Environmental biology is the study of how organisms interact with their surroundings and adapt to changes in their surroundings. It investigates the links between biology, ecology, evolution, and conservation. Because it involves the study of humans in the environment, the word environmental biology has a broader meaning than ecology. 

Queries & Answers Related to Environmental Biology

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Why is Environmental Biology Important?

environmental biology
environmental biology
As a result, it can be accurately defined as, “It is the study of how environmental conditions influence various elements of life, such as morphology, physiology, growth, distribution, behavior, and survival. It is concerned with the interactions between living creatures and their surroundings.” The elements and forces that make up an organism’s environment surround it. The environment helps with energy supply and garbage collection. Both biotic (living) and abiotic (non-living) components must interact with live organisms. Environmental biology investigates all of these topics.

Environmental Biology provides a broad background in biology that is essential to understand the impact of humans on other organisms and their environments. It provides an understanding of ecology, the diversity and function of living organisms, the physical and chemical environment, and the ways organisms interact with, and affect, ecosystem processes. It involves ecosystem management, issues related to environmental change, and the consequences of interactions between humans and the environment.

Environmental Biologists

Environmental biologists are scientists who research the environment. Environmental biologists use crucial abilities such as assessing, studying, and comprehending animals and zoology. Environmental biologists research regional ecosystems, as well as the animals and fauna that live there. These experts assist in the protection and survival of animals within a certain ecosystem, as well as assessing the environmental impact of human activity.

Important Terms for Understanding Environmental Biology

Some important terms are shown in Table.

Table: Important Terms related to Environmental Biology

Term

 

Meaning/Definition

 

Organism

 

Any living thing

 

Habitat

 

The place where an organism lives

 

 

Population

 

Total number of one type of organism living in any one habitat

 

Community

 

The different populations of plants, animals and micro-organisms

found in a particular habitat

 

Gross Primary Production (GPP)

 

The total amount of solar energy converted into chemical energy by green plants through photosynthesis is called Gross Primary Production (GPP).

 

Net Primary Production (NPP)

 

Fraction of GPP utilized by green plants for their survival and the other fraction, which is available to transfer to other living organisms is called net primary production (NPP).

 

Niche

 

The role a species plays in a community: it’s total way of life. It defines the position of species within an ecosystem. It describes both the range of conditions necessary for the survival of species and their ecological role.

 

Plankton

 

Minute floating organism, usually found in surface water Movement of plankton depends on the direction of water current.

 

Bio-Magnification/Bio-Accumulation

 

The ability of living organisms to accumulate certain chemicals to a concentration higher than that present in the environment. Some examples of chemicals resulting in bio-magnification are

 

  1. Chlorinated hydrocarbons
  2. DDB
  3. PCB’s which are insoluble in water but soluble in fats

Biodiversity

 

Every eco-system possesses several types of species including producers, consumers of different tropical levels. Many species have become extinct and some other species have appeared. This natural diversion of species is called biodiversity.

 

Receptor

 

An organism which receives pollutants and thus affected.

 

Sink

 

Material that can retain pollutants for a long period and get interacted with them, e.g., marble.

 

Specification

 

Pollutants may exist in different forms. Method of determination of different forms of pollutants is called specification, e.g., mercury exists as element H2g and CH3Hg+.

 

Bioremediation

 

Use of microbes such as bacteria and some fungus to break- down pollutants into less toxic and simple organics.

 

Flora

 

Plants (or referring to plants)

Fauna

 

Animals (or referring to animals)

 

 

Key areas of inquiry in Environmental Biology

Study of Life in Biosphere

To begin, environmental biology is concerned with the study of the underlying organization of living forms, including the basics and variety, as well as the influence of biotic and abiotic environmental circumstances on life. As a result, environmental biology is typically restricted to the biosphere and includes both terrestrial and marine biomes. A number of characteristics and concepts are common to the study of all living creatures. At all levels of study, comprehension of the material and energy requirements of life is based on the formation and activity of cells. The intricacy and variety of the interrelationships between the cell and its environment have grown as a result of their development and evolution. This field of study examines the main organizational characteristics of living forms in relation to environmental systems, as well as how biologists identify and characterize the various living forms.

Basic Ecological Concepts and Processes

Secondly, environmental biology is focused on the study of ecology and ecological principles. In some literature, ecology and environmental biology are treated as interchangeable concepts. However, environmental biology is much broader in scope and ecology is just its subcomponent. Major concepts studied under this component include the study of energy in ecosystems, food chains and food webs and biogeochemical cycles and material recycling

Study of Conditions and Resources

It also covers the primary factors of ecology, which include environmental conditions and resources. A multitude of factors impacts the distribution and abundance of a species. Evolutionary history, birth, mortality, and migration rates, as well as the type of intraspecific (inside a species) and interspecific (between species) interactions, are among them. Most species’ dominating variables, however, may be categorized as either circumstances or resources, with some species having both.

Temperature, moisture, pH, and salinity are examples of abiotic environmental variables that fluctuate in both space and time and to which organisms respond differently. Although the presence of other creatures might change a situation, the organism never consumes or uses it. As a result, it is never a source of competition, while being a common driver of adaptive development. This separates it from a nutrient, food item, or space that organisms eat or use up, and which is frequently the subject of severe intraspecific and/or interspecific competition. Hutchinson introduced the notion of the ecological niche based on organisms’ reactions to circumstances and resources (1957). A niche is a multidimensional (conditions and resources) space (hyper volume) capable of supporting a sustainable population.

Study of Individuals

Most ecological studies have been founded on the concept of individuals who are born, grow, die, emigrate, and are immigrants, i.e., assuming that an individual is an easily identified species unit, each species has a variable genotype (genetic content) despite the phenotypes (the outward expression of the genotype after interaction with the environment, i.e., appearance and physiology) being similar in most respects. Environmental biology mainly deals with the complexities of interactions within or between populations, communities, or higher groupings. However, the fundamental units are the individuals whose biology is shaped by natural selection acting on species populations. It is the responses of these individuals to environmental conditions and resource requirements that form the basis of the more complex interactions at the population and community levels. In short, it studies ecological physiology along with concepts of resistance, tolerance, and adaptation. It also studies metabolic rate, behavior, reproduction, life cycles and life history strategy, and feeding strategies mechanisms of individuals.

Study of Populations

Individuals of the same species living in a specific geographical area form population. Although clonal forms formed through asexual reproduction or parthenogenesis will be quite similar, no two individuals are exactly the same in terms of physical, physiological, or behavioral characteristics. Even genetically identical individuals can differ due to growth and development variances. This variant provides the starting point for natural selection. The goal of this research is to characterize and discuss the characteristics of populations as well as the internal and external factors that influence them.

Communities and Ecosystems in Relationship

An ecological community is a dynamic collection of species populations that exist at the same time and in the same place within a common, defined habitat or environment; they are integrated and interact in such a way that other members of the community are influenced. The term “phytosociology” refers to the study of plant aggregations, although it now refers to all organisms. Most communities are made up of people from several kingdoms. A complex web of connections connects groups of populations that make up a community, directly or indirectly linking all of its members in a web. Although this network is heavily focused on competitive and predator-prey dynamics, many of the linkages are transient or obscure. Plants that require animals for pollination or dispersal, as well as facultative or obligate mutualism, where one species’ performance is boosted or dependent on the presence of another organism, are examples.

Because community dynamics are so complicated, our understanding of them is still restricted. Its significance in predicting environmental impacts and developing environmental conservation and management plans, however, cannot be emphasized. Because of the inherent difficulty of seeing, measuring, and testing within such complex systems, community ecology research has mostly been descriptive. A lake community and a grassland community, for example, are defined by the environment or habitat in which they occur, or by the dominating species in the association. Communities can range in size from the microbial communities found in herbivorous mammals’ rumens to large swaths of tropical rainforests. Why do the same groups of creatures reappear over and over? The answer is found in the concept of the ecological niche and the system’s feeding interactions.


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