Subject and object of ecology

Ecology is the biological science of the relationship between living organisms and their environment. This term was proposed in 1866 by the German zoologist Ernst Haeckel. The formation of ecology became possible after extensive information was accumulated about the diversity of living organisms on Earth and the characteristics of their way of life in various habitats, and an understanding arose that the structure, functioning and development of all living beings, their relationship with the environment are subject to certain patterns that needs to be studied.

Ecology studies both the influence of environmental factors on individual organisms and the relationship between living beings, the formation of more complex systems up to the level of the entire biosphere. Despite this, the main object of traditional environmental research can be considered the ecosystems of our planet at different levels of organization (depending on the depth of research) and their elements. The main subject of ecology research is the relationship (their features and development) of living organisms, their groups of various ranks, living and non-living components of ecosystems, as well as the nature of the influence of natural and anthropogenic factors on the functioning of ecosystems and the biosphere as a whole.

The subject of ecology is a structure or set of relationships between the environment and organisms.

The main object of environmental research is the ecosystems of our planet at different levels of organization.

The goal of ecology is to protect the natural environment and vital human interests from the possible negative impact of economic and other activities, natural and man-made emergencies, and their consequences.

The tasks of ecology vary depending on the level of organization of living matter being studied. Population ecology studies the patterns of population dynamics and structure, as well as the processes of interactions (competition, predation) between populations of different species. The tasks of community ecology (biocenology) include the study of the patterns of organization of various communities, or biocenoses, their structure and functioning (circulation of substances and energy transformation in food chains).

Among the tasks of ecology, the priorities are the following:

The study of the general state of the modern biosphere, the conditions for its formation and the causes of changes under the influence of natural and anthropogenic factors;

Forecasting the dynamics of the state of the biosphere in time and space;

Development of ways to harmonize the relationship between society and nature, taking into account the basic environmental laws;

Preservation of the biosphere’s ability to self-purify, self-regulate and self-repair;

Study of the patterns of life organization, including in connection with anthropogenic impacts on natural ecosystems and the biosphere as a whole;

Scientific substantiation of the rational exploitation of natural resources, forecasting changes in nature as a result of human activities and the management of biospheric processes, as well as the preservation of the human environment;

Development of a system of measures to ensure the minimum use of chemical pesticides;

Ecological indication of the properties of certain components of ecosystems, including Indication of pollution of the natural environment;

Restoration of disturbed natural ecosystems, including reclamation of agricultural land taken out of use, restoration of pastures, fertility of depleted soils, productivity of water bodies, etc.;

Preservation (conservation) of reference areas of the biosphere;

Development of technological, engineering and design solutions that minimize damage to the environment and human health;

Forecasting and assessment of possible negative consequences of existing and projected enterprises (technological processes) for the environment, humans, living organisms, various sectors of the economy;

Timely identification and further adjustment of those technological processes that destroy the environment, threaten human health and negatively affect natural ecosystems.

Methods of ecology are divided into field methods (the study of the life of organisms and their communities in natural conditions, i.e., long-term observation in nature using various equipment) and experimental methods (experiments in stationary laboratories, where it is possible not only to vary, but also to strictly control the effect on living organisms of any factors according to a given program.

The method of mathematical modeling is also widely used to study and predict natural processes. Such ecosystem models are built on the basis of numerous data accumulated in field and laboratory conditions. At the same time, correctly constructed mathematical models help to see what is difficult or impossible to verify in an experiment. However, the mathematical model itself cannot serve as an absolute proof of the correctness of a particular hypothesis, but it serves as one of the ways to analyze reality.

Also, with the help of mathematical modeling methods, it is possible to establish the relationship of organisms in ecosystems (food and non-food), the dependence of changes in the number (productivity) of populations on the impact of environmental factors, etc. Mathematical models make it possible to predict possible scenarios, highlight individual relationships, combine them (for example , the number of individuals of commercial animals can be withdrawn from natural populations in order not to reduce their density, to provide for outbreaks of pests, the consequences of anthropogenic impact on individual ecosystems and the biosphere.

In addition to traditional methods, there are new ones . Among them, for example:

A statistical method that allows you to receive, process and analyze primary statistical materials.

The balance method makes it possible to compare natural resources with the rate of use.

The comparative method involves the study of objects by comparison with others. In ecology, polluted ecologically clean territories are often compared.

Relatively simple methods of mathematical statistics are widely used, namely: the processing of variational series with the determination of the mathematical expectation, variance, standard deviation, obtaining intensive and extensive indicators for comparison, etc.

The combination of field and experimental research methods allows the ecologist to find out all aspects of the relationship between living organisms and numerous environmental factors, which will allow not only to restore the dynamic balance of nature, but also to manage ecosystems.

So, modern ecology is one of the fundamental sciences about the relationship between animate and inanimate nature, a new philosophy of mankind, and, like many sciences, it is still at the stage of formation.

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