Every organism depends on living and non-living things to survive. Ecology is the branch of science that examines the relationships organisms have to each other and to their environment. Scientists who study those relationships are called ecologists.
There are many different ways to study ecology. Some types are landscape ecology, population ecology, and behavioral ecology.
Landscape ecology deals with spatial distribution, patterns, and behaviors across large geographical areas. Landscape ecologists might study the impact of development on a particular species of native grass in a specific area. One type of grass may be resistant to chemicals, for example, indicating the area would be ideal for agricultural development.
Population ecology studies the rise and fall in the number of a species. A population ecologist may compare the population of a species near a new food source to a population that lacks access to that food source. The new food source may increase the numbers of the species, or, if the food source is contaminated, reduce it.
Behavioral ecology studies the different ways organisms evolve and adapt to changes in their habitat. Behavioral ecologists often study mating patterns, or what characteristics male and female animals prefer when seeking to reproduce. Behavioral ecologists study bird songs or plumage as they relate to mating patterns, for example.
When ecologists study a particular animal, they examine what the animals food sources are, how it reproduces, what its predators might be, and the characteristics of its habitat. They also study how the animal lives in that habitat, including migrations, shelter, population, and how the species interacts with other animals and plants in its habitat.
Deep ecology is a new area of study. Deep ecology proposes that human beings function as a part of the environment, not in opposition to it. Unlike most branches of ecology, deep ecology does not rely on the scientific method of asking a question, proposing a hypothesis, and testing that hypothesis by observation and experimentation. Deep ecology has more in common with philosophy and political science than other branches of ecology.
Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry adaptation Noun
a modification of an organism or its parts that makes it more fit for existence. An adaptation is passed from generation to generation.
Encyclopedic Entry: adaptation agricultural development Noun
modern farming methods that include mechanical, chemical, engineering and technological methods. Also called industrial agriculture.
anything an organism does involving action or response to stimulation.
behavioral ecology Noun
the study of the different ways organisms adapt their behavior to suit their environment.
physical, cultural, or psychological feature of an organism, place, or object.
deep ecology Noun
the study of human beings as part of the larger environment.
growth, or changing from one condition to another.
Encyclopedic Entry: development ecology Noun
branch of biology that studies the relationship between living organisms and their environment.
Encyclopedic Entry: Types of Ecology environment Noun
conditions that surround and influence an organism or community.
to develop new characteristics based on adaptation and natural selection.
environment where an organism lives throughout the year or for shorter periods of time.
Encyclopedic Entry: habitat landscape ecology Noun
the study of spatial distributions and patterns of organisms across large geographical areas.
mating pattern Noun
behavior and characteristics sought by male and female animals seeking to reproduce.
to move from one place or activity to another.
movement of a group of people or animals from one place to another.
living or once-living thing.
arrangement of people, places, or things across a specific space.
the study of the basic principles of knowledge.
a bird's feathers.
political scientist Noun
person who studies the structure and ideas of government.
population ecology Noun
the study of what contributes to the rise and fall of numbers of a species.
animal that hunts other animals for food.
to create offspring, by sexual or asexual means.
able to withstand the effects of a substance, material, or behavior.
scientific method Noun
method of research in which a question is asked, data are gathered, a hypothesis is made, and the hypothesis is tested.
structure that protects people or other organisms from weather and other dangers.
spatial distribution Noun
how people, places, things, or events are arranged across the Earth.