McNaughton, Samuel J. Department of Biology, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York.
Last reviewed:June 2019
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- Population ecology
- Systems ecology
- Applied ecology
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The subdiscipline of biology that concentrates on the relationships between organisms and their environments. Ecology, also called environmental biology, 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 the abundance of organisms 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 science 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). See also: Biology; Environment
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