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Biodiversity continued...

>> Saturday, May 24, 2008

Many of the terms that were thrown around in the first post about biodiversity may have been a bit hard to understand. This post is going to break down the terminology used in ecology. So, in a way I guess this is more of an ecology post not a biodiversity post, I'm just cross referencing! Hopefully, this will lead to less confusion... not more.

So, starting at the broad and bringing it in a bit we will start with ecology: what is it and what do ecologists do all day? Well, ecology is— in the simplest of terms— the study of the relationships of organisms and their environments. I hope I'm not plagiarizing anyone there, but that is pretty much it. Now this includes all the relationships in an organisms environment: interactions with other organisms in the same species, other animals, plants, climactic changes, bacterium... all these interactions are what ecologists study.

There are a few different types of relationships that pretty much cover the bases of all the interactions. Relationships come in the following categories:

Mutualism- both sides of the relationship gain something
Commensalism- benefit for one and no effect on the other
Predation- this covers herbivory and parasitism as well. It is a gain for one and a loss for the other
Amensalism- negative for one and neutral for the other
Competition- negative for both parties
Neutralism- just what it sounds like— no effect on either

By studying these relationships you are also studying populations, genetics, global patterns, different biomes and more. As an ecologist, one must be a bit of a zoologist, botanist, geneticist, statistician, and writer. Not exactly an easy task.

I hope this gives everyone a better understanding of what ecology is. I will continue this series every now and again by breaking things up into pretty simple terminology (I hope). If you have any questions or want to know about a certain area of study (any topic is ok) just let us know!

If you want to find out more about ecology, there are tons of textbooks out there, but one I found really easy to follow was Ecology: concepts and applications by Manuel C. Molles, Jr.

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