the flow of materials, organisms, energy, and other ecological byproducts. The influence of human activity on the structures and functions of the landscape is highlighted by landscape ecology.

Community Ecology

It focuses on how interactions between living things alter community structure. An ecology community is made up of two or more populations of various species that are localized in one place.

Global Ecology

It focuses on how the ecosystems, land, atmosphere, and oceans of the world interact. It aids in understanding global interactions and the impact they have on the world as a whole.

Ecosystem Ecology

It covers the entire ecosystem, including the investigation of both living and non-living elements and how they interact with the outside world. This field of study investigates ecosystem functioning, relationships, etc.

Molecular Ecology

The creation of proteins and how they impact organisms and their environments are the main topics of study in ecology. At the molecular level, this occurs. The proteins that interact with the environment and one another are created by DNA. Several sophisticated species are the result of these interactions.

Organismal Ecology

The study of an individual organism’s behavior, morphology, physiology, etc. in response to environmental stresses is known as organismal ecology. It examines the interactions between certain species and biotic and abiotic elements. Ecologists study how organisms adjust to these living and non-living elements of their environment. Different adaptations, such as morphological, behavioral, and physiological adaptations, are associated with specific species.

Importance of Ecology

The significance of ecology is demonstrated by the following factors:

  1. Environmental protection: Ecology enables us to comprehend the impact of our actions on the ecosystem. It demonstrates the depth of the harm we do to the ecosystem. The environment and the land have deteriorated as a result of a lack of ecological knowledge. A few species have also become extinct or are in danger as a result of it. Examples include mammoths, white sharks, and dinosaurs. We can thus defend them against harm and danger by studying the environment and living things.
  2. Resource Distribution: Ecology enables us to understand which resources are essential for the existence of various organisms. Because of our dependence on fossil fuels, humans have significantly increased their carbon footprint. There are numerous other alternate sources of electricity and energy, hence it has been demonstrated that this is not a strictly necessary requirement. Ecology enables us to consider this issue from various angles and to come to well-informed conclusions about how to address it. To build a sustainable system that will persist, it is crucial that we as a species modify our resource demands.
  3. Conservation of Energy: Energy is necessary for all living things to thrive and flourish. The overuse of energy sources like light, food, and radiation as a result of a lack of ecological understanding causes the depletion of these resources. A proper understanding of ecological requirements helps to conserve energy for future uses by minimizing the excessive use of energy resources.
  4. Disease and Pest Control: Microbial creatures are a topic covered by ecology. They play a role in our environment that is equal to that of any other kind of life. Certain bacteria must be thoroughly researched in order to stop the rapid spread of disease in humans. To fully understand how to address the issues they produce, everything from viruses to parasitic worms must be investigated.
  5. Increases Environmental Awareness: Eco-friendliness is thereafter promoted by the research and information ecology offers. The major objective is to establish a balance in every ecosystem, and in order to do this, a lot of study and work must be done. Every time ecology makes progress in an area, it increases understanding among the general public and fosters a more eco-aware perspective on the world. People are increasingly receptive to living sustainably and want to do their part to protect the environment.

Examples of Ecology

Examples of ecology include the following:

  • Plant ecology: It investigates how plants interact with their biotic and physical surroundings. Plants must obtain their light, water, and nutrient needs directly from the environment because they are sessile, photosynthetic organisms. Their energy comes from the unidirectional genesis of light.
  • Human Ecology: It focuses on how people and the environment interact. It highlights the negative effects that humans have on the environment and provides information on how we might better ourselves for the benefit of both people and the ecosystem.

FAQs on Ecology

Q1: What is Ecology?


Ecology is the study of the interactions between different species and their surroundings.

Q2: Who coined the term Ecology?


German zoologist Ernst Haeckel first used the word “ecology” in 1866.

Q3: What is Ecological Hierarchy?


Every single living thing that exists in the natural world is a part of ecology. The ranking of these individuals is referred to as ecological hierarchy. 

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