Ecology (from Greek: οἶκος, "house" or "living relations"; -λογία, "study of") is the scientific study of the distributions, abundance, share affects, and relations of organisms and their interactions with each other in a common environment. The word ecology is also used in the medical field which has a somewhat different meaning. The definition here applies to the study of Nature. Ecology is the study of the interactions between life and its physical environment; the relationship between animals and plants and how one species affect another. A component in ecological study usually focuses on the ecosystem of an area. An ecosystem is the unique network of animal and plant species who depends on the other to sustain life. The interactions between and among organisms at every stage of life and death can impact the system. An ecosystem can be a small area or big as the ocean. In fact, one can say the whole world is one big ecosystem. So an ecologist could be studying and researching everything from the tiniest forms of life like bacteria to every chain of organisms it affects and how those organisms can impact the tropical rain forests, the deserts, the oceans, the atmosphere, etc. The discipline of ecology emerged from the natural sciences in the late 19th century. Ecology is not synonymous with environment, environmentalism, or environmental science. Ecology is closely related to the disciplines of physiology, evolution, genetics and behavior.
Like many of the natural sciences, a conceptual understanding of ecology is found in the broader details of study, including:
- life processes explaining adaptations
- Distribution and abundance of organisms
- The movement of materials and energy through living communities
- The successional development of ecosystems, and
- The abundance and distribution of biodiversity in context of the environment.
Ecology is distinguished from natural history, which deals primarily with the descriptive study of organisms. It is a sub-discipline of biology, which is the study of life.
There are many practical applications of ecology in conservation biology, wetland management, natural resource management (agriculture, forestry , fisheries), city planning (urban ecology), community health, economics, basic & applied science and it provides a conceptual framework for understanding and researching human social interaction (human ecology).