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Science and Ecology

Ecology refers to the study of relationships which living organisms have with their abiotic environments and also with each other. A few of the main topics which fall under the purview of ecology include distribution, diversity, population, biomass as well as competition between and amongst various ecosystems. Most ecosystems are composed of dynamically interacting parts such as nutrient cycling, pedogenesis, primary production and niche construction activities.

The word ecology was founded in the year 1866 by Ernst Haeckl. However, its foundation stones were laid down way back by Greek Philosophers such as Aristotle and Hippocrates in their studies upon natural history. However, scientific developments and rapid technological advances soon turned ecology into a major science by the late 19th century. The study is also closely related to genetics, ethology and evolutionary biology.

The scope of ecology is also huge and it covers a humongous array of different levels of organizations which span from the planetary scales to the micro level organisms. Ecosystems are extremely dynamic as well and do not follow any linear path. Moreover, they are continually changing, sometimes slowly and sometimes quite rapidly. The area of an ecosystem can also vary from being extremely small to being vast. For example, one tree might not have great value when compared to the ecosystem of the forest but is the prime factor for organisms that live on it.

Ecology is also called a human science. There are numerous practical applications of the subject in wetland management, city planning, natural resource management, applied sciences, basic sciences, economics, conversation biology and community health. The organisms and the resources together constitute the ecosystems. These ecosystems in turn maintain the biophysical feedback mechanisms which moderate the processes that act on the nonliving and living portions of the planet.

There are two major developments which have taken place in the field of ecology which also have great philosophical interest. Both of these developments were made possible due to the tremendous increase in the ease and speed of computation. They are the developments and use of Individual Based Models and the Geographical Information Systems.

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