The sun is the source of energy for all living things in our environment. That is, for those organisms that live on or near the surface of the world, in the sunlight. The sunlight is converted into food energy by plants. Plants and eaten by animals. Animals eat other animals. Fungus eat the decaying plants and animals. All of this begins with sunlight.
There is, however, another environment distance and unconnected to our own. It is deep in the oceans, far from sunlight. It is a different environment and derives it source of energy from volcanic vents in the sea-floor. The sources of energy there are high-energy chemical compounds released though those vents and the heat of the venting.
British zoologist Charles Elton, whose field research emphasized the study of populations in the wild, was perhaps the most influential figure. Elton’s work, often involving northern fur-bearing animals of commercial value, made a number of concepts part of the naturalist’s vocabulary, including the ecological niche, the food chain, and the pyramid of numbers, that is, the decrease in numbers of individual organisms, or total quantity (weight) of organisms, at each successive stage in a food chain, from plants and plant-eating animals at the bottom to large carnivores at the top. Just as with plant ecology, diverse schools of animal ecology emerged in Europe and the United States during the first half of the twentieth century. Some schools, like Elton’s, focused on empirical studies of predator prey interactions and population fluctuations, others focused on animal community organization, still others on broader patterns of distribution and abundance.
The definition of ecology is also called “human ecology” which is the study of human beings and how they impact the earth. This involves everything from their social status to their physical conditions and the environment they live in. These studies also involve how society has greatly reduced the amount of natural resources and how this will have a drastic effect on future generations. The more that is learned about human ecology the easier it will be to come up with solutions to the problems that now exist.
Through the years humanity has learned that being eco friendly is vital to future generations. Today’s society must pay more attention to conserving the natural resources or there will be nothing left for your grand children or their children. By learning the definition of ecology, you are learning how everything the human race does has an effect on the environment. So far, most of these effects have been bad and took its toil on the earth.
Studying ecology is very important, because a simple change in the environment can have a profound effect on all living things; the destruction of one species can mean the death of many others. We cannot continue to harm our environment due to a poor understanding of ecology. So the more we know, the better. For example, humans continue to destroy wildlife habitats in order to build cities; we introduce contaminants such as pesticides and industrial wastes into the environment; and we deplete nonrenewable natural resources such as fossil fuels. These behaviors, if unchanged, could someday render the Earth uninhabitable. Thankfully, there is a movement to better understand ecology and take necessary steps to reduce pollution and end other destructive human activities.
The study of ecology is something of utmost importance to our society, because it has implications in how we chose to live sustainably and because understanding the environment can empower a generation to demand and instigate change from policymakers.
As a society we should hope that everyone takes the time to learn a little bit of ecology, as it is only with fundamental knowledge of how the earth’s systems function that individuals can hope to make responsible choices regarding our environment. Ecology has the power to influence even trivial day-to-day decisions. Understanding how food webs and trophic levels work may change the way we think about nutrition and sustainable eating. Knowing the limits and repercussions of using fossil fuels as an energy source could mean that more people will carpool or ride their bikes. Ecology relies heavily on looking at cause and effect relationships within an ecosystem; by understanding the effects we have on our surroundings we can make more informed choices. Limiting our impact on the environment truly starts from the ground up, and it is these small personal decisions that sum to make a big difference.