What is ecology? What are the features of ecosystem?« Back to Questions List

Ecology is the study of animals and plants in their natural environments and how they fit into the ecosystem.  An ecosystem is a community of plants and animals over a certain area together with the soil and other non-living materials. Ecology is a branch of biology that studies the relationship between organisms and its surroundings. We can assume earth with all its plants and living being as the largest ecosystem.




The word ecology is derived from the Greek words ‘Oikos’ meaning ‘the house’ and ‘logos’ meaning ‘study of’. Ecology has a great bearing on our life cycle. 


In an ecosystem, a balance exists among the plants, animals and environment.   The most important characteristic for an organism is the source of food. In an ecosystem, a pattern of feeding relationship called food chain gets developed. Consider a forest. Plants are the basic source of food for herbivores. Herbivores become food for carnivores. Certain carnivores are eaten by other carnivores.   This pattern gets stabilized and ensures the ecological balance of the system. Pond, forest and desert are different forms of ecosystems.  In an ecological system, each organism, irrespective of their size, plays a role. Within the system, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and hydrogen are generated, consumed and recycled through well defined processes.  These processes are called Carbon cycle, Nitrogen cycle and Photosynthesis.


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Over millions of years, nature has attained a stable ecological balance. But, the acts of man have caused ecological imbalances in recent times. The activities like deforestation, mining, industrialization and pollution of atmosphere, land and water bodies   have resulted in ecological imbalances.  The sudden changes on ecosystem because of the man made causes are often irreversible. These imbalances lead to Global warming, climate change, floods, earthquakes and droughts. These are sufficient causes to put the entire humanity into danger.  Better awareness of these aspects has resulted in the coming together of all the countries to discuss and take corrective measures


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