What is Ecology?

The study of the ecological interactions between living beings and their physical environment, including humans, is ecology. It aims to understand the crucial links between plants and animals and the world around them. Ecology also gives knowledge on the advantages of ecosystems and how we may use Earth resources to ensure that future generations have a healthy environment.

Overview of Ecology

The various ecological subfields, including marine, vegetative, and statistical ecology, are all important for living beings. The information gathered from these subfields can also help to protect our environment, natural resources, and human health. Ecology is the study of life; it involves connections and changes in material and energy flow in living communities, development of successive ecosystems, interspecies interactions, competition, predation, and the quantity, biomass, and environmental dispersion of organisms. Ecology also studies biodiversity patterns and their impact on ecological processes. Professionals that study ecology are called ecologists. They study and understand the organism's life processes, adaptations and environments, interactions, and biodiversity.

The ecological factors are mainly divided into three types; they are, the interconnections/interrelations of plants in a specific region, the interconnection of soil microbes and plants, the role of climate conditions including rainfall, moisture in the atmosphere, wind, air gases, light and temperature, and physiographical variables include height, steepness and sunshine effects on vegetation and pathway orientation. Environment researchers investigate the relationship between the organism and environment in all sizes of ecosystems, from microbial communities worldwide. 

What is Ecological interaction?

The effects that organisms in a community have on one another are referred to as ecological interactions. Individual organisms coexist and rely on one another for survival. Different types of ecological interactions exist based on the types of relationships between the same or different species. Intraspecific, interspecific, harmonious, and inharmonious interactions are the four types of ecological interactions.

Intraspecific interaction

Interaction between individuals of the same species is called intraspecific interaction.

Interspecific interaction

 Interaction between the different species is known as interspecific interaction.

Harmonious interaction

Inharmonious Interaction, none of the organisms are harmed during the time of interaction.

Inharmonious interaction

Inharmonious interaction, at least one organism is harmed during the interaction.

Ecological interactions based on duration of impact

Based on the period or duration in which one species has its effect on another the ecological interactions are mainly divided into two types; short-term interaction and long-term interaction. The long-term interaction is further classified into six types they are mutualism, commensalism, neutralism, amensalism, predation, parasitism, and competition. Short-term interaction includes predation and pollination.

Short-term species interactions

In ecology and evolution, short-term species interactions, including preying and pollination, are highly essential. The length of a single encounter is short-lived.  One organism kills and eats another during predation. Preying provides energy to the predator and promotes their survival at the expense of the organism devoured, the prey. Predation has an impact on two ecological tiers of organisms. The prey creature experiences a sudden decrease at the population level, as determined by its reproductive success for the rest of its life, as it is unable to increase in number. Preying decreases the number of people in the prey population at the community level. Carnivorous interactions in which one animal eats another are the best examples of predation. Pollination is critical for fruit and seed crop production and plays a vital role in breeding efforts.

Long-term species interaction

Long-term species interaction includes mutualism, commensalism, neutralism, amensalism, predation, parasitism, and competition.

  • Mutualism:  Mutualism, association of two different species of creatures in which each is beneficial. Mutual arrangements between species with vast varying living conditions are most likely to form. The mutualism is divided in to two types there are facultative mutualism and obligate mutualism. Each species is gain benefits from another one, but they are able to survive without each other and the obligate mutualistic are the species that only survive in the presence of one another.
  • Commensalism: It is an interspecific relationship between the one species get benefit and the other species remains not harmed or not helped. One of the examples of commensalism is bird eating food from the crocodile teeth.
  • Parasitism: Parasitism is a symbiotic interaction, where one organism (the parasite) lives on or within another organism (the host) and causes harm. The exception to parasitism is parasitism. The animals' parasites are highly specialized and multiply more quickly than their hosts. Classic instances include interactions between hosts and tapeworms, flukes, Plasmodium species and fleas, generating malaria.
  • Amensalism: It is the link between two different kinds of organisms in which one is suppressed or eliminated, and the other is not harmed. Penicillin killing bacteria is one of the examples of amensalism.
  • Neutralism: Neutralism is an interspecific interaction, in this the species may interact and but they do not harm each other. The true neutralism is may unlike or impossible to prove. Cacti and tarantulas are living in the desert is one of the examples of this.
  • Competition: In ecology, competition is use of the same resources by organizations of the same or different species that live in a community if the resources are not sufficient to meet all organisms requirements.

Context and Applications

This topic is essential in the professional exams for both school level, undergraduate and postgraduate courses especially for bachelors in zoology, and masters in zoology.

Practice Problems

Question 1: What is the interaction of one species that overpowers another's existence and fitness?

  1. Competition
  2. Mutualism
  3. Commensalism
  4. Predation

Answer: Option 1 is correct.

Explanation: The fitness of one organism overcomes the presence and fitness of another in competitive contact. In those organizations of a single or distinct species, the struggle for the same resources in the same or different communities.

Question 2: How can creatures of various species interact biologically, and each one obtains known benefits?

  1. Mutualism
  2. Competition
  3. Commensalism

Answer: Option 1 is correct.

Explanation: Mutualism is the biological interaction of distinct species creatures that benefit every person. This connection is positively oriented as both creatures benefit.

Question 3: How does "meal sharing" characterize their relationship?

  1. Mutualism
  2. Commensalism
  3. Ammensalism
  4. Predation

Answer: Option 2 is correct.

Explanation: Commensalism is described in the phrase "sharing of meals" or "tab sharing." It is a long-term interaction between two species that benefits one species and does not damage or benefit another.

Question 4: Which is the abiotic component of an ecosystem?

  1. Soil
  2. Protein
  3. Carbon
  4. All of the above.

Answer: Option 4 is correct.

Explanation: In ecology, abiotic components are physical parts and non-living chemicals of an environment. They affect the functionalities and living organisms of the ecosystems. Abiotic components and the phenomena related to these factors underpin biology as a whole. Soil, protein, carbon are the abiotic components of an ecosystem.

Question 5: Interaction between different species is called as________________.

  1. Mutualism
  2. Interspecific interaction
  3. Intraspecific interaction
  4. Commensalism

Answer: Option 2 is correct.

Explanation: Interaction between the different species is known as interspecific interaction.

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