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

Ecology (from Greek: , "house" and -, "study of") is a branch of biology concerning the spatial and temporal patterns of the distribution and abundance of organisms, including the causes and consequences. 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 or strictly natural history. Ecology 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. (Full article...)

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Male hartebeest locking horns and fiercely defending their territories. An example of direct competition
Male hartebeest locking horns and fiercely defending their territories. An example of direct competition.

Intraspecific competition is an interaction in population ecology, whereby members of the same species compete for limited resources. This leads to a reduction in fitness for both individuals, but the more fit individual survives and is able to reproduce. By contrast, interspecific competition occurs when members of different species compete for a shared resource. Members of the same species have rather similar requirements for resources, whereas different species have a smaller contested resource overlap, resulting in intraspecific competition generally being a stronger force than interspecific competition.

Individuals can compete for food, water, space, light, mates or any other resource which is required for survival or reproduction. The resource must be limited for competition to occur; if every member of the species can obtain a sufficient amount of every resource then individuals do not compete and the population grows exponentially. Prolonged exponential growth is rare in nature because resources are finite and so not every individual in a population can survive, leading to intraspecific competition for the scarce resources. (Full article...)

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The Iguazu Falls, on the border of Brazil and Argentina are waterfalls of the Iguazu River located on the border of the Brazilian State of Paraná and the Argentine Province of Misiones.

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A tree island in the Everglades covered by Old World climbing fern.

Invasive species in the Everglades are exotic plants and animals that are not native to the area and have aggressively adapted to conditions in wilderness areas in southern Florida. The Everglades are a massive watershed in the southern portion of the U.S. state of Florida that drains overflow from the vast shallow Lake Okeechobee that is in turn fed by the Kissimmee River. The overflow forms a very shallow river about 60 miles (100 km) wide and 100 miles (160 km) long that travels about half a mile per day. The network of ecosystems created by the Everglades are surrounded by urban areas to the east in the South Florida metropolitan area, to the west by Naples and Fort Myers, and to the south by Florida Bay, a marine environment that receives fresh water from and is maintained by the Everglades. As it is surrounded on three sides and close to a major transportation and shipping center, it is particularly vulnerable to the importation of exotic species.

In the 20th century, Florida experienced a population surge unparalleled in the U.S., accompanied by rapid urban expansion made possible by draining portions of the Everglades. Flood control became a priority and the Central & South Florida Flood Control Project, from 1947 to 1971, constructed over 1,400 miles (2,300 km) of canals and flood control structures in South Florida. The widespread building created new habitats and disturbed established plant and animal communities. Many of the new residents or tourists in Florida were responsible for introducing plant species to the area by accident, or deliberately to improve landscaping. Many animals have been introduced similarly, and have either escaped or been released to proliferate on their own. Several terms are used to identify non-native species: exotic, invader, immigrant, colonist, introduced, nonindigenous, and naturalized. "Naturalized" usually refers to species that have adapted to a region over a long period of time, while "invasive" refers to particularly destructive or aggressive species. (Full article...)

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Howard Thomas Odum (September 1, 1924 – September 11, 2002), usually cited as H. T. Odum, was an American ecologist. He is known for his pioneering work on ecosystem ecology, and for his provocative proposals for additional laws of thermodynamics, informed by his work on general systems theory. (Full article...)

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... systems ecology is an interdisciplinary field of ecology, taking a holistic approach to the study of ecological systems, especially ecosystems? Systems ecology can be seen as an application of general systems theory to ecology. Central to the systems ecology approach is the idea that an ecosystem is a complex system exhibiting emergent properties.

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" Don't blow it--good planets are hard to find. "
-- Time (magazine)

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African Invertebrates is a peer-reviewed scientific journal that covers the taxonomy, systematics, biogeography, ecology, conservation, and palaeontology of Afrotropical invertebrates, whether terrestrial, freshwater, or marine. African Invertebrates is currently published twice a year and accepts large revisionary works, as well as review papers and smaller contributions. (Full article...)

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