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Ecology is a broad biological science and can thus be divided into many sub-disciplines using various criteria.

For example, one such categorization, based on overall complexity (from the least complex to the most), is: Behavioral ecology, hich studies the ecological and evolutionary basis for animal behavior, focusing largely at the level of the individual! "opulation ecology (or autecology), hich deals ith the dynamics of populations ithin species, and the interactions of these populations ith environmental factors! #ommunity ecology (or synecology) hich studies the interactions bet een species ithin an ecological community! $cosystem ecology, hich studies ho flo s of energy and matter interact ith biotic elements of ecosystems!

$cology can also be classified on the basis of: the primary %inds of organism under study, e.g. animal ecology, plant ecology, insect ecology! the biomes principally studied, e.g. forest ecology, grassland ecology, desert ecology, benthic ecology! the geographic or climatic area, e.g. arctic ecology, tropical ecology the spatial scale under consideration, e.g. molecular ecology, macroecology, landscape ecology!

&pecialized branches of ecology include, among others: applied ecology, the practice of employing ecological principles and understanding to solve real orld problems (includes agroecology and conservation biology)! biogeography, the study of the geographic distributions of species ! chemical ecology, hich deals ith the ecological role of biological chemicals used in a ide range of areas including defense against predators and attraction of mates! conservation ecology, hich studies ho to reduce the ris% of species extinction! ecological succession, hich focuses on understanding directed vegetation change! ecophysiology hich studies the interaction of physiological traits ith the abiotic environment! ecotoxicology, hich loo%s at the ecological role of toxic chemicals (often pollutants, but also naturally occurring compounds)! evolutionary ecology or ecoevolution hich loo%s at evolutionary changes in the context of the populations and communities in hich the organisms exist! fire ecology, hich loo%s at the role of fire in the environment of plants and animals and its effect on ecological communities! functional ecology, the study of the roles, or functions, that certain species (or groups thereof) play in an ecosystem! global ecology, hich examines ecological phenomena at the largest possible scale, addressing macroecological 'uestions! landscape ecology, hich studies the interactions bet een discrete elements of a landscape! macroecology, the study of large scale phenomena! marine ecology, and a'uatic ecology, here the dominant environmental milieu is ater! microbial ecology, the ecology of micro-organisms! microecology, the study of small scale phenomena! paleoecology, hich see%s to understand the relationships bet een species in fossil assemblages! restoration ecology, hich attempts to understand the ecological basis needed to restore impaired or damaged ecosystems!

theoretical ecology, the development of ecological theory, usually ith mathematical, statistical and(or computer modeling tools! urban ecology, the study of ecosystems in urban areas.

$cology also plays important roles in many inter-disciplinary fields: ecological design and ecological engineering. ecological economics. human ecology and ecological anthropology. social ecology, ecological health and environmental psychology.

Finally, ecology has also inspired (and lent its name to) other non-biological disciplines such as industrial ecology. soft are ecology and information ecology. Ecology is essentially the study of the or%ings of the planet $arth.)) Ecology, or ecological science, is the scientific study of the distribution and abundance of living organisms and ho these properties are affected by interactions bet een the organisms and their environment Behavioral ecology is the study of the ecological and evolutionary basis for animal behavior, and the roles of behavior in enabling an animal to adapt to its environment (both intrinsic and extrinsic). Behavioral ecology emerged from ethology after *i%o +inbergen (a seminal figure in the study of animal behavior), outlined the four causes of behavior. Population ecology is a ma,or subfield of ecology-one that deals ith the dynamics of species populations and ho these populations interact ith the environment. +he older term, autecology refers to the roughly same field of study, coming from the division of ecology into autecology
.

Community ecology is the study of the distribution, abundance, demography, and interactions bet een populations of coexisting species. .t is part of the division of ecology %no n as synecology that studies the organization of ecosystems specifically at the level of the biotic community (or biocoenosis). Ecosystem ecology is the study of the movement of energy and matter through ecosystems. .t is one of the fundamental disciplines of ecology. $cosystem ecology operates at a scale above that of communities but it is defined more by sub,ect matter than by scale. $cosystem ecology deals ith locally defined ecosystems hich exchange matter and energy ith their surroundings. .n ecology, an ecosystem is a naturally occurring assemblage of organisms (plant, animal and other living organismsalso referred to as a biotic community or biocoenosis) living together ith their environment (or biotope), functioning as a loose unit. +he term ecosystem first appeared in a /012 publication by the British ecologist 3rthur +ansley (+ansley, /012). Ecology is essentially the study of the or%ings of the planet $arth.)) Ecology, or ecological science, is the scientific study of the distribution and abundance of living organisms and ho these properties are affected by interactions bet een the organisms and their environment. Forest ecology is the scientific study of patterns and processes in forests. +he management of forests is %no n as forestry. Forest ecology is one branch of a biotically-oriented classification of types of ecological study (as opposed to a classification based on organizational level or complexity (e. .n ecology, desert ecology is the sum of the interactions bet een both biotic and abiotic factors of the desert biomes. +he biotic factors of desert ecology include the interactions of plant, animal, and bacterial populations in a desert community. &ome of the abiotic factors include latitude and longitude, soil, and climate. $ach of these factors have caused adaptations to the particular environment of the region. Molecular ecology is a field of microbiology interested in the presence of certain genes in the environment.

.t stems from the fact that many microorganisms are not easily obtainable as cultured strains in the laboratory, hich ould allo for indentification and characterisation. .t also stems from the development of "#4, hich allo s for rapid amplification of genetic material. ..... . Macroecology is the subfield of ecology hich deals ith the study of relationships bet een organisms and their environment at large spatial scales to characterise and explain statistical patterns of abundance, distribution and diversity. +he term as coined by 5ames Bro n of the 6niversity of *e 7exico and Brian 7aurer of 7ichigan &tate 6niversity in a /080 paper in Science. ..... . Landscape ecology is a subdiscipline of ecology and geography that is the study of spatial variation in interested in the of elements in the landscape (such as fields, hedgero s, oodlots, rivers or to ns) and ho their distribution affects the distribution and flo of energy and individuals in the environment ( hich, in turn, may influence the distribution of the elements themselves). Applied ecology is a subfield ithin ecology hich considers the application of the science of ecology to real- orld (usually management) 'uestions. 3spects of applied ecology include: 4estoration ecology 4angeland management .nvasive species management #onservation biology 9abitat management Biodiversity conservation "rotected areas management 3gro-ecosystem management

Agroecology is the science of applying ecological concepts and principles to the design, development, and management of sustainable agricultural systems. 3groecology loo%s at both the socio-economic impacts and the environmental impacts of agricultural systems, and ta%es a critical vie of modern industrial agricultural tecni'ues. Conservation biology is the study and preservation of habitat for the purpose of conserving biodiversity. +he term :conservation biology: refers to the science and sometimes is used to encompass also the application of this science. .n simple terms, conservation biology is scientific study of the phenomena that affect the maintenance, loss, and restoration of biological diversity. Biogeography is the science hich deals ith 'uestions of species patterns of distribution and the process that resulted in such patterns. +he patterns of species distribution at this level can usually be explained through a combination of historical factors - speciation, extinction, continental Chemical ecology is the study of the chemicals involved in the interactions of living organisms. .t focuses on the production of and response to signaling molecules, toxins, and other organic compounds.

Related fields
3nalytical chemistry Biochemistry $cology ;enetics

Conservation ecology covers a very ide range of sub,ects, basically, any part of ecology that has a bearing on conservation. +he terms Ecology and Conservation are fre'uently used interchangeably, but, although ecologists are fre'uently also conservationists, this does not necessarily have to be the case.

Ecological succession, a fundamental concept in ecology, is the process by hich a natural community moves from a simpler level of organisation to a more complex community. &uccession is a natural process that occurs after some form or disturbance hich simplifies the system. $cological succession is usually differentiated into Ecoto icology is a discipline of ecology, naturally occurring compounds). hich loo%s at the ecological role of toxic chemicals (often pollutants, but also

Pollutants are substances hich directly or indirectly damage us or the environment. 7any of the compounds hich are dangerous to the environment can also be harmful to us in the long-term and come from nuclear-fossil sources, li%e petroleum. "ollutants can cause the destruction of areas of the environment hich are protective to us. Evolutionary ecology lies at the intersection of ecology and evolutionary biology. .t approaches the study of ecology in a ay that explicitly considers the evolutionary histories of species and the interactions bet een them. #onversely, it can be seen as an approach to the study of evolution that incorporates an understanding of the interactions bet een the species under consideration. Fire is a component of the environment. Fire ecology is the study of the interaction of fire ith living things. +he effects of fire are due to a complex combination of:/. the fre'uency of fire <. the intensity of fire 1. the season of fire. +ogether, these variables define a fire regime. Macroecology is the subfield of ecology hich deals ith the study of relationships bet een organisms and their environment at large spatial scales to characterise and explain statistical patterns of abundance, distribution and diversity. +he term as coined by 5ames Bro n of the 6niversity of *e 7exico and Brian 7aurer of 7ichigan &tate 6niversity in a /080 paper in Science. Landscape ecology is a subdiscipline of ecology and geography that is the study of spatial variation in interested in the of elements in the landscape (such as fields, hedgero s, oodlots, rivers or to ns) and ho their distribution affects the distribution and flo of energy and individuals in the environment ( hich, in turn, may influence the distribution of the elements themselves). Landscape can mean: +he layout of a land area, particularly ith respect to its appearance and character. 3 landscape includes such elements as landforms, bodies of ater, flora and fauna, and lighting and eather conditions (the natural elements), as ell as human presence and human-built elements (the cultural elements or built environment).

Macroecology is the subfield of ecology hich deals ith the study of relationships bet een organisms and their environment at large spatial scales to characterise and explain statistical patterns of abundance, distribution and diversity. +he term as coined by 5ames Bro n of the 6niversity of *e 7exico and Brian 7aurer of 7ichigan &tate 6niversity in a /080 paper in Science. Microbial ecology is the relationship of microorganisms ith one another and ith their surroundings. .t concerns both eu%aryotic nucleated cells as ell as pro%aryotic un-nucleated cells. 7icroorganisms, by their omnipresence, impact the entire biosphere. +hey are present in virtually all of our planet=s environments except the most extreme, from acidic la%es to the deepest ocean, and from frozen environments to hydrothermal vents. Paleoecology uses the data of fossils or subfossils to reconstruct the ecosystems of the past. .t includes the study of fossil organisms in terms of their life cycle, their interactions, their natural environment, their manner of death and burial. Paleoecology=s aim is therefore to build Restoration ecology is the scientific discipline of environmental restoration, or returning degraded ecosystems and landscapes to a :reference: state here ecological communities and processes are re-established. +he goals and

ob,ectives of restoration studies and pro,ects are defined by the reference state hich is selected.

Ecology, or ecological science, is the scientific study of the distribution and abundance of living organisms and ho these properties are affected by interactions bet een the organisms and their environment. +he environment of an organism includes both the physical properties, hich can be described as the sum of local abiotic factors li%e climate and geology, as ell as the other organisms that share its habitat. +he term oekologie as coined in /8>> by the ;erman biologist $rnst 9aec%el! the ord is derived from the ;ree% oikos (:household:) and logos (:study:)?therefore, :ecology: means the :study of the household of nature:.

!cope
$cology is usually considered a branch of biology, the general science that studies living beings. @rganisms can be studied at many different levels, from proteins and nucleic acids (in biochemistry and molecular biology), to cells (in cellular biology), to individuals (in botany, zoology, and other similar disciplines), and finally at the level of populations, communities, and ecosystems, to the biosphere as a hole! these latter strata are the primary sub,ects of ecological in'uiries. $cology is a multi-disciplinary science. Because of its focus on the higher levels of the organization of life on earth and on the interrelations bet een organisms and their environment, ecology dra s heavily on many other branches of science, especially geology and geography, meteorology, pedology, chemistry, and physics. +hus, ecology is said to be a holistic science, one that over-arches older disciplines such as biology hich in this vie become subdisciplines contributing to ecological %no ledge. 3griculture, fisheries, forestry, medicine and urban development are among human activites that ould fall ithin Arebbs= (/0B<: C) explanation of his definition of ecology: : here organisms are found, ho many occur there, and hy:. 3s a scientific discipline, ecology does not dictate hat is :right: or : rong:. 9o ever, maintaining biodiversity and related ecological goals have provided a scientific basis for expressing the goals of environmentalism and have given scientific methodology, measure, and terminology to environmental issues. 3dditionally, a holistic vie of nature is stressed in both ecology and environmentalism. #onsider the ays an ecologist might approach studying the life of honeybees: the behavioral relationship bet een individuals of a species is behavorial ecology - for example, the study of the 'ueen bee, and ho she relates to the or%er bees and the drones. +he organized activity of a species is community ecology! for example, the activity of bees assures the pollination of flo ering plants. Bee hives additionally produce honey hich is consumed by still other species, such as bears. +he relationship bet een the environment and a species is environmental ecology - for example, the conse'uences of environmental change on bee activity. Bees may die out due to environmental changes (see pollinator decline). +he environment simultaneously affects and is a conse'uence of this activity and is thus intert ined ith the survival of the species.

"isciplines of ecology
Main article: Disciplines of ecology $cology is a broad science hich can be subdivided into ma,or and minor sub-disciplines. +he ma,or sub-disciplines include (in a nested series from the smallest to the largest in scope): "hysiological $cology (or ecophysiology), hich studies the influence of the biotic and abiotic environment on the physiology of the individual, and the adaptation of the individual to its environment! Behavioral ecology, hich studies the ecological and evolutionary basis for animal behavior, and the roles of behavior in enabling animals to adapt to their ecological niches!

"opulation ecology (or autecology), hich deals ith the dynamics of populations ithin species, and the interactions of these populations ith environmental factors! #ommunity ecology (or synecology) hich studies the interactions bet een species ithin an ecological community! Dandscape ecology, hich studies the interactions bet een discrete elements of a landscape! $cosystem ecology, hich studies the flo s of energy and matter through ecosystems! ;lobal ecology, hich loo%s at ecological 'uestions at the global level, often as%ing macroecological 'uestions.

$cology can also be sub-divided on the basis of target groups: 3nimal ecology, plant ecology, insect ecology!

$cology can also be sub-divided from the perspective of the studied biomes: 3rctic ecology (or polar ecology), tropical ecology, desert ecology (temperate zone ecology could also exist as a distinct sub-field, but ecology as a hole has an over helmingly temperate bias, so the sub-field is redundant). &panning all of the above is: $volutionary ecology.

#istory of ecology
Main article: History of ecology

Fundamental principles of ecology


Biosphere and biodiversity
Main articles: Biosphere, Biodiversity, 6nified neutral theory of biodiversity For modern ecologists, ecology can be studied at several levels: population level (individuals of the same species), biocoenosis level (or community of species), ecosystem level, and biosphere level. +he outer layer of the planet $arth can be divided into several compartments: the hydrosphere (or sphere of ater), the lithosphere (or sphere of soils and roc%s), and the atmosphere (or sphere of the air). +he biosphere (or sphere of life), sometimes described as :the fourth envelope:, is all living matter on the planet or that portion of the planet occupied by life. .t reaches ell into the other three spheres, although there are no permanent inhabitants of the atmosphere. 4elative to the volume of the $arth, the biosphere is only the very thin surface layer hich extends from //,EEE meters belo sea level to /2,EEE meters above. .t is thought that life first developed in the hydrosphere, at shallo depths, in the photic zone. 7ulticellular organisms then appeared and colonized benthic zones. +errestrial life developed later, after the ozone layer protecting living beings from 6F rays formed. Giversification of terrestrial species is thought to be increased by the continents drifting apart, or alternately, colliding. Biodiversity is expressed at the ecological level (ecosystem), population level (intraspecific diversity), species level (specific diversity), and genetic level. 4ecently technology has allo ed the discovery of the deep ocean vent communities. +his remar%able ecological system is not dependant on sunlight but bacteria, utilising the chemistry of the hot volcanic vents, are at the base of its food chain. +he biosphere contains great 'uantities of elements such as carbon, nitrogen and oxygen. @ther elements, such as phosphorus, calcium, and potassium, are also essential to life, yet are present in smaller amounts. 3t the ecosystem and biosphere levels, there is a continual recycling of all these elements, hich alternate bet een the mineral and organic states. Hhile there is a slight input of geothermal energy, the bul% of the functioning of the ecosystem is based on the input of solar energy. "lants and photosynthetic microorganisms convert light into chemical energy by the process of photosynthesis, hich creates glucose (a simple sugar) and releases free oxygen. ;lucose thus becomes the secondary energy source hich drives the ecosystem. &ome of this glucose is used directly by other organisms for energy. @ther sugar molecules can be converted to other molecules such as amino acids. "lants use some of this sugar, concentrated in nectar to entice pollinators to aid them in reproduction.

#ellular respiration is the process by hich organisms (li%e mammals) brea% the glucose bac% do n into its constituents, ater and carbon dioxide, thus regaining the stored energy the sun originally gave to the plants. +he proportion of photosynthetic activity of plants and other photosynthesizers to the respiration of other organisms determines the specific composition of the $arth=s atmosphere, particularly its oxygen level. ;lobal air currents mix the atmosphere and maintain nearly the same balance of elements in areas of intense biological activity and areas of slight biological activity. Hater is also exchanged bet een the hydrosphere, lithosphere, atmosphere and biosphere in regular cycles. +he oceans are large tan%s, hich store ater, ensure thermal and climatic stability, as ell as the transport of chemical elements than%s to large oceanic currents. For a better understanding of ho the biosphere or%s, and various dysfunctions related to human activity, 3merican scientists simulated the biosphere in a small-scale model, called Biosphere ...

$he ecosystem concept


Main article: $cosystem +he first principle of ecology is that each living organism has an ongoing and continual relationship ith every other element that ma%es up its environment. 3n ecosystem can be defined as any situation here there is interaction bet een organisms and their environment. +he ecosystem is composed of t o entities, the entirety of life (called the biocoenosis) and the medium that life exists in (the biotope). Hithin the ecosystem, species are connected and dependent upon one another in the food chain, and exchange energy and matter bet een themselves and ith their environment. +he concept of an ecosystem can apply to units of variable size, such as a pond, a field, or a piece of dead ood. 3 unit of smaller size is called a microecosystem. For example, an ecosystem can be a stone and all the life under it. 3 mesoecosystem could be a forest, and a macroecosystem a hole ecoregion, ith its atershed. +he main 'uestions hen studying an ecosystem are: 9o could the colonization of a barren area be carried outI Hhat are the ecosystems dynamics and changes 9o does an ecosystem interact at local, regional and global scale .s the current state stableI Hhat is the value of an ecosystemI 9o does the interaction of ecological systems provide benefit to humans, especially in the provision of healthy aterI

$cosystems are often classified by reference to the biotopes concerned. +he follo ing ecosystems may be defined: 3s continental ecosystems (or terrestrial), such as forest ecosystems, meado ecosystems (meado s, steppes, savannas), or agro-ecosystems (agricultural systems). 3s ecosystems of inland aters, such as lentic ecosystems (la%es, ponds) or lotic ecosystems (rivers) 3s oceanic ecosystems (seas, oceans).

3nother classification can be done by reference to its communities (for example a human ecosystem).

"ynamics and stability


Main articles: biogeochemistry, 9omeostasis, "opulation dynamics Ecological factors hich can affect dynamic change in a population or species in a given ecology or environment are usually divided into t o groups: abiotic and biotic. Abiotic factors are geological, geographical, hydrological and climatological parameters. 3 biotope is an environmentally uniform region characterized by a particular set of abiotic ecological factors. &pecific abiotic factors include: Hater, hich is at the same time an essential element to life and a milieu 3ir, hich provides oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide to living species and allo s the dissemination of pollen and spores

&oil, at the same time source of nutriment and physical support o &oil p9, salinity, nitrogen and phosphorus content, ability to retain ater, and density are all influential o +emperature, hich should not exceed certain extremes, even if tolerance to heat is significant for some species o Dight, hich provides energy to the ecosystem through photosynthesis o *atural disasters can also be considered abiotic

Biocenose, or community, is a group of populations of plants, animals, micro-organisms. $ach population is the result of procreations bet een individuals of same species and cohabitation in a given place and for a given time. Hhen a population consists of an insufficient number of individuals, that population is threatened ith extinction! the extinction of a species can approach hen all biocenoses composed of individuals of the species are in decline. .n small populations, consanguinity (inbreeding) can result in reduced genetic diversity that can further ea%en the biocenose. Biotic ecological factors also influence biocenose viability! these factors are considered as either intraspecific and interspecific relations. %ntraspecific relations are those hich are established bet een individuals of the same species, forming a population. +hey are relations of co-operation or competition, ith division of the territory, and sometimes organization in hierarchical societies.

%nterspecific relations- interactions bet een different species-are numerous, and usually described according to their beneficial, detrimental or neutral effect (for example, mutualism (relation JJ) or competition (relation --)). +he most significant relation is the relation of predation (to eat or to be eaten), hich leads to the essential concepts in ecology of food chains (for example, the grass is consumed by the herbivore, itself consumed by a carnivore, itself consumed by a carnivore of larger size). 3 high predator to prey ratio can have a negative influence on both the predator and prey biocenoses in that lo availability of food and high death rate prior to sexual maturity can decrease (or prevent the increase of) populations of each, respectively. &elective hunting of species by humans hich leads to population decline is one example of a high predator to prey ratio in action. @ther interspecific relations include parasitism, infectious disease and competition for limiting resources, hich can occur hen t o species share the same ecological niche. +he existing interactions bet een the various living beings go along ith a permanent mixing of mineral and organic substances, absorbed by organisms for their gro th, their maintenance and their reproduction, to be finally re,ected as aste. +hese permanent recyclings of the elements (in particular carbon, oxygen and nitrogen) as ell as the ater are called biogeochemical cycles. +hey guarantee a durable stability of the biosphere (at least hen unchec%ed human influence and extreme eather or geological phenomena are left aside). +his self-regulation, supported by negative feedbac% controls, ensures the perenniality of the ecosystems. .t is sho n by the very stable concentrations of most elements of each compartment. +his is referred to as homeostasis. +he ecosystem also tends to evolve to a state of ideal balance, reached after a succession of events, the climax (for example a pond can become a peat bog).

!patial relationships and subdivisions of land


Main articles: Biome, ecozone $cosystems are not isolated from each other, but are interrelated. For example, ater may circulate bet een ecosystems by the means of a river or ocean current. Hater itself, as a li'uid medium, even defines ecosystems. &ome species, such as salmon or fresh ater eels move bet een marine systems and fresh- ater systems. +hese relationships bet een the ecosystems lead to the concept of a biome. 3 biome is a homogeneous ecological formation that exists over a vast region, such as tundra or steppes. +he biosphere comprises all of the $arth=s biomes -- the entirety of places here life is possible -- from the highest mountains to the depths of the oceans. Biomes correspond rather ell to subdivisions distributed along the latitudes, from the e'uator to ards the poles, ith differences based on to the physical environment (for example, oceans or mountain ranges) and to the climate. +heir variation is generally related to the distribution of species according to their ability to tolerate temperature and(or dryness. For example, one may find photosynthetic algae only in the photic part of the ocean ( here light penetrates), hile conifers are mostly found in mountains. +hough this is a simplification of more complicated scheme, latitude and altitude approximate a good representation of the distribution of biodiversity ithin the biosphere. Fery generally, the richness of biodiversity (as ell for animal than

plant species) is decreasing most rapidly near the e'uator (as in Brazil) and less rapidly as one approaches the poles. +he biosphere may also be divided into ecozone, hich are very ell defined today and primarily follo the continental borders. +he ecozones are themselves divided into ecoregions, though there is not agreement on their limits.

Ecosystem productivity
.n an ecosystem, the connections bet een species are generally related to food and their role in the food chain. +here are three categories of organisms: Producers -- plants hich are capable of photosynthesis Consumers -- animals, hich can be primary consumers (herbivorous), or secondary or tertiary consumers (carnivorous). Decomposers -- bacteria, mushrooms hich degrade organic matter of all categories, and restore minerals to the environment.

+hese relations form se'uences, in hich each individual consumes the preceding one and is consumed by the one follo ing, in hat are called food chains or food net or%. .n a food net or%, there ill be fe er organisms at each level as one follo s the lin%s of the net or% up the chain. +hese concepts lead to the idea of biomass (the total living matter in a given place), of primary productivity (the increase in the mass of plants during a given time) and of secondary productivity (the living matter produced by consumers and the decomposers in a given time). +hese t o last ideas are %ey, since they ma%e it possible to evaluate the load capacity -- the number of organisms hich can be supported by a given ecosystem. .n any food net or%, the energy contained in the level of the producers is not completely transferred to the consumers. +hus, from an energy point of vie , it is more efficient for humans to be primary consumers (to get nourishment from grains and vegetables) than as secondary consumers (from herbivores such as beef and veal), and more still than as a tertiary consumer (from eating carnivores). +he productivity of ecosystems is sometimes estimated by comparing three types of land-based ecosystems and the total of a'uatic ecosystems: +he forests (/(1 of the $arth=s land area) contain dense biomasses and are very productive. +he total production of the orld=s forests corresponds to half of the primary production. &avannas, meado s, and marshes (/(1 of the $arth=s land area) contain less dense biomasses, but are productive. +hese ecosystems represent the ma,or part of hat humans depend on for food. $xtreme ecosystems in the areas ith more extreme climates -- deserts and semi-deserts, tundra, alpine meado s, and steppes -- (/(1 of the $arth=s land area) have very sparse biomasses and lo productivity Finally, the marine and fresh ater ecosystems (1(C of $arth=s surface) contain very sparse biomasses (apart from the coastal zones).

9umanity=s actions over the last fe centuries have seriously reduced the amount of the $arth covered by forests (deforestation), and have increased agro-ecosystems (agriculture). .n recent decades, an increase in the areas occupied by extreme ecosystems has occurred (desertification).

Ecological crisis
;enerally, an ecological crisis is hat occurs hen the environment of life of a species or a population evolves in an unfavourable ay to its survival. .t may be that the environment 'uality degrades compared to the species needs, after a change of abiotic ecological factor (for example, an increase of temperature, less significant rainfalls). .t may be that the environment becomes unfavourable for the survival of a species (or a population) due to an increase pressure of predation (for example overfishing). Dastly, it may be that the situation becomes unfavourable to the 'uality of life of the species (or the population) due to rise in the number of individuals (overpopulation). $cological crises may be more or less brutal (occurring bet een a fe months to a fe million years). +hey can also be of natural or anthropic origin. +hey may relate to one uni'ue species or on the contrary, to a high number of species (see the article on $xtinction event). Dastly, an ecological crisis may be local (as an oil spill) or global (a rise in the sea level related to global arming).

3ccording to its degree of endemism, a local crisis ill have more or less significant conse'uences, from the death of many individuals to the total extinction of a species. Hhatever its origin, disappearance of one or several species often ill involve a rupture in the food chain, further impacting the survival of other species. .n the case of a global crisis, the conse'uences can be much more significant! some extinction events sho ed the disappearance of more than 0EK of existing species at that time. 9o ever, it should be noted that the disappearance of certain species, such as the dinosaurs, by freeing an ecological niche, allo ed the development and the diversification of the mammals. 3n ecological crisis thus paradoxically favored biodiversity. &ometimes, an ecological crisis can be a specific and reversible phenomenon at the ecosystem scale. But more generally, the crises impact ill last. .ndeed, it rather is a connected series of events, that occur till a final point. From this stage, no return to the previous stable state is possible, and a ne stable state ill be set up gradually (see homeorhesy). Dastly, if an ecological crisis can cause extinction, it can also more simply reduce the 'uality of life of the remaining individuals. +hus, even if the diversity of the human population is sometimes considered threatened (see in particular indigenous people), fe people envision human disappearance at short span. 9o ever, epidemic diseases, famines, impact on health of reduction of air 'uality, food crises, reduction of living space, accumulation of toxic or non degradable astes, threats on %eystone species (great apes, panda, hales) are also factors influencing the ell-being of people. Guring the past decades, this increasing responsibility of humanity in some ecological crises has been clearly observed. Gue to the increases in technology and a rapidly increasing population, humans have more influence on their o n environment than any other ecosystem engineer. &ome usually 'uoted examples as ecological crises are: "ermian-+riassic extinction event <2E million of years ago #retaceous-+ertiary extinction event >2 million years ago ;lobal arming related to the ;reenhouse effect. Harming could involve flooding of the 3sian deltas (see also ecorefugees), multiplication of extreme eather phenomena and changes in the nature and 'uantity of the food resources (see ;lobal arming and agriculture). &ee also international Ayoto "rotocol. @zone layer hole issue Geforestation and desertification, ith disappearance of many species. +he nuclear meltdo n at #hernobyl in /08> caused the death of many people and animals from cancer, and caused mutations in a large number of animals and people. +he area around the plant is no abandoned because of the large amount of radiation generated by the meltdo n.

&ature (also called the material 'orld, the material universe, the natural 'orld, and the natural universe) is all matter and energy, especially in its essential form. *ature is the sub,ect of scientific study, and the history of the concept is lin%ed to the history of science. Life is a multi-faceted concept. ife may refer to the ongoing process of hich living things are a part, the period bet een the conception (or a point at hich the entity can be considered to be an individualized being) and death of an organism, the condition of an entity that has been %nteraction is a %ind of action hich occurs as t o or more ob,ects have an effect upon one another. +he idea of a t oay effect is essential in the concept of interaction instead of a one- ay causal effect. #ombinations of many simple interactions can lead to surprising emergent phenomena. .t has different tailored meanings in various sciences. +he natural environment comprises all living and non-living things that occur naturally on $arth. .n its purest sense, it is thus an environment that is not the result of human activity or intervention. +he natural environment may be contrasted to :the built environment.:

+he climate (ancient ;ree%: !"#$%) is the eather averaged over a long period of time. +he .ntergovernmental "anel on #limate #hange (."##) glossary definition is: Climate in a narro& sense is usually defined as the 'average

(eology (from ;ree% LM- (ge-, :the earth:) and NOLOP (logos, : ord:, :reason:)) is the science and study of the $arth, its composition, structure, physical properties, history, and the processes that shape it. .t is one of the $arth sciences. ;eologists have helped establish the age of the $arth at about C. #abitat (from the Datin for :it inhabits:) is the place here a particular species lives and gro s. .t is essentially the environment-at least the physical environment-that surrounds (influences and is utilized by) a species population. He use :species population: instead of :organism:

Biology is the study, or science, of life. .t is concerned ith the characteristics and behaviors of organisms, ho species and individuals come into existence, and the interactions they have ith each other and ith the environment. Biology encompasses a broad spectrum of academic fields that are often vie ed as independent disciplines. 9o ever, together they address the phenomenon of life over a ide range of scales. .n biology and ecology, an organism (in ;ree% organon Q instrument) is a complex adaptive system of organs that influence each other in such a ay that they function as a more or less stable hole and have properties of life. +he origin of life and the relationships bet een its ma,or lineages are controversial. 3 nucleic acid is a complex, high-molecular- eight biochemical macromolecule composed of nucleotide chains that convey genetic information. +he most common nucleic acids are deo yribonucleic acid (G*3) and ribonucleic acid (4*3). *ucleic acids are found in all living cells and viruses. Biochemistry the chemistry of life, a bridge bet een biology and chemistry that studies ho complex chemical reactions give rise to life. .t is a hybrid branch of chemistry hich specialises in the chemical processes in living organisms. +his article only discusses terrestrial biochemistry (carbon- and ater-based), as all the life forms e %no are on $arth. Molecular biology is the study of biology at a molecular level. +he field overlaps ith other areas of biology and chemistry, particularly genetics and biochemistry. 7olecular biology chiefly concerns itself ith understanding the interactions bet een the various systems of a cell, including the interrelationship of G*3, 4*3 and protein synthesis and learning ho these interactions are regulated. cell is the structural and functional unit of all living organisms, and are sometimes called the :building bloc%s of life.: &ome organisms, such as bacteria, are unicellular, consisting of a single cell. @ther organisms, such as humans, are multicellular, (humans have an estimated /EE,EEE billion or /E /C cells). (or other meanings) see *otany +disambiguation,

Botany is the scientific study of plant life. 3s a branch of biology, it is also sometimes referred to as plant science)s* or plant biology. Botany covers a ide range of scientific disciplines that study the gro th, reproduction, metabolism, development, diseases, and evolution of plants. +oology (;ree% zoon Q animal and logos Q ord) is the biological discipline hich involves the study of animals.

#istory of ,oology
Main articles: 9istory of zoology (before Gar in), 9istory of zoology (since Gar in)

Branches of biology relevant to ,oology

population is the collection of people-or organisms of a particular species-living in a given geographic area. "opulation is studied in a ide variety of ays and disciplines. .n population dynamics, size, age and sex structure, mortality, reproductive behaviour, and gro th of a population are studied. .n ecology, an ecosystem is a naturally occurring assemblage of organisms (plant, animal and other living organismsalso referred to as a biotic community or biocoenosis) living together ith their environment (or biotope), functioning as a loose unit.

+he term ecosystem first appeared in a /012 publication by the British ecologist 3rthur +ansley (+ansley, /012). biosphere is that part of a planet=s outer shell-including air, land, surface roc%s and ater- ithin hich life occurs, and hich biotic processes in turn alter or transform. From the broadest geophysiological point of vie , the biosphere is the global ecological system integrating +he natural environment comprises all living and non-living things that occur naturally on $arth. .n its purest sense, it is thus an environment that is not the result of human activity or intervention. +he natural environment may be contrasted to :the built environment.: For some, there (eology (from ;ree% LM- (ge-, :the earth:) and NOLOP (logos, : ord:, :reason:)) is the science and study of the $arth, its composition, structure, physical properties, history, and the processes that shape it. .t is one of the $arth sciences. ;eologists have helped establish the age of the $arth at about C. (eography is the study of the locational and spatial variation of both natural and human phenomena on $arth. +he ord derives from the ;ree% ords -. or -/0% (:$arth:) and -1%2/03 (:to describe: and :to rite:). Meteorology is the scientific study of the atmosphere that focuses on eather processes and forecasting. 7eteorological phenomena are observable eather events hich illuminate and are explained by the science of meteorology. +hose events are bound by the variables that exist in $arth=s atmosphere. Pedology (pRdS=lTgy), (from 4ussian: pedologiya, from the ;ree% pedon Q soil, earth), is the study of soils and soil formation. .t is the branch of soil science that deals ith soil genesis, morphology, classification and distribution. &oil is not only Chemistry (derived from the 3rabic ord chemia, alchemy, here al is 3rabic for the) is the science of matter that deals ith the composition, structure, and properties of substances and ith the transformations that they undergo. .n the study of matter, chemistry also investigates its interactions ith energy and itself (see physics, biology). Physics (from the ;ree%, UVWXYZP (physikos), :natural:, and U[WXP (physis), :nature:) is the science of the natural orld dealing ith the fundamental constituents of the universe, the forces they exert on one another, and the results produced by these forces. Biodiversity or biological diversity is the diversity of and in living nature. +here are a number of definitions and measures of biodiversity.

Etymology
*iodiversity is a neologism and a portmanteau ord, from bio and diversity. +he term biological diversity as coined by +homas Dove,oy in /08E, hile the ord biodiversity itself as coined by the entomologist $.