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The word ecology came into use in t}le second half of the nineteenth century.

Haeckel in 1869 defined ecology as thetotal relations of the animal to both its
organic and its
rnorganic environment. This very broad definition has provoked some authors to p
oint out that if
this is ecology, there is very liule that is not ecology.
Four biological disciplines are closely related to ecology - genetics, evolution
physiolory, and behavior.
Charles Elton in his pioneering book Animal Ecology defined ecology. as scientif
natural history. Although this definition points out tlre origin of many of our
ecological problems,
it is again uncomfortably vague. In 1963 Eugene Odum defined ecolory as the stud
y of the
structure and fi:nction of nature.
A clear but restrictive definition of ecology: Ecologr is the scientific study o
f the
distribution and abundance of organisms (Andrewartha i96i). This definition is s
tatic and leaves
out the important idea of relationships. Since ecology is about relationships, w
e can modfy
Andrewartha's definition to make a precise definition of ecology, is the scienti
fic study of
interactions that determine the distribution and abundance of organisms.
Distribution is where organisms are found and abundance is how many organisms ar
found in a given area which are key facts that must be determined before we can
address the most
difficult question: Why this particular distribution, rvhl,this abundance? We se
ek the cause-and effect relationships that govern distribution and abundance (Krebs, 2009).
Nature, in the broadest sense, is equivarent to the natural
mat rial world. uNature" refers to the phenomena of the physical
general. It ranges in scale from the subatomic to the cosmic.
world physical world, or
world, and also to life in
The wordnahrreis derived fromthe
Latin word natura, or "essential qualities,
innafe disposition", and in ancient times,
literally meant "birth". Natural was a
Latin translation of the Greek word physis;
which originally relaed to the intrinsic
characteristics that pl4nts, anirnals, urd
chr features of the world develop of their
own acco'rd.
Within the various uses of the word today, nature may refer to the general realm
various types of living plants and animals, and in some cases to the processes a
ssociated with
inanimate objects-the way that particular types of things exist and change of th
eir own accord,
such as the weather and geology of the earth, and the matter and energy of which
all these things
are composed.

It is often taken to mean the

"natural environment, or wildernesswild
anirnals, rocls, forest, beaches, and in
general 1[sse things that have not been zuhatrially altered by human
interventiorl or which persist despite
human intervention. For, example,
manufrctured objects and human
interaction generally are not considered
part of nature, unless qualified as, for
example, *human nature, or " the whote
This more traditional concept of natural things which can still be found today i
mplies a
distinction between the natural and the artificial, with the artificial being un
derstood as that which has been brought into being by a human consciousness or a
human mind. Depending on the particular contert, the term "natural' might also
be distinguisheti irom the unnafural, the supernatural and the artifactual (en.w
ikipedia- the free encyclopedia).
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Environment refers to the surroundings of an object. This also refers to the nat
environment, all living and non-living things that occur naturally on earth. It
is an environment
that encompasses the interaction of all living species. The natural environment
can be
distinguished by components (environmenV Define Environment at
. Complete ecological units - function as nahral systems without massive human
interventiorl including all vegetation, microorganisms, soil, rocks, atnosphere
natural phenomenathat occur within their boundaries.
o Universal naturel resources and physical phenomena - lack clear-cut boundaries
such as air, water, and climate, as well as energy, radiation, electric charge,
magnetism, not originating from human activity.
A geographical eree is regarded as a natural environment, if the human impact on
it is
kept under a certain limited level.
Environment is tte.zum tdal of all living and nonliving things that affect any l
organism. Everything we do affects the environmer[. Sonre of our scicntific disc
overies and
actions have led to longer life spars, better health, and increased material wea
kh for some. At the
same time, exponential increases in both the human population and our resource c
have degraded the air, waier, soil and species in the naniral systems that suppo
rt out lives and
economics. If kept up, such actions can threaten the long-term sustarnability of
our societies.

The roots if ecology lies in natural
history. Primitive tribes, for example who depended on hunting, fishing and
food gathering needed d*ailed
knowledge of where and when their quarry
migh be fotrnd. The stablishment of
agricuhure also increassd the need to learn
about the ecology of plants and domestic
animals. Agriculture today is a special
form of applied ecology.
The concept of providential ecology, in which nahrre is designed to benefit and
each species, was implicit in the writings of Herodotus and Plato. A major assum
ptiou of this
concept was that the number of every species remained essentially constant. Outb
reaks of some
populations were acknowledged" but were usually attributed to divine punishment.
And since
each species had a special had a special place in nature, extinction could not o
ccur because it
would disrupt the balance and harmony in nature.
3Outbreaks of pests such as locusts rn the Middle East and North Africa or rats
in rice
crops in Asia are not new problems in agriculture. Spectacular plagues of animal
s attracted the
afiention of the earliest writes. The Eglrptians and Babylonians feared locust p
lqgues often
attributing them to supematural powers (Exodus 7:14 - 12:30).
In the fourth century B.C., Aristotle tried to explain plagues of field mice and
locusts in
Historia Animalium. He pointed out that the high reproductive rate of field mice
could produce
more mice than could be reproduced by their natural predators, such as foxes and
ferrets, or by
the control efforts of humans. Nothing succeeded in reducing these mouse plagues
. Aristotle
stated, except the rain and after heavy rains the mice disappeared rapidly.
Pests are problems for people because they violate our feeling of harmony or bal
ance in
the environment. Ecological harmony was a guiding principle basic to the Greeks'
of.nature. The historian Frank Egerton in1968 has traced this concept from ancie
nt times to the
modern term belence of nature.
How did we get from these early Greek and Roman ideas about harmony to qrr moder
understanding? A combination of mathematics and natural history paved the way. B
y the
sevetrteefth certury students of natural hislory and human ecology began to focu
s on population
ecology and to construct a quantitative framework.
Graunt, who in 1662 described human population change in quantitative terms, can
called the "father of demography''. He recognized the importance of measuring bi
rth rates, death
rates, and.age structure of human populations and he complained about the inadeq

uate census
data available in England in the seventeenth century. Graunt estimated the poten
tial rate of
population growth for London, and concluded that even without immigration. Londo
population would double in 64 years.
Leeuwenhoek made one of the first attempts to calculate theoretical rates of inc
rease for
an animal species. He studied the reproductive rate of grain beetles, carrion fl
ies, and human lice,
counting the number of eggs laid by female carrion flies and calculating that on
e pair of flies
could produ ce 7 46,496 flies in three months .
. WrEBuffon, who authored Natural History (1756). touched on many of our modern
ecological problems and recognizedtlat populations of humans, other animals, and
plants are
subjected to the same processes. Buffon discussed, for example, how the great fe
rtility of every
species was counterbalanced by innumerable agents of destruction. He believed th
at plague
populations of field mice were checked partly by diseases and scarcity of food.
Buffion did not
acc pt Aristotle's idea that hcaty rains causcd the decline of derne moulc po,pula
tions, but
thought instead that control was achieved by biological agents. Rabbits, he staf
ed would reduce
the countryside to a desert if it were not for their predators.
What prevents populations from
reaching the point at q/hich they deplete
their food supply? What checks operate
against the tendency toward a geometric
rate of increase? Two cefrrrics later we
still ask these qucstions. Thesc ideas
were not new; Machiavelli had said
much the same thing around 1525, as did
Buffon in 1751, and several others had
anticipated Malthus. It was Malthus,
however, who brought these ideas to
general attention. Darwin used the
reasoning of Malthus uui one of the bases
for his theory of natural selection.
Doubleday put forward the True Law of Population. He believed that whenever a
species was threatcned, nature made a corresponding effort to preservo it by inc
reasing the
fertilify of its members. Human populations that were undernourished had the hig
hest fertility;
those thet were well fed had the lowest fertility. Yur can nrake the same observ
ations by looking
around the world today. Doubleday explained these effects by the oversupply of m
ineral nutrients
in well-fed populations. Doubleday observed a basic fact that we recognize today
: low birth rates
occur in wealthy countries - although his explanations were completely wrong.
Malthus, the most famous of the early demographers, published one of the earlies
controversial books on demography, Essay on Population (1798). He calculated tha
t although the
number of organisms can increase geometrically (1,2,4,8,16, ...), food supply ca

n never increase
faster than arithmetically (1,2,3,4 . ). The arithmetic rate of increase in food
production seems to
be somewhat arbitrary. The great disproportion between these two powers of incre
ase led Malthus
to infer tlat reproduction must eventually be checked by food production.
Quetelet, a Belgain statistician, suggested in 1835 that the growth of a populat
ion rr,'as
checked by factors opposing population growth. In 1838 his student Pierre-Franco
is Verhulst
derived an equation describing the initial rapid growth and evenflral teveling o
ff of a population
over time. This S-Shaped curve he called the logistic curve. His rvork rvas over
looked untii
modern times, but it is fundamentally important. and we will return to it later
in detail.
[ ' '-- *air
Ft ttC;p.
ht rdioowfi t_ envionmenl comoanixr -! Sdrdbn 'i t t,.-.\
ilrr Populrtlon
EdfcrreflcUntil the nineteenth century, Providential design was still the guidin
g light. In the late
eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, two ideas that undermined the idea of
balance of
nature gradually gained support:
l. that many species had become extinct and
2. that resources are limited and competition caused by population pressure is i
in nature.
The consequences of these two ideas became clear with the work of Malthus, Lyell
Spencer, and Darwin in the nineteenth century. Providential ecology and the bala
nce of nature
were replaced by natural selection and the struggle for existence.
The balance of nature idea, redefined after Darwin, has continued to persist in
ecology. The idea that... "Naturot systems are stable and in equilibrium with th
environmcnts,' unless humans distu$ them is still accepted by many ecologists an
Humans must eat, and many of the early developments in ecology came from the app
fields of agriculhrre and fisherics. lnsect pests of crops have becn one focus o
f work. Beforc the
advent of modern chemistry, biological control was the only feasible approach. I
n 1762 the
mynah bird was introduced from tndia to the island of Mauritius to control the r
ed locust; by
1770 the locust threat was a negligible problem.
Forskal wrote in 1775 aboutthe introduction of predatory ants from nearby mounta

into date-palm orchards to control o&er species of ants feeding on the palms in
Arabia. In subsequent years, an increasing knowledge of insect parasitism and pr
edation led to
many such introductions all over the world in the hope of controlling nonnative
and native
agricultural pests.
The pioneering rvork of Robert Ross atternpted to describe in rnathematical term
s the
propagation of malaria, which is transmitted by mosquitoes. In an infected area"
the propagation
of malaria is determined by two continuous and simultaneous processes:
l. the number of nerv infections :rmong people depends on the number and infecti
vity of
mosquitoes and
2. the infeaivity of mosquitoes depend on the number of people in the locality a
frequency of malaria among them.
Production Ecologr, the study of the
harvestable yields of plants and animals,
had its beginnings in agriculture, and
Egerton traced this back to the eigtrteenth
Bradley recognized the fundamental similarities of animal and plant production,
he proposed methods of maximizing agricultural yields (and hence profits) for wi
ne grapes, trees,
poultry, rabbits, and fish. The conceptual framework that Bradley used - monetar
y investment
versus profit - is now called the 'optimum-yield problem' and is a central issue
in applied
Individual species do not exist in a vacuum, but iostead in a matrix of other sp
ecies with
which they interact. Recognition of communities of living organisms is very old
but specific
recognition of the inter-relations of the organisms in a community is relatively
recent. Edward
Forbes in lE44 described the distribution of animals in British coastal waters a
nd part of the
Mediterranean Sea, and he wrote of zones of differing depths that were distingui
shed by the
associations of species they coftained.
Forbes noted that some species are found only in one rcne and that other species
have a
maximum of development in one zone but occur sparsely in other adjacent zones. M
ingled in are
stragglers that do not fit the zonation pattern- Forbes recognized the dynamic a
spect of the
interrelations between these organisms and their environment. As the environment
changed, one
species might die out, and other might increase in abundance Karl Mobus expresse
d similar
ideas in 1877 in a classic essay on the oyster-bed community as a unified collec
tion of species.
Studies of communities rvere greatly influenced by the Danish botanist J.E.B War
( 1895, 1909), one of the fathers of plant ecology. Warming was the first plant
ecologist to ask

questions about the composition of plant communities and the associations of spe
cies that made
up these communities.
The dynamics of vegetation change was emphasized first by North American plant
ecologists. In 1899 H.C. Cowles described plant succession on the sand dunes at
the southern end
of Lake Michigan. The development of vegetation was analyzed by the American eco
Frederick Clements (1916) in a classic book that began a long controversy about
the nature of
the community.
With the recognition of the broad problems of populations and communities, ecolo
gy was
by 1900 on the road becoming a science. Its roots lay in natural history, human
biometry (statisticat approach), and applied problems of agriculture and medicin
Until the 1970s ecology was not considered by society to be an important science
. The
continuing increase of the human population and the associated destruction of na
environments with pesticides and pollutants awakened to the public the world of
ecology. Much
of this recent interest centers on the human environment and human ecology, and
is called
Unfortunately, the word ecolqgy became identified in the public mind with the mu
niurower problems of the human environment and came to mean everything and anyth
ing about
the environment, especially human impact on the environment and its social ramif
ications. It is
important to distinguish ecotogy from environmental studies.
Ecology is focused on the natural world of animals and plants, and includes huma
ns as a
very significant species by virtue of its impact. Environmental studies are the
analysis of human
impact in the environrnent of the Earth - physical, chemical, md biological. Enn
?,studies as a discipline is much broader than ecology because it deals with man
y natural sciences including ecology, geology, and climatology - as well as with social sciences, s
uch as sociology,
economics anthropology, political science and philosophy.
The science of ecology is not solely concerned with human impact on the environm
but with the interrelations of all plants and animals. As such, ecology has much
to contribute to
some of the broad questions about humans and their environment that are an impor
tant scientific
component of environmental studies.
Environmental studies have led to 'environmentalism' and *deep ecology", social
movements with an important agenda for political and social change intended to m
inimize human
impact on the Earth. These social and political movements are indeed important a
nd are
supported by many ecologists, but they are not the science of ecology.
Ecology should be to environmental science as physics is to engineering. Just as

humans are constrained by the laws of physics when we build airplanes and bridge
s, so also are
we constrained by the principles of ecology when altering the environment.
Ecological research can shed liglrt on what wilt h"ppe*r when global temperahrre
increase as a result of increasing COz emissions, but it will not tell us what w
e ought to do about
these emissions, whether increased global temperature is good or bad. Ecological
scientists are
not policy makers or moral authorities, and should not as scientists make ethica
l or political
recommendations. However, on a personal level, most ecologists are concerned abo
ut the
extinction of species and would like to prevent extinction of species and rvould
like to preveril
exlinctions. Many ecologists work hard in the political arena to achieve the soc
ial goals of
Ecotogy is a broad discipline comprising m4ny subdisciptines, A common, broad
classification- moving from lowest to highest complexit-v, where complexity is,d
efined as the
. Eco.physiologr.and Behavioral ecologr - examine 4daptations of the individuat
to its
r Ecosystem,,etology., -,studies, the ,flows: of.'lene. qgT
' abiotic,componegts of ecosystems. ' '
-,', .
. Systems ecology - is,an interdisciplinary,field focusing on the study. develop
ment, and
organization of ecological syster-ns from a'holistic perspective. l
o Landscape:egology,-.,examrRes:proqesses.aud:relatonshrp acrossmultrple,gcosyst
ems or
Ecotogl cen also be sub-divided according to the species of interest into,ftelds
such as:
animal ccologr'. plant ecology, insect ecologr. and so on.
8, ,Ttre prirnary technique used tbr investrgatron is often used to subdiVidq th
e disqiptinelrntg
groups ru.1r usi. slie.(ni e-cology,,gonetic cology, fiefd,egology, siatistical.e
.ecology,andsofo4f,, r.,, . r ,
':t .l I I ::: : : I :
.: :. .: : .. I l
' ;. :t I : l I : l
', - T'hese fields,,a{o not.mutually exclusive; one',could be
ecologis! or a polar ecologist :interested in, animal genetics.
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- :-. :-- :: ".:: :'. :: ..-::
o' theoget-iial,pial-r! i
I ir I ':j
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15,.' TIIII{K-,CRIT,IC-ALLy'ABOU,TTTffi:.ENWE .r'' .' ',i . .".,,
Experts disagree about how serious our population and environmental problems are
what we should do about them. Some suggest that human ingenuity and technologica
l advances
will allow us to clean up pollution to acceptable levels, find substitutes for a
ny scilrce resources,
and keep expanding the earth's ability to support more humans.
Many leading ervironmental scientist disagree. They appreciate and applaud the
significart environmenhl and social progress tlut we have made but they also cit
e evideucc ttat
we rue degrading and disrupting the earth's life-support systems in many parts o
f the world at an
exponentially accelerating rate. They call for much more action to protect the n
atural capiAl that
supporls our economies and all life.
According to the environmental expert Lester
R. Brown, "We are entering a new world, one where
the collisions between our demands and the earth's
capacity to satisfu them are becoming daily events.
Our global economy is outgrowing the capacity of the
earth to support it. No economy, however
technological[y advanced, can survive the cofiapse of
its environment support systems."
Figure 1-6: The Collisions between our Demands
and the Earth's Capacity
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In 2005, the UN's Millennium Ecosystem Assessment was released. According to thi
four-year study by 1,360 experts from 95 countries, human activities are degradi
ng or using
unsustainably about 60% of the world's free natural services, that sustain life
on the earth. In
other words, we are living unsustainably.
This pioneering comprehensive examination of the health of the world's life-supp
systems is also a story of hope. It says we have the tools to preserve the plane
t's natural capital
by 2050 and describes common sense strategies for doing this.
The most useful answer to the question whether things are getting better or wors
e is both.
Some things arc siiiirig bctter and some arc gerting \\'orse.
Our challenge is to not get trapped into confusion and inaction by listening pri
marily to
either of two groups of peopte.
9Technological optimists tend to overstate the situation by telling us to be hap
py and not
to worry because technological innovations and conventional economic growth and
development will lead to a wonder world for everyone. ln contrast,
Environmentol pessimists overstate the problems to the point where our environme
situation seems hopeless. The noted conservationist Aldo Leopold argued, "I have
hope for a conservation based on fear."
In 2006, Lester R. Brown said, ".Susraining our current global civilization now
on shifting to a renewoble energt-based and a reuse/recycling economy with a div
transport system, employing a sustainable mix of light roils, buses, bicycles, a

nd cars. Making
this transition requires (l) restructuring the global economy so that it can sus
tain civilization, (2)
an all-out elfort to eradicate poverty, stabilize population ond restore hope, a
nd (3) a systenntic
efort to restore natural systems. With each wind farm roofiop solar pod, Wper re
facility, bicyle poth and reforestation program, we move closer to an economy th
at can sustain
economic progress.
The way we view the seriousness of environmental problems and how to solve them
depends on our environmental worldview and our environmental ethics. Differing v
iews abor.rt
the seriousness of our environmental problems and what we should do about them a
rise mostly
out of differing environmental worldviews and environmental ethics.
Your environmental worldview is a set of assumptions and values about how you th
the world should be. Environmental ethics is concerned with your beliefs about w
hat is right and
\lTong with how we treat the environment. Here are some important ethical questi
ons relating to
the environment.
. Why should we care about the environment?
Are rve the most important species on the planet or are we just one of the earth
's millions
of species?
r Do we have an obligation to see that our activities do not cause the premafure
of other species? Should we try to protect all species or only some? How do we d
which species to protect?
r Do we have an ethical obligation to pass on to future generations the extraord
natural world we have inherited in as good condition, if not better, as we inher
. Should every person be entitled to equal protection from environmental hazards
regardless to race, gender, age, national origin, income, social class, or nay o
ther factor?
This is the central ethical and political issue for what is known as the environ
justice movement.
People with lr'idelv differing environmental worldviews and ethical and cultural
can take the same data, be logically consistent, and arrive at quite different c
onclusions because
they start with different assumptions and moral pnnciples or values.
10l. Some people in today's industrial consumer societies have a planetary manag
worldview. This view holds that we are separate from the nature, that naflre exi
sts mainly to
meet our needs and increasing wants, and that we can use our ingenuity and techn
ology to
manage the earth's life-support systems, mostly for our benefit. It assumes that
economic growth
is unlimited.
2. A second environmental worldview, known as the stewardship worldview, holds t
hat we can
manage the earth for our benefit but that we have an ethical responsibility to b
e caring and

responsible managers or stewards, of the earth. It says we should encourage envi

beneficial forms of economic growth and discourage environmentally harmfirl form
3. Another worldview is the environmental wisdom worldview. It holds that we are
part of and
totatly dependent on nature and that nature exists for all species, notjust for
us. It also calls for
encouraging earth-sustaining forms of economic growth and development and discou
raging earthdegrading
forms. According to this view, our success depends on learning bow the earth sus
itself and integrating such environmental wisdom into the ways we think and act.
Many of the
ideas for the stewardship and environmental wisdom rvorldviews are derived from
the writings of
AIdo Leopold.
We can develop more sustainable economies and societies by mimicking the four ma
rvays that nature has adapted and sustained itself for several billion years. Ho
w can we live more
sustainably? According to ecologists and environmental scientist, we should find
out how life on
earth has survived and adapted for several bitlion years and use what we leam as
guidelines for
our lives and economies.
Science reveals that four basic components of the earth's natural sustainability
quite simple.
. Reliance on Solar Energy - the sun warrrls the planet and supports photosynthe
sis used
by plants to provide food for us and other animals. Biodiversity - a great variety of genes, species, ecosystems, and ecological p
have provided many ways to adapt to changing environmental condition throughout
3.7 billion year history of life on the earth
r Population Control - competition for limited resour s among species places a lim
it on
how much any one population can grow. If a population grows beyond those limits,
size decreases from changes in the birth rates and death rates of its members. [
n nature no
population can grow indefinitely.
o Nutrient Recycling - natural processes recycle all chemicals or nutrients that
plants and
animals need to stay alive and reproduce. In this recycling process, the wastes
or dead
bodies of all organisms become food or resources for other organisms. There is l
waste in nature.
11Using the four scientific principles of sustainabilit-v to guide our lifestyle
s and economies
could result inanenvironmental revolution during your lifetime.
Scientific evidence indicates that we have
perhaps 50 years and no more than 100
vears to rnake such a culfural change. You
will witness a historical fork in the road at
rvhich point we will choose a path toward
sustainability or continue on our current

unsustainable course. Everything you do or

don't do will play a role in which path we
take. A key to sustaining natural capital is
to build social capital by working togefher
to fiod comrnon ground and implementing
an informed and shared vision of a better
world based on hope. Figure 1-7: The Solar Energr .
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Making the shift to more sustainable societies and economies involves building
w'hat sociologists call social capital. This involves getting people with differ
ent views and values
to talk and listen to one another, find common ground and rvork together to buil
d understanding,
trust, and informed shared visions of what their communities, states, nations an
d the world could
and should be. This means nurturing openness, communications, cooperation, and h
ope and
di s c oura gi ng c lo s e - mi nde dne s s, po larizati on, c onf ontu ti on an
d fear.
Much of society today has become shrill and
less civil. People scream at one another, take strong
positions often without investigating the facts, and
refuse to listen to those rvith different ideas. This
behavior paralyzes attempts to find workable solutions
to common problems and leads to a loss of tlre most
powerful force for change - hope.
Figure 1-7: The Trade-off Solutions Chart
The important environmental issues we face are not black and white but rather al
shades of gray because proponents of all sides have some tegitimate and useful i
nsights. This
means that citizens should strive to build social capital by finding trade-off s
olutions - an
important theme of this book - to environmental problems and try to agree on a s
hared vision of
the future they rvani. Cnce a shared vision cn'stallizcs, citizens can rvork tog
ether to develop
strategies for implementing their vision beginning at the local level (Miller,20