We explain what ecology is and what are the branches of the study of this science. Also, what is environmental protection?


Ecology studies the interaction of living beings with the environment in which they are found.

What is ecology?

Ecology is the branch of biology that is dedicated to the study of living beings and their relationship with the environment they inhabit. In addition, ecology studies the abundance and distribution of living beings that exist in a given area or region.

Biotic factors, which are all living organisms, are taken into account as study factors within this discipline; and abiotic factors, such as climate and soils.

This type of interaction can be studied according to the scales or levels of organization of the individuals:

  • Single study. Study each organism with the environment that surrounds it.
  • Population study. Study of the interrelation of living beings belonging to the same species.
  • Study of communities. Study of the relationship between different populations that inhabit the same area.
  • Ecosystem study. Study of communities and their interaction with the environment that surrounds them.
  • Study of the biosphere. Study of all living beings in general.

history of ecology

Ecology evolved from the studies of some Ancient Greek thinkers, such as Aristotle and Theophrastus (considered by some to be the father of botany ). With the fall of the Greco-Roman civilization, the field of natural sciences suffered a certain stagnation. Studies in this area became relevant again only in the 18th and 19th centuries when the importance of studying living beings and the interactions between them and the environment they inhabit was discovered. In 1789, Gilbert White wrote The Selborne Natural History, a book for which the naturalist is considered the first ecologist in England.

Although the history of this science begins in Ancient Greece, the term “ecology” was formally created in 1869 by the German naturalist Ernst Haeckel, who defined it as “that science that studies the relationships between living beings and their environment”. The term ecology comes from the Greek words Oikos (“home”) and logos (“study”).

Some of the scientists and naturalists who with their contributions marked the way for the development of this branch of biology were:

  • Carles Linnaeus (also called Carl von Linné). Swedish scientist is known as the father of taxonomy, a discipline through which all known living things could be classified.
  • Alexander Freiherr von Humboldt. German naturalist who in his explorations of the American continent collected and related information on the climate, natural resources, flora, and fauna.
  • Karl Mobius. German zoologist who conducted pioneering research in marine biology, and described the interactions between organisms in aquatic environments.
  • Charles Darwin. English naturalist who put forward the theory of evolution by natural selection. This theory constituted the bases of modern ecology since it proposes the mechanisms that explain the ability to live beings to adapt to different environments.

What are the branches of ecology?


Microbial ecology is the one that deals with the study of microorganisms.

The ecology features a large number of branches. Among the most important are:

  • Microbial ecology. It focuses on the study of microorganisms in their habitat. This branch has allowed the discovery of some fundamental facts, such as, that the activity of microorganisms in the terrestrial ecosystem is the cause of the soil being fertile.
  • Landscape ecology. It involves the interrelation of two great sciences: geography and biology. The study is based on the observation of landscapes in a natural way and the transformations that the action of the human being produces in them.
  • Recreation ecology. It analyzes the relationship between man and the environment, taking the human being always in a recreation context. In this way, specific sites destined for recreation such as trails, corridors, games, and dispersion areas are put as an object of study.
  • Population ecology. It studies the set of living beings of the same species that inhabit the same space at the same time. Demography also comes into play here, a science that deals with the study of populations of the same species, which analyzes and takes into account factors such as the number of members, distribution by sex and age, birth and mortality rates, among other indicators. of population.
  • evolutionary ecology. It is based on the study of the same population over time, which is why it is essential to evaluate the different transformations and changes that occur in it as a result of different influencing factors.
  • Social ecology. It involves questions of the order of philosophy since it studies the behavior of living beings as part of a group in a certain area.
  • Human ecology. It studies the human being and the relationship with his natural and social environment.
  • culture ecology. It studies the relationships between a society and its environment.
  • Mathematical ecology. Studies organisms and their relationship with their environment by applying theorems and mathematical formulas.
  • Urban ecology. It studies the interactions between the inhabitants of a city and the environment that surrounds it.
  • Dendroecology. It studies the growth rings of trees and uses the information stored in them to evaluate the impact of different environmental conditions on tree growth.

Importance of ecology

The greatest achievement of the study of ecology is that it allows us to know the fundamental connections that exist between organisms and the abiotic factors that make up the environment.

Over time, it was discovered that preserving these connections is critical to maintaining balance in ecosystems. Knowing these relationships allows us to take care of the environment, consciously manage natural resources and take measures to anticipate the environmental impact.

Ecology is a very complete and interdisciplinary branch of biology since it uses tools from many sciences to reveal the characteristics of the environment.

In recent decades, ecology has gained relevance due to the remarkable consequences of the impact of human activities on the environment.

Auxiliary sciences of ecology

Over the years, ecology has been using techniques, tools, and data from other sciences to develop its study. Among the most significant are:

  • Geography. Ecology uses geography to learn about the different reliefs and how living beings are distributed in ecosystems.
  • Mathematics. Ecology uses mathematical techniques and theorems that help in the demographic study of populations.
  • Physics and Chemistry. Ecology studies the transfer of energy between the different components (biotic and abiotic) of ecosystems. In addition, chemistry provides notions about the composition of the matter that constitutes living beings and abiotic factors.
  • Geology. Ecology uses the study of soils and the internal structure of the Earth and its processes to understand biomes.
  • Climatology and Meteorology. Ecology analyzes the variations in the climates of each ecosystem and the impact on its biodiversity.

Environmental Protection


Environmentalists promote the use of recyclable materials.

The environment is made up of biotic factors (living things) and abiotic factors (non-living components). Since greater awareness was generated about the effects produced by abrupt changes in the environment as a result of pollution, ecology has been on the political agenda of all States.

To maintain the balance of our planet, positive changes must occur in the way in which human beings relate to the surrounding ecosystem.

This is the axis of many international groups and environmental associations that help defend the environment through direct actions. While these organizations make denunciations at a planetary level, some states sign international treaties in favor of more efficient industrial production that does not entail dangers for natural resources or the life of communities.

Caring for the environment must come from public policies with laws and regulations, but also from each particular individual, co, company, and organization. Some actions can be taken to reduce the environmental impact of homes, for example:

  • Separate trash.
  • Do not throw waste on public roads or in nature.
  • Turn off lights and unplug electronics that are not being used.
  • Limit the use of running water in the shower and when brushing your teeth.
  • Use public transportation or bicycles instead of cars.
  • Plant a tree on the balcony or in the garden.
  • Limit the consumption of products wrapped in plastic.
  • Use cloth bags when shopping.

Ecology and environmentalism

Ecology is studied by ecologists, who are scientists who study the processes and relationships in the environment. Therefore, an ecologist is different from an ecologist.

From the second half of the 20th century, due to the impact of man’s actions on nature, groups, and people called ecologists have appeared. They are part of movements and social and civil organizations whose goal is the preservation of the environment and sustainable development.

Environmentalism transmits its messages through campaigns and mobilizations of awareness to the population with the objective, in addition, that these messages reach the political and economic spheres. They seek to promote the balance of the human being with the ecosystem that surrounds it since man is part of it and not its owner.

Environmentalism fights against practices, economic activities, and entrenched customs that put biodiversity at risk, for example, nuclear tests, deforestation, indiscriminate fishing, indiscriminate use of plastics, and misuse of natural resources.


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