Scientific study of the relationships between living organisms and their environment
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to ecology:
Ecology – 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 solarinsolation, climate and geology, as well as the other organisms that share its habitat. Also called ecological science.
Essence of ecology
Nature – Natural, physical, or material world and its phenomena, or Natural environment – Living and non-living things on Earth
Ecosystem – Community of living organisms together with the nonliving components of their environment, or Biome – Community of organisms associated with an environment
Subdisciplines of ecology, and subdiscipline classification
Ecology is a broad discipline comprising many subdisciplines. The field of ecology can be subdivided according to several classification schemes:
By methodology used for investigation
Field ecology – Collection of information outside a laboratory, library or workplace setting –
Quantitative ecology – application of advanced mathematical and statistical tools to perform ecological researchPages displaying wikidata descriptions as a fallback –
Theoretical ecology – scientific discipline devoted to the study of ecological systems using theoretical methodsPages displaying wikidata descriptions as a fallback – the development of ecological theory, usually with mathematical, statistical and/or computer modeling tools.
Autecology – ecological study of a single individual, population, or speciesPages displaying wikidata descriptions as a fallback – the study of individual organisms of a single species in relation to their environment;
Synecology – Associated populations of species in a given areaPages displaying short descriptions of redirect targets – the study of homogenous or heterogenous groups of organisms in relation to their environment;
Population ecology – Study of the dynamics of species populations and how these populations interact with the environment – the study of homogenous groups of organisms related as a single species;
Community ecology – Associated populations of species in a given area – the study of heterogenous groups of organisms of multiple associated species;
Ecosystem ecology – Study of living and non-living components of ecosystems and their interactions.
By biological classification or taxon under study
Human ecology – Study of the relationship between humans and their natural, social, and built environments –
Animal ecology – Scientific study of the relationships between living animals and their environment –
Insect ecology – The study of how insects interact with the surrounding environment –
Microbial ecology – Study of the relationship of microorganisms with their environment –
Plant ecology – The study of effect of the environment on the abundance and distribution of plants.
By biome under study
Benthic ecology – The study of the interaction of sea-floor organisms with each other and with the environment –
Desert ecology – The study of interactions between both biotic and abiotic components of desert environments –
Forest ecology – Study of interactions between the biota and environment in forets –
By biogeographic realm or climatic area under study
Arctic ecology – Study of the relationships between biotic and abiotic factors in the arctic –
Polar ecology – Relationship between plants and animals and a polar environment –
Tropical ecology – Study of the relationships between the biotic and abiotic components of the tropics.
By ecological aspects or phenomena under investigation
Behavioral ecology – Study of the evolutionary basis for animal behavior due to ecological pressures –
Chemical ecology – Study of chemically-mediated interactiond between living organisms – which deals with the ecological role of biological chemicals used in a wide range of areas including defense against predators and attraction of mates;
Disease ecology – Sub-discipline of ecology – which studies host-pathogen interactions, particularly those of infectious diseases, within the context of environmental factors;
Ecophysiology – Study of adaptation of an organism's physiology to environmental conditions – which studies the interaction of physiological traits with the abiotic environment;
Ecotoxicology – study of effects of released pollutants on the environment and biotaPages displaying wikidata descriptions as a fallback – which looks at the ecological role of toxic chemicals (often pollutants, but also naturally occurring compounds);
Evolutionary ecology – Interaction of biology and evolution – or ecoevolution which looks at evolutionary changes in the context of the populations and communities in which the organisms exist;
Fire ecology – Study of fire in ecosystems – which looks at the role of fire in the environment of plants and animals and its effect on ecological communities;
Functional ecology – branch of ecologyPages displaying wikidata descriptions as a fallback – the study of the roles, or functions, that certain species (or groups thereof) play in an ecosystem;
Thermal ecology – study of the interactions between temperature and organismsPages displaying wikidata descriptions as a fallback – the study of the relationship between temperature and organisms.
Ecology-involved interdisciplinary fields
Agroecology – Study of ecological processes in agriculture –
Applied ecology – sub-field within ecology that considers the application of the science of ecology to real-world (usually management) questionsPages displaying wikidata descriptions as a fallback – the practice of employing ecological principles and understanding to solve real world problems (includes agroecology and conservation biology);
Conservation ecology – Study of threats to biological diversity – which studies how to reduce the risk of species extinction;
Restoration ecology – Scientific study of renewing and restoring ecosystems – which attempts to understand the ecological basis needed to restore impaired or damaged ecosystems;
Biogeochemistry – Study of chemical cycles of the earth that are either driven by or influence biological activity –
Biogeography – Study of the distribution of species and ecosystems in geographic space and through geological time –