Ecology (from Greek: οἶκος, “house” or “living relations”; -λογία, “study of”) is the scientific study of the distributions, abundance and relations of organisms and their interactions with the environment. Ecology includes the study of plant and animal populations, plant and animal communities and ecosystems. Ecosystems describe the web or network of relations among organisms at different scales of organization. Since ecology refers to any form of biodiversity, ecologists research everything from tiny bacteria’s role in nutrient recycling to the effects of tropical rain forest on the Earth’s atmosphere. The discipline of ecology emerged from the natural sciences in the late 19th century. Ecology is not synonymous with environment, environmentalism, or environmental science. Ecology is closely related to the disciplines of physiology, evolution, genetics and behavior.
Like many of the natural sciences, a conceptual understanding of ecology is found in the broader details of study, including:
- . life processes explaining adaptations
- . distribution and abundance of organisms
- . the movement of materials and energy through living communities
- . the successional development of ecosystems, and
- the abundance and distribution of biodiversity in context of the environment.
Ecology is distinguished from natural history, which deals primarily with the descriptive study of organisms. It is a sub-discipline of biology, which is the study of life.
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 & applied science and it provides a conceptual framework for understanding and researching human social interaction