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What are the branches of Ecology/definitions

The term ecology has its origin in the Greek words “oikos”, which means house or home, and “logos”, which means study or treatise. Ecology is one of the branches of biology that is responsible for studying the relationships between living beings and their environment, understood as the combination of abiotic and biotic factors. But do you want to know more about the Branches of ecology. The main ones and their definitions.

This science also studies the quantity and distribution of living organisms resulting from such a relationship, as well as the fundamental laws that control the way ecosystems function, which makes it an integrative science of other sciences such as geology, chemistry and physics, among others.

Abiotic factors are understood as those elements that make up the habitat and that do not have life (as human beings recognize life), among which we can mention humidity, temperature, solar lighting, PH, soil, oxygen and nutrients. And biotic factors are those living organisms that have influence on the ecosystem.

The field of study of ecology is the natural world, which offers a wide variety of objects to study, among which are natural resources, habitat, ecosystems, the greenhouse effect, solid waste, organic waste, biodiversity, groundwater, transgenic food and deforestation, to name just a few. What are the branches of Ecology?

Considering the accelerated growth of the population on a planetary level, the understanding of ecology becomes essential for the survival of the human species . The objective of this science is to provide knowledge about the way the planet works, as well as to provide evidence on the interdependence between nature and human beings, in order to be able to predict the consequences of human activity on the environment and So take the necessary steps to keep your balance.

Ecology study methods

Ecologists basically have two approaches or study methods when conducting their research. Autoecology and Synecology.


Autoecology studies species in their various relationships with the environment . This discipline carries out the study of the adaptation of a single species to abiotic factors.


Synecology specializes in the study of communities . Study individual environments and their relationship with the species that live there.

Ecology branches

According to the levels of organization studied, ecology is divided into four study areas: Individual (species), population, community and ecosystem. Here is a brief review of each of these areas of study.


This branch of ecology studies the relationships between a species and the population in which it lives . It focuses on studying the adaptations suffered by a species to inhabit a specific ecosystem. This includes the morphological (form), physiological (functioning), and ethological (behavioral) characteristics that allow it to cope with the biotic or abiotic conditions imposed by the ecosystem in which it lives. These adaptations are usually inherited, which makes them common in members of a population. What are the branches of Ecology?

Autoecology is the most basic step in ecology, studying species in relation to the top link. His study covers three aspects:

  • Physiological adaptations : these are changes that occur at the level of the organs that make up the body to adapt their functioning to environmental conditions. For example, the cactus, which has developed the ability to accumulate water inside to adapt to the lack of water in the environment, or the bat, which has adapted to the absence of light by developing a location system based on sound.
  • Morphological adaptations : these are changes that occur at the level of the external structure of organisms and that allow it to be confused with the environment, imitate its shape, imitate the shapes and colors of predators as a defense method, or changes in its structures to better adapt to the environment. half. For example, the batrachians, which go from a state of aquatic larvae to living on land.
  • Ethological adaptations : they are behavioral changes, mainly defense and reproduction, that animals present when facing environmental conditions. For example, the migrations of birds and aquatic mammals for breeding purposes.


Population ecology focuses its study on variations in the sizes and densities of populations measured in time and space. This is one of the branches of ecology that has provided more information about the functioning of ecological systems and evolution. Their study is primarily based on demographics.

This branch of ecology studies the dynamic characteristics of the population such as: density, age distribution, sex distribution, birth and death rates, biotic potential and migration factors, among other parameters to be evaluated.

Individuals are grouped together forming the same population and they can exchange their genetic material between settlers, or not. What are the branches of Ecology?

In addition, within the populations, there are many issues to be managed such as, for example, local medicine and health care, pest control, agriculture and livestock, food, and a long etcetera. In turn, populations are enriched by knowledge and discoveries, as well as by the contributions of their members.


The object of study of synecology is the communities . It analyzes how communities are structured in an ecosystem, the variations that these present over time, the relationships between the different species that make up the community and between ecosystems.

This analysis is done using two different perspectives:

  • Descriptive synecology : uses description as a study method. It is a static approach, since there is no contact with the community. This type of analysis provides information about the spatial distribution of a community, as well as data related to abundance and frequency.
  • Functional synecology : it is a dynamic study approach that uses two perspectives: on the one hand, it describes the evolution of two groups, evaluating the factors and influences that allow their existence in that environment, and on the other hand, it studies the exchanges of matter and energy between all the components of the ecosystem. What are the branches of Ecology?

Synecology studies the distribution of species in the environment, which can be divided into three:

  • Randomly , which means that all spaces have the same probability of being occupied, and that the presence of one species is not a factor that affects the location of another.
  • In a uniform way , which implies that all spaces have the same probability of being occupied, but the presence of one species affects the presence of another.
  • In a grouped way , which means that not all spaces have the same probability of being occupied, and that the presence of one species affects the presence of another.


An ecosystem is the space in which the sum total of all the interactions of living organisms (biotic factors) that occupy it and its non-living environment (abiotic factors) unfolds. In ecology, the main unit of study is the ecosystem.

Systems ecology is probably the most modern branch of ecology. It uses mathematical and computer models to achieve a broad understanding of ecological problems in an ecosystem. It studies the flows of matter and energy between abiotic components and organisms in different environments, as well as their regulation.

Other branches of ecology

There are other branches of ecology specialized in specific areas of study, such as:

  • Microbial ecology: studies microorganisms in their natural environment, whose activity is essential for the balance of life on the planet.
  • Mathematical ecology : it is dedicated to the application of theorems and the creation of mathematical methods applied to the problems of the relationship of living beings with their environment.
  • Urban ecology : studies the interrelationships between the inhabitants of urban groups and the surrounding environment. What are the branches of Ecology?
  • Recreation ecology : it is the scientific study of the relationships between human beings and nature, seen from a recreational perspective.
  • Landscape ecology : it is based on the study of natural landscapes and the human being as a transforming agent of their physical-ecological dynamics.
  • Limnology : it is the branch of ecology that specializes in the study of continental aquatic systems.
  • Dendroecology : His study focuses on the ecology of trees. Knowing the trees in depth allows us to study the past and discover the geographical processes that have occurred throughout evolution.
  • Regional ecology : Its frame of reference is the biome (a space that shares climate, flora and fauna), and its study focuses on ecosystem processes such as the greenhouse effect, the cycle of matter and the flow of energy. Consider large areas of land as a single ecosystem.

Ecology is a science that is beginning to gain strength and interest within the world community , because every day that passes there are more human beings who become aware of the damage we are doing to the planet due to our ignorance of the natural processes that sustain life in the planet.

But we are moving forward. There is more and more consciousness on the planet. And perhaps, in a very few years, we can see this science integrated into our lifestyle, and it will not only be a scientific area of ​​study, but it will be a way of living in harmony with nature. What are the branches of Ecology?

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