Ecology and the Natural World
Ecologyand the Natural World
Ecologyand the Natural World
Ecologyis a branch of biology that deals with the scientific analysis of howorganisms are distributed, their abundance, interactions, andrelations in and with their respective environments. Some of thecritical areas of focus include animal and plant populations, animaland plant communities, and the nature of their ecosystems, or the webof networks that define the relationships of organisms at variousorganization scales. The discipline of ecology emanated from naturalsciences during the late 19thcentury, when researchers were interested in conducting studies onalmost everything in the environment, from the formation andrecycling of nutrients, minute bacteria, how tropical rain forestsaffect the atmosphere of the earth, and sundry. Another importantarea includes the study of how chemicals, nutrients, and energy flowin a certain ecosystem to establish ecological efficiency (theprocess that describes the transfer of energy from different tropicallevels). It is determined by a series of coordinating efficienciesthat relate to assimilation and organismic resources in a particularecosystem. Consequently, ecology seeks to enhance the understandingof the natural environment by focusing on the distribution andabundance of biodiversity in the environment, the stages ofadaptations, how ecosystems develop successively, and how energy andmaterials find their way through living communities.
Ecology,Energy, and Chemical Cycles
Inorder for the natural world to function efficiently, there arevarious factors that are responsible for regulating the amount andrate of biomass and energy flow. Imperatively, energy flow is definedas the amount of energy that is contained in a certain food chain(Ansari, 2016). The energy that enters the ecosystem, or the energyinput, is measured in calories or joules, such that the energy flowis also associated with the term “calorific flow.” As such, whilestudying about energy flow, the fundamental objective of ecologistsis to quantify the value of species and their respective feedingpatterns and relationships (InRawat, In Dookia, & In Sivaperuman, 2015).
Thesun is considered the largest producer of energy in an ecosystem, andthe some of its unused energy are lost in the form of heat. Nutrientsand energy are passed around through food chains when organisms feedon each other and the remaining are used up by decomposers (Hanski,2016). It means that energy fades away with time but nutrientsundergo the process of recycling. As such, to consider the way energyflows and chemical cycles, it is crucial to consider how it is passedfrom one tropical level to the next and how solar energy istransformed into heat and eventually lost.
Chemicalcycles are also critical in the efficient working of the naturalenvironment. As such, a chemical cycle is defined as a pathwaythrough which chemical elements use as they move into both theabiotic and biotic earth components (InRawat, In Dookia, & In Sivaperuman, 2015).Secondly, a cycle includes a series of changes that repeat themselvesfrom the starting point to the end and back. For instance, there is awater-cyclewhenit rains, some water seeps to the sea and oceans by moving in asground water. Others evaporate back to the atmosphere to feed theclouds. There is also the carbon dioxide/oxygen cycle, the nitrogencycle, and others. All have to undergo complete phases so that therecould be efficiencies in the natural world. For instance, the watercycle has to take full shape so that water that is lost throughevaporation and other means could be made available for the survivalof plants and organisms (Reddy, Karanth, Kumar, Krishnaswamy, &Karanth, 2016).
Accordingto Reddyet al. (2016), thesegment of community structure is concerned with the diversity andrichness of species, including the investigation of why ecosystemsthat reflect relatively higher diversity are considered more stableand the role of keystone and foundation species. Based on this, acommunity structure is determined by the richness of its species,which measures the number of species presents (InRawat, In Dookia, & In Sivaperuman, 2015).It is also concerned with the diversity of species, which covers bothspecies evenness and richness (InRawat, In Dookia, & In Sivaperuman, 2015).There are many factors that affect community structure, includingspecies interactions, abiotic factors, chance events, and level ofdisturbance. There are some species that are found to play somecritical roles with regards to determining their community structure,including foundation and keystone species (Reddyet al., 2016).
Inlight of the previous discussion, a community is regarded as a set ofpopulations that dominate a certain area (Hanski, 2016). They areoften studied with difficulties because they have differentboundaries and sizes. As such, an ecosystem covers a higher level ofcommunity, involving the respective physical environment so that theecosystem comprises both the physical and biological components thatinterfere with the routine functioning of the ecosystem/community. Itmeans that the ecosystem could be studied from a functional view thatfocuses on energy flow or from the view of population distribution.The concept of species diversity has a close connection withefficiency in the natural world. It is a function of both therelative abundance of species and the number of different specieswithin a given community (Reddyet al., 2016).Generally, ecologists consider communities that are more diverse tobe stable than the less diverse ones (InRawat, In Dookia, & In Sivaperuman, 2015).
Ecologicalsuccession refers to the process that a biological communityundergoes as it evolves with the passage of time (Reddyet al., 2016).There are two succession types, including primary succession whichtakes place in areas that are lifeless, for instance, a region wherelava has flowed more than once thus rendering the soil infertile. Onthe other hand, secondary succession takes place where there was acommunity occupying a certain region but had to be displaced becauseof conditions that do not support life. They are regarded assmall-scale disturbances that take away nutrients and life from therespective environment (Ansari, 2016). The two form the basis ofworking ofthe natural world by creating a mix of species that is continuallychanging (Reddyet al., 2016).
HowEach Idea Works
Theother sections have discussed how the ideas of chemical and energycycles, community structure, and biodiversity and succession fittogether to form a basis of how the natural world functions. Firstly,chemical and energy cycles need to be balanced in the atmosphere toguarantee their movement to where they are needed. Specifically, whenthere are interferences with the carbon cycle, there will beinsufficient oxygen for plants and animals. Secondly, communitystructure evaluates the level of diversity that exists in a certainecosystem. Since animals depend on each other for survival andgrowth, an environment that is highly diverse is likely to promote ahigh survival rate for organisms than a low diverse environment(Reddyet al., 2016).
Theworking of the natural world is complex and involves a lot ofelements, such as efficiency in energy flow, uninterrupted foodchains, biodiversity and succession, community structure, and others.Of late, experts have sought to create a distinction between naturalhistory and ecology, by stating that the latter is basicallyconcerned with studying about organisms in a descriptive way. Assuch, there are multiple ways of applying such knowledge, includingconservation biology, the management of natural resource, wetlandmanagement, community health, city planning, applied and basicscience, economics, and others. In short, it offers a comprehensiveand conceptual framework that is useful in researching andunderstanding the interaction of human beings with their environmentsand the respective organisms.
Froma personal experience, biodiversity is highly critical for fosteringthe survival of organisms in an ecosystem. It measures the level ofvariety of plants and animals present in a given ecosystem. Thisrefers to the variation of species, ecosystem variation, and thepresenceof biome. Biodiversity plays an important role in nature since itensures that there is continuedsupplyof food, shelter, fuel, medicine, and other resources (Reddyet al., 2016).It means that when a human being exists in an environment that ishighly bio-diverse, they are likely to extract more satisfaction andlead longer lives because their demands are met.
Finally,the analysis has demonstrated how ecology seeks to enhance theunderstanding of the natural environment by focusing on thedistribution and abundance of biodiversity in the environment, thestages of adaptations, how ecosystems develop successively, and howenergy and materials find their way through living communities. Sincethe natural world is complex and made up of sub-systems, gaining anin-depthknowledge is critical in ensuring that the environment is conservedand life conditions are guaranteed.
Ansari,A. A. (2016). Plantbiodiversity.Place of publication not identified: Cabi Publishing.
Hanski,I. (2016). Messagesfrom islands: A global biodiversity tour.New York: SAGE.
InRawat, M., In Dookia, S., & In Sivaperuman, C. (2015). Aquaticecosystem: Biodiversity, ecologyand conservation.
Reddy,G. V., Karanth, K. U., Kumar, N. S., Krishnaswamy, J., & Karanth,K. K. (2016). Recoveringbiodiversity in Indian forests.
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