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Ecology
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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New beech leaves, Grib Forest in the northern part of Denmark
Pictured left: New beech leaves, Grib Forest in the northern part of Denmark

The natural environment encompasses all living and non-living things occurring naturally on Earth or some region thereof. It is an environment that encompasses the interaction of all living species. The natural environment is contrasted with the built environment, which comprises the areas and components that are strongly influenced by humans. A geographical area is regarded as a natural environment. The concept of the natural environment can be distinguished by components:

Earth science generally recognizes 4 spheres, the lithosphere, the hydrosphere, the atmosphere, and the biosphere as correspondent to rocks, water, air, and life. Some scientists include, as part of the spheres of the Earth, the cryosphere (corresponding to ice) as a distinct portion of the hydrosphere, as well as the pedosphere (corresponding to soil) as an active and intermixed sphere. Earth science (also known as geoscience, the geosciences or the Earth Sciences), is an all-embracing term for the sciences related to the planet Earth. There are four major disciplines in earth sciences, namely geography, geology, geophysics and geodesy. These major disciplines use physics, chemistry, biology, chronology and mathematics to build a qualitative and quantitative understanding of the principal areas or spheres of the Earth system.

Biomes are terminologically similar to the concept of ecosystems, and are climatically and geographically defined areas of ecologically similar climatic conditions on the Earth, such as communities of plants, animals, and soil organisms, often referred to as ecosystems. Biomes are defined on the basis of factors such as plant structures (such as trees, shrubs, and grasses), leaf types (such as broadleaf and needleleaf), plant spacing (forest, woodland, savanna), and climate. Unlike ecozones, biomes are not defined by genetic, taxonomic, or historical similarities. Biomes are often identified with particular patterns of ecological succession and climax vegetation.


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Wasp mimicry.jpg
Credit: PLoS, Image Credit: (A, C, E, and F) by Rob Knell; (B and D) by Tom Ings

Wasp mimicry - A and B show real wasps; the rest are mimics: three hoverflies and one beetle. Mimicry is part of the evolutionary process of adaptation.

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Charles Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin (February 12, 1809 – April 19, 1882) FRS was an English naturalist. He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestry, and proposed the scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection.

He published his theory with compelling evidence for evolution in his 1859 book On the Origin of Species, overcoming scientific rejection of earlier concepts of transmutation of species. By the 1870s the scientific community and much of the general public accepted evolution as a fact. However, many favoured competing explanations and it was not until the emergence of the modern evolutionary synthesis from the 1930s to the 1950s that a broad consensus developed that natural selection was the basic mechanism of evolution. In modified form, Darwin's scientific discovery is the unifying theory of the life sciences, explaining the diversity of life.


Did you know...

...chemical ecology is the study of the chemicals involved in the interactions of living organisms? It focuses on the production of and response to signaling molecules (i.e. semiochemicals) and toxins.
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The two most abundant forms of power on earth are solar and wind, and they're getting cheaper and cheaper…
— Ed Begley, Jr.

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Checkerspot was a biannual climate change magazine in Canada published by the Canadian Wildlife Federation. A free magazine, its inaugural issue was launched May 2007 and stopped production in 2009 due to the economic downturn. The Canadian Wildlife Federation, one of Canada’s largest non-profit, non-governmental conservation organizations, works to protect Canada’s wild species and spaces. Checkerspot was used to advance activism on and promote discussions about climate change.

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