An Introduction to Ecology and Environment
Posted on : 02-06-2018 Posted by : Admin

Ecology and Ecosystem: Definition

The term “Ecology” is derived from two Greek words ‘oikos’ meaning house and ‘logos’ meaning study. It was coined by Ernest Haeckel.  Eugene Pleasants Odum, the famous ecologist defined ecology as ‘the study of structure and function of nature’. In simple terms, ecology is the branch of biology that deals with the scientific study of the interactions among organisms and their physical environment. These two components of ecology namely, Organisms and their physical environment are related and interdependent. These components function as a system in an organized way. Environment influences and modifies the organisms; also organisms influence and modify the environment. And accordingly different ecosystems are formed.

If we take an example of a school, it is planned and grouped at several levels. Different students and teachers are divided into different classes based on some criteria. These classes on the other hand are arranged in the school. Few local schools are organized under a district administration. Few district schools are organized under a city administration and so on. In a similar way, ecosystem is also organized at several levels. Ecology includes the following levels of biological organization:

  • Species level: Species is a group of individuals that are genetically linked with each other. They can interbreed to produce fertile young ones.
  • Population level: Population is a group of organisms belonging to the same species. Populations live in same region and interact with one another.
  • Community level: Community is the group of populations of different species living in a particular area. Populations of a community interact with one another.
  • Ecosystem: It consists of all the communities of an area. An ecosystem is made of the biotic and abiotic factors in an area.
  • Biosphere: Biosphere is the narrow zone where the life exists on Earth. It Biosphere is everything about life on earth. It is the place where humans, animals, plants, microorganisms live and interact with each other.

The branch Ecology is further divided into Autecology, Synecology. The following table brings out the major differences between Autecology and Synecology. 


Autecology Synecology
It is also called as Population ecology It is also called as community ecology

It is the study of individual organism in relation to their environment.

*(Study may sometimes include individual species or individual population)

It is the study of group of organisms in relation to their environment.

*(Study may sometimes include many species or communities or ecosystem)
It is concerned with study of lower levels of biological organization. It is concerned with study of the highest level of biological organization
It is comparatively simple, experimental and inductive. It is comparatively complex, philosophical and deductive.
It can be performed in lab conditions and results can be interpreted with traditional tools. As it deals with the interactions of a whole system, it cannot be performed in lab conditions.


Environment: Definition

Environment is defined as sum total of all biotic and abiotic factors that influence an organism during its survival and reproduction. Mainly there are following two types of environments,

  • Abiotic environment: It is also known as physical or natural environment. The non-living natural surroundings like air, water, land are the part of the physical environment.  Climatic factors like sunshine, rainwater, precipitation, moisture, humidity, pressure etc. are also abiotic factors.
  • Biotic environment: It is also known as biological or organic environment. This environment is responsible for the growth, reproduction and maintenance of the living organisms. Biological environment mainly includes living part of the earth.

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