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What is Ecology? – Definition, Theory, Types and FAQs

Jul 7, 2022


Ernst Haeckel, a German zoologist, invented the term ecology to describe the “relationship of the animal to both its organic and inorganic surroundings.” The term is derived from the Greek Oikos, which means “home,” “household,” or “place to call home.” Thus, ecology is concerned with the creature and its surroundings.


Ecology studies the interconnections between living creatures, including humanity, and their surrounding environment. It aims to understand the crucial links between flora, fauna, and their surroundings. Ecology also informs humans about the advantages of ecosystems and how humans might use Earth’s resources in various ways that preserve the environment in good condition for future generations.

Ecology’s many specialties, including marine, vegetation, and statistics ecology, supply humanity with the knowledge to help themselves better comprehend the world around them. This knowledge can also improve the environment, conserve natural resources, and prevent contamination.


Ecology Meaning

Ecology is the community study of how living organisms respond to their surroundings. Within ecology, scholars study at four distinct levels, which sometimes coincide and sometimes do not. These are the organism, community, population, and ecosystem levels. Ecosystems in ecology are made up of continuously interconnected elements such as creatures (living or biotic components), communities, and non-living (abiotic components) constituents of the environment. Primary production, pedogenesis (soil formation), biogeochemical cycles, and different niche construction activities all coordinate the movement of matter and energy through an ecosystem. Organisms with certain life-history qualities support these processes. Biodiversity refers to the diversity in organisms, consisting of several species, ecosystems, and genes, thereby improving the ecological functions.

Ecology Definition

Ecology, known as bionomics, bio ecology, or environmental biology, studies the interactions between organisms and their surroundings. It studies how organisms (biotic and non-biotic organisms) respond to the outside environment and other creatures. Every organism has complicated interactions with other life forms of its species and those of different species. These intricate relationships exert various evolutionary pressures on organisms. The pressures combine to generate a natural selection, allowing species populations to evolve. Ecology is the scientific study of these processes, their causes, and the dynamic interactions between creatures and their non-living surroundings.


Ecologists examine what occurs when ecosystems do not work optimally and how ecosystems work normally. Transitions in ecosystems can be caused by various factors, including diseases among creatures living in the area, rising temperatures, and greater human activity. Studying these changes can assist ecologists in anticipating future ecological difficulties as well as informing other researchers and legislators about the threats to their local ecosystems.

Ecological Systems Theory

Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory divides developmental contexts into five-layered levels of behavioural influence: microsystems, mesosystems, ecosystems, macrosystems, and chronosystems. These levels are classified from the closest to broadest options.



According to the Bronfenbrenner hypothesis, the microsystem is the closest and most personal environment in which kids inhabit. The children’s microsystem includes their home, school or childcare, peer group, and community surroundings. Factors in the child’s immediate surroundings that communicate directly with them and have the biggest influence on them, such as parents and events happening at home.


The interconnection of the various microsystems in which kids find themselves is referred to as the mesosystem. It is, in fact, a system of microsystems, with connections between school and home, the influence of peers and family, and family and loved ones. According to Bronfenbrenner’s ecological system theory, if a kid’s parents are involved actively in their child’s interactions, the kid’s growth is positively influenced by concord and like-mindedness.



In Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory, the exosystem refers to the connections between different or more environments, one of which may not include developing kids but affects them indirectly. According to Bronfenbrenner’s research, places and people that kids do not directly engage with can have a great impact on their lives. Such places and individuals may include the parents’ occupations, extended relatives, and the children’s neighbourhood.


In Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory, the macrosystem is the broadest and most remote set of individuals and places from which the kids nevertheless have substantial influences. This ecological system comprises the kid’s cultural practices and values, their dominating ideas and beliefs, and economic and political institutions.



The chronosystem extends Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory with the usable dimension of time. It highlights the impact of transition and consistency in kids’ settings. A transition in family structure, residence, or parents’ work status, as well as massive societal upheavals such as business cycles and wartime, can be included in the chronosystem.

Types of Ecology

Scientists can look at ecology via many optics, from the tiniest molecular level to the entire planet. The following sections cover various types of ecology.


Molecular Ecology

The study of ecology at the molecular level specialises in the production of proteins, how these proteins influence the organism and the ecosystem, and how the ecosystem influences the development of diverse proteins. DNA gives rise to diverse proteins in all known creatures, which combine the ecosystem to copy the new diversified DNA. These interactions result in some extremely complex species. Molecular ecologists research how proteins are made, how they influence the organism and the ecosystem, and how the ecosystem influences them.

Population Ecology

A population can be defined as a group of organisms belonging to the same species at the next level of biological structure. Because of the diversity of life on Earth, various species have evolved a wide range of tactics for interacting with related species or creatures of the same species. Some species compete directly with related species, but others create deep social relationships and collaborate to gain resources. Social ecology is a discipline of ecology that investigates creatures like honeybees and foxes that work cooperatively to provide for the hive or group.

Because of the complex relationships between these species and their environment, they exhibit distinct selective forces than species that contend with related species. Indeed, scientists argue that society’s greater success drove humans to be so friendly. Population ecologists investigate organism populations and their intricate interactions with the environment and other populations.

Organisms Ecology

Organism ecology studies the interactions of an organism with other species and the environment. While organismal science is a branch of ecology, it is nonetheless a vast subject. Each creature has a large range of interactions throughout its lifetime, and studying them all is unattainable. Many scientists investigating organismal ecology concentrate on one element of the organism, such as its behaviour or how it absorbs environmental nutrients.

The study of behaviour, or ethology, can also be called ecology. Rather than only studying specific animal behaviours, behavioural ecologists investigate how such behaviours affect the organism’s evolution and how the environmental factors influence certain behaviours.

A behavioural ecologist, for example, may investigate how a hawk hunts for prey, observing which habits contribute to the achievement and which end in failure. The scientist can then postulate the forces that cause hawks to behave this way. This knowledge can be useful for developing conservation programmes to safeguard wild creatures.

Ecosystem Ecology

The ecosystem is the biggest scale of organismal arrangement. An ecosystem is a structure of biological communities that are linked together. The biosphere, the greatest ecosystem, incorporates all ecosystems within it. Ecosystem ecologists investigate the complex patterns formed by interacting ecosystems and abiotic environmental influences. They may research water, fertilisers, or other chemicals circulating throughout the ecosystem. Ecosystem ecology is a multidisciplinary science that is exceedingly complex and on a vast scale.


Ecology is a branch of research that includes community, human, biosphere, population, and ecosystem science. Ecology is the scientific study of organisms, their environments, and how they interact with one another and their surroundings. Ecology teaches individuals about how their actions affect the ecosystem. It demonstrates to individuals the degree of environmental devastation they inflict. For instance, lack of understanding about the destruction of land and the environment. Certain species have also become extinct or endangered as a result of this. Ecology knowledge allows humans to determine which resources are needed for the survival of various organisms. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Explain some of the examples of ecology.

A.  Human Ecology

It focuses on the interaction of people and the environment. It emphasises human activities’ environmental impact and provides information on how humans can improve themselves for the benefit of both humans and nature.

 B. Niche Construction

It is concerned with investigating how organisms adapt to their surroundings to benefit themselves and other living beings. Beetles, for example, can build a 6-foot-tall mound while feeding and protecting their whole population.

2. Why is it important to learn ecology?

A.The following considerations demonstrate the significance of ecology:

  • All creatures for development and growth require energy. Due to a lack of ecological awareness, energy resources, including light, nourishment, and radiation, are over-utilised, resulting in the depletion of ecology’s precious resources.
  • Proper understanding of ecological requirements eliminates excessive waste of power sources, thereby preserving energy for future use.
  • The ecosystem promotes species harmony and the development of a culture that preserves the ecology of life.

3. What exactly is community ecology?

A. Community ecology, also known as synecology, studies the ecology of communities or the group of species found in a specific location. Because the whole list of species for a given location is rarely known, community ecology frequently focuses on subgroups of organisms, such as plant communities or animal communities. A key topic concerns the magnitude of the “range of species”—what ecological conditions influence how many species exist in a given area.



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