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The word ecology is derived from Greek language…

So for an idea of Ecology, it can be said that it is study of the environmental house including all the organisms living in it & all the functional processes occurring inside it.

That means we can say that ecology is basically concerned with study of relationship between living organisms & their environment.

Definition of Ecology:

There are various types of definitions of ecology presented by various authors from time to time.

But in very simple words ecology can be defined as,

 “The study of inter-relationships between organisms & also of organisms with their environment”

Ernst Haeckal defined ecology as, “Study of the natural environment including relationships of organisms to one another & their surroundings.”

Charles J. Kreb defined, “Ecology is the scientific study of the interactions that determine the abundance & distribution of organisms.”

Sub-divisions of Ecology:

Two major subdivisions of ecology are –

i) Autecology

  • It is study of individual organisms or individual species with relation to their environment. 
  • In Autecology, the unit of study is individual species.
  • Also called species ecology.

[Species: It is a group of organisms which can interbreed and produce fertile offspring. A species shares a common gene pool.]

ii) Synecology

  • It is study of groups of organisms associated together as a unit, with relation to its environment.
  • In Synecology, the unit of study is groups of organisms.
  • Also called community ecology.

[Community: Includes all the populations occupying a given area.]

[Population: Group of organisms of a species occupying a particular area at a particular time]

Some important branches of ecology:

  1. Habitat Ecology: Based on nature of habitat. It includes freshwater ecology, marine ecology, desert ecology, forest ecology, grassland ecology etc.
  2. Population Ecology: Studies structure & dynamics of populations. [Population: Group of organisms of a species occupying a particular area at a particular time].
  3. Ecosystem Ecology: Study deals with analysis of ecosystem structurally and functionally.
  4. Conservation Ecology: Deals with preservation & management of our natural resources.  
  5. Production Ecology: Deals with energy flow & nutrient cycling within ecosystems.
  6. Radiation Ecology (Radioecology): Concerned with effects of radioactive materials on both living systems as well as on pathways through which they are dispersed, including dispersal through abiotic environment.
  7. Paleoecology: This branch concerns with ancient organisms or organisms of past & their environments.
  8. Gene Ecology: Studies genetic makeup of species or populations in relation to environment.
  9. Space ecology: Concerned with development of ecosystem for supporting life especially human life in outer space.
  10. Chemical Ecology: Examines role of chemical interactions between living organisms & their environment.
  11. Human Ecology: Study of relationships between humans & their environment.

Scope of Ecology

Why we need ecology?

Why we need to know relationships among organisms & also with their environment?

Ecology has its significant importance in almost every important sector.

  1. It is of great importance in fields of agriculture, forestry, wildlife, public health, animal husbandry, climatology, geology etc.
  2. It provides valuable guidance for conservation of natural resources & related national affairs.
  3. It helps in tackling environmental problems like pollution, greenhouse effect etc.
  4. It helps in broadening our knowledge about biochemical cycles.
  5. It helps in protection of flora & fauna.
  6. It helps in maintaining balance in nature. etc.

Harjeet Kaur

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