Ecology is the scientific analysis and study of interactions among organisms and their environment, such as the interactions organisms have with each other and with their abiotic environment. Organisms 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.
Topics of interest to ecologists include the diversity, distribution, amount (biomass), number (population) of organisms, as well as competition between them within and among ecosystems.
Ecology is an interdisciplinary field that includes Biology and Earth science. Ecology is not synonymous with environment, environmentalism, natural history, or environmental science. It is closely related to evolutionary biology, genetics, and ethology. An understanding of how biodiversity affects ecological function is an important focus area in ecological studies.
Ecologists seek to explain:
- Life processes, interactions and adaptations
- The movement of materials and energy through living communities
- The successional development of ecosystems, and
- The abundance and distribution of organisms and biodiversity in the context of the environment.
There are many practical applications of ecology 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).
If you are interested in pursuing a research degree in Ecology, you can click here to look for potential supervisors.