• ecology
    Ecologists study the relationship between organisms and their environment.

    Photograph by Trond Larsen, MyShot

    Every organism depends on living and non-living 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.

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    adaptation Noun

    a modification of an organism or its parts that makes it more fit for existence. An adaptation is passed from generation to generation.

    Encyclopedic Entry: adaptation
    agricultural development Noun

    modern farming methods that include mechanical, chemical, engineering and technological methods. Also called industrial agriculture.

    behavior Noun

    anything an organism does involving action or response to stimulation.

    behavioral ecology Noun

    the study of the different ways organisms adapt their behavior to suit their environment.

    characteristic Noun

    physical, cultural, or psychological feature of an organism, place, or object.

    deep ecology Noun

    the study of human beings as part of the larger environment.

    development Noun

    growth, or changing from one condition to another.

    Encyclopedic Entry: development
    ecology Noun

    branch of biology that studies the relationship between living organisms and their environment.

    Encyclopedic Entry: ecology
    environment Noun

    conditions that surround and influence an organism or community.

    evolve Verb

    to develop new characteristics based on adaptation and natural selection.

    habitat Noun

    environment where an organism lives throughout the year or for shorter periods of time.

    Encyclopedic Entry: habitat
    landscape ecology Noun

    the study of spatial distributions and patterns of organisms across large geographical areas.

    mating pattern Noun

    behavior and characteristics sought by male and female animals seeking to reproduce.

    migrate Verb

    to move from one place or activity to another.

    migration Noun

    movement of a group of people or animals from one place to another.

    organism Noun

    living or once-living thing.

    pattern Noun

    arrangement of people, places, or things across a specific space.

    philosophy Noun

    the study of the basic principles of knowledge.

    plumage Noun

    a bird's feathers.

    political scientist Noun

    person who studies the structure and ideas of government.

    population ecology Noun

    the study of what contributes to the rise and fall of numbers of a species.

    predator Noun

    animal that hunts other animals for food.

    reproduce Verb

    to create offspring, by sexual or asexual means.

    resistant Adjective

    able to withstand the effects of a substance, material, or behavior.

    scientific method Noun

    method of research in which a question is asked, data are gathered, a hypothesis is made, and the hypothesis is tested.

    shelter Noun

    structure that protects people or other organisms from weather and other dangers.

    spatial distribution Noun

    how people, places, things, or events are arranged across the Earth.

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