Types of Ecology

Types of Ecology

Ecology is the study of organisms' relationships have to each other and to their environment.


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Biology, Ecology

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Every organism depends on living and nonliving things to survive. Ecology is the branch of science that examines the relationships organisms have to each other and to their environment. Scientists who study those relationships are called ecologists.

There are many different ways to study ecology. Some types are landscape ecology, population ecology, and behavioral ecology.

Landscape ecology deals with spatial distribution, patterns, and behaviors across large geographical areas. Landscape ecologists might study the impact of development on a particular species of native grass in a specific area. One type of grass may be resistant to chemicals, for example, indicating the area would be ideal for agricultural development.

Population ecology studies the rise and fall in the number of a species. A population ecologist may compare the population of a species near a new food source to a population that lacks access to that food source. The new food source may increase the numbers of the species, or, if the food source is contaminated, reduce it.

Behavioral ecology studies the different ways organisms evolve and adapt to changes in their habitat. Behavioral ecologists often study mating patterns, or what characteristics male and female animals prefer when seeking to reproduce. Behavioral ecologists study bird songs or plumage as they relate to mating patterns, for example.

When ecologists study a particular animal, they examine what the animals food sources are, how it reproduces, what its predators might be, and the characteristics of its habitat. They also study how the animal lives in that habitat, including migrations, shelter, population, and how the species interacts with other animals and plants in its habitat.

Fast Fact

Deep Ecology
Deep ecology is a new area of study. Deep ecology proposes that human beings function as a part of the environment, not in opposition to it. Unlike most branches of ecology, deep ecology does not rely on the scientific method of asking a question, proposing a hypothesis, and testing that hypothesis by observation and experimentation. Deep ecology has more in common with philosophy and political science than other branches of ecology.

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Hilary Costa
Erin Sprout
Santani Teng
Melissa McDaniel
Jeff Hunt
Diane Boudreau
Tara Ramroop
Kim Rutledge
Hilary Hall
Mary Crooks, National Geographic Society
Tim Gunther
Jeannie Evers, Emdash Editing, Emdash Editing
Kara West
Educator Reviewer
Nancy Wynne
National Geographic Society
Last Updated

October 19, 2023

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