McNaughton, Samuel J. Department of Biology, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York.
Last reviewed:January 2017
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- Population ecology
- Systems ecology
- Applied ecology
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
The subdiscipline of biology that concentrates on the relationships between organisms and their environments; it is also called environmental biology. Ecology is concerned with patterns of distribution (where organisms occur) and with patterns of abundance (how many organisms occur) in space and time. It seeks to explain the factors that determine the range of environments that organisms occupy and that determine how abundant organisms are within those ranges. It also emphasizes functional interactions between co-occurring organisms. In addition to its character as a unique component of the biological sciences, ecology is both a synthetic and an integrative science because it often draws upon information and concepts in other sciences, ranging from physiology to meteorology, to explain the complex organization of nature (Fig. 1).
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