Answer to Question #21743 in Biochemistry for Tricia
Ecology is an interdisciplinary field that includes biology and Earth science. The word "ecology" ("Ökologie") was coined in 1866 by the German scientist Ernst Haeckel (1834–1919). Ancient Greek philosophers such as Hippocrates and Aristotle laid the foundations of ecology in their studies on natural history. Modern ecology transformed into a more rigorous science in the late 19th century. Evolutionary concepts on adaptation and natural selection became cornerstones of modern ecological theory. Ecology is not synonymous with environment, environmentalism, natural history, or environmental science. It is closely related to evolutionary biology, genetics, and ethology. An understanding of how biodiversity affects ecological function is an important focus area in ecological studies. Ecologists seek to explain:
Life processes and adaptations
Distribution and abundance of organisms
The movement of materials and energy through living communities
The successional development of ecosystems, and
The abundance and distribution of biodiversity in the context of the environment.
Ecology is a human science as well. There are many practical applications of ecology in conservation biology, wetland management, natural resource management (agroecology, agriculture, forestry, agroforestry, fisheries), city planning (urban ecology), community health, economics, basic and applied science, and human social interaction (human ecology). Ecosystems maintain biophysical feedback mechanisms that modulate metabolic rates and evolutionary dynamics between living (biotic) and nonliving (abiotic) components of the planet. Ecosystems sustain life-supporting functions and produce natural capital through the regulation of continental climates, global biogeochemical cycles, water filtration, soils, food, fibres, medicines, erosion control, and many other natural features of scientific, historical, economic, or intrinsic value.
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