Portal:Ecology

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Unique plants in the Ruwenzori Mountains, SW Uganda, Bujuku Valley, at about 12,139 feet (3,700 metre) elevation)
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Ecology, also referred to as ecological science, is the scientific study of the distribution and abundance of living organisms and how the distribution and abundance are affected by interactions between the organisms and their environment. The environment of an organism includes both physical properties, which can be described as the sum of local abiotic factors such as solar insolation, climate and geology, as well as the other organisms that share its habitat. The term Ökologie was coined in 1866 by the German biologist Ernst Haeckel; the word is derived from the Greek οικος (oikos, "household") and λόγος (logos, "study"); therefore "ecology" means the "study of the household (of nature)".

Ecology is also a human science. There are many practical applications of ecology in conservation biology, wetland management, natural resource management (agriculture, forestry, fisheries), city planning (urban ecology), community health, economics, basic and applied science and human social interaction (human ecology)

(Pictured left: Unique plants in the Ruwenzori Mountains, SW Uganda, Bujuku Valley, at about 12,139 feet (3,700 metre) elevation)

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A composite image of oceanic chlorophyll concentrations and differences in terrestrial vegetation
Pictured left: A composite image of oceanic chlorophyll concentrations and differences in terrestrial vegetation

The biosphere is the global sum of all ecosystems. It can also be called the zone of life on Earth, a closed (apart from solar and cosmic radiation) and self-regulating system. From the broadest biophysiological point of view, the biosphere is the global ecological system integrating all living beings and their relationships, including their interaction with the elements of the lithosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere. The biosphere is postulated to have evolved, beginning through a process of biogenesis or biopoesis, at least some 3.5 billion years ago.

In a broader sense; biospheres are any closed, self-regulating systems containing ecosystems; including artificial ones such as Biosphere 2 and BIOS-3; and, potentially, ones on other planets or moons.

Some life scientists and earth scientists use biosphere in a more limited sense. For example, geochemists define the biosphere as being the total sum of living organisms (the "biomass" or "biota" as referred to by biologists and ecologists). In this sense, the biosphere is but one of four separate components of the geochemical model, the other three being lithosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere. The narrow meaning used by geochemists is one of the consequences of specialization in modern science. Some might prefer the word ecosphere, coined in the 1960s, as all encompassing of both biological and physical components of the planet.

Every part of the planet, from the polar ice caps to the Equator, supports life of some kind. Recent advances in microbiology have demonstrated that microbes live deep beneath the Earth's terrestrial surface, and that the total mass of microbial life in so-called "uninhabitable zones" may, in biomass, exceed all animal and plant life on the surface. The actual thickness of the biosphere on earth is difficult to measure. Birds typically fly at altitudes of 650 to 1,800 metres, and fish that live deep underwater can be found down to -8,372 metres in the Puerto Rico Trench.

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Termite mound-Tanzania.jpg
Credit: User:Krokodild

Termite mounds in Tanzania with varied heights of chimneys regulate gas exchange, temperature and other environmental parameters that are needed to sustain the internal physiology of the entire termite colony.

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Odum, Howard T.jpg
Howard Thomas Odum (1924 – 2002) (also known as 'Tom' or 'H.T.') was an American ecologist. He is known for his pioneering work on ecosystem ecology, and for his provocative proposals for additional laws of thermodynamics, informed by his work on general systems theory. Odum was the third child of the American sociologist Howard W. Odum, and the brother of ecologist Eugene Odum.

In 1950 Howard earned his Ph.D. in zoology at Yale University, under the guidance of G. Evelyn Hutchinson. His dissertation was titled The Biogeochemistry of Strontium: With Discussion on the Ecological Integration of Elements. This step took him from his early interest in ornithology and brought him into the emerging field of systems ecology. Through this a meteorologist "analysis of the global circulation of strontium, anticipated in the late 1940s the view of the earth as one great ecosystem."

While at Yale, Howard began his life-long collaborations with his brother Eugene Odum. In 1953, they published the first English-language textbook on systems ecology, Fundamentals of Ecology. Howard wrote the chapter on energetics which introduced his energy circuit language. They continued to collaborate, in research as well as writing, for the rest of their lives. For Howard, his energy systems language (which he called "energese") was itself a collaborative tool.

The Center for Wetlands at the University of Florida, founded in 1973 by Howard T. Odum, is the first of its kind in the world to especially study wetlands. From 1956 to 1963, Odum worked as Director of the Marine Institute of the University of Texas. During this time, he became aware of the interplay of ecological-energetic and economic forces. He then taught at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was in the Department of Zoology, and one of the professors in the new Curriculum of Marine Sciences until his move to the University of Florida in 1970. He then taught at the Environmental Engineering Sciences Department for 26 years until his retirement in 1996. He also started and directed the Center for Environmental Policy at the University of Florida and founded the University's Center for Wetlands in 1973, the first of its kind in the world that is still in operation today.

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Maldivesfish2.jpg
...marine ecosystems are among the largest of Earth's aquatic ecosystems? They include oceans, salt marsh and intertidal ecology, estuaries and lagoons, mangroves and coral reefs, the deep sea and the sea floor. They can be contrasted with freshwater ecosystems, which have a lower salt content.
(Pictured left: Coral reefs form complex marine ecosystems with tremendous biodiversity.)
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If the bee disappeared off the face of the earth, man would only have four years left to live.
— Albert Einstein

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