Introduction to Ecology and Environmental Science

By Keith Bailey,2014-05-29 22:50
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Introduction to Ecology and Environmental Science

    Introduction to Ecology and Environmental Science


     Greek Oikos = the home or household

     -ology = study of

Hierarchical organization in biology

     Organism - a unique individual

     Population - group of potentially interbreeding individuals (i.e., species)

     Community - all populations within an ecosystem (i.e., multiple species)

     Ecosystem - community + physical environment Biosphere - ecosystems of the Earth

Ecological subdisciplines

     Behavioral ecology

     Population ecology

     Community ecology

     Ecosystem ecology

Behavioral ecology

     How does behavior contribute to survivorship, reproduction and population


Population ecology

     What controls the abundance of a species? How do populations grow?

     What are the controls on population growth rate?

Community ecology

     Interactions among organisms within and across environments

     Biodiversity on earth

     Preservation of species-rich areas

Ecosystem ecology

     Passage of energy and nutrients through communities

     Effects of energy and nutrients on communities

     Human alterations of global cycles

Spatial scale

     A space occupied by an individual (behavioral ecology)

     A local patch occupied by many individuals (a population) A large enough space to comprise multiple populations (a community) A biogeographic scale large enough to encompass a community, and its nutrients and energy cycles (an ecosystem)

Temporal scale

     Proper choice of scale depends on phenomenon and species studied

     Short-scale studies for behavioral responses

     Longer-scale studies for population dynamics and ecosystem processes


     Ecology is an integrative/ interdisciplinary science

     Understanding of the biological (biotic) and physical (abiotic) sciences Provides a context for the reductionist sciences in biology Closely tied to genetics and evolution

     Ecology can be studied at different spatial and temporal scales Includes the role of humans in their environment


     Humans have always inhabited both the natural world and the social world Environment for humans includes the complex of social or cultural conditions that affect an individual or community

Environmental science

     Environmental science is a systematic study of our environment, and our place in it

     Interdisciplinary and integrative

     Mission Oriented Implies that we have a responsibility to get involved and

    solve the problems we have created

What is environmental science?

     Application of all fields of natural science toward solving environmental problems

     Laws, ethics, economics, and other aspects of human behavior will play a key role in solving environmental problems.

Environmental ethics

     Ethics is a branch of philosophy:

     Morals: Distinction between right and wrong

     Values: Ultimate worth of actions or things

     Environmental ethics deals with the moral relationships between humans and the surrounding world.

Environmental justice

     Environmental justice combines civil rights and environmental protection to demand a safe, healthy environment for all people

     People of color around the world are subjected to a disproportionately high

    level of environmental health risks

     Environmental racism

Environmental justice

     Toxic colonialism - Targeting poor communities in areas or countries for waste disposal and/or experimentation

     Native American Reservations

     Moving operations to countries where environmental regulations are lax

Environmental science: past and present

    Historical perspective

     Four distinct stages:

     Pragmatic resource conservation

     Moral and aesthetic nature preservation

     Modern environmentalism

     Global environmentalism

Nature protection is not new!

     Habitat destruction noted by Aristotle and Plato in classical Greek period Conservation management practiced by agrarian societies

     Private game management, royal preserves and private manor lands

     commons not considered

     One quarter of Mauritius set aside for protection in 1769 by French governor

History of American resource management

     American Indians

     American colonists

     nature as economic resource

     nature as “evil”

Pragmatic resource conservation

     George Perkins Marsh - Man and Nature

     Influenced Theodore Roosevelt and his chief conservation advisor

    Gifford Pinchot

     Pragmatic Utilitarian Conservation

    ? “Greatest good for the greatest number for the longest time”

    ? For people that live here now, not in the future

    ? Multiple Use Policies of USFS came out of this ethic

     Roosevelt, Pinchot and others are responsible for creating framework

    of national park, wildlife refuges and forests

Moral and aesthetic nature preservation

     John Muir - President of Sierra Club

     Nature deserves to exist for its own sake - regardless of degree of

    usefulness to humans (Biocentric Preservation)

     Disagreed with Pinchot about damming of river

Modern environmentalism

     Industrial explosion of WW II added new concerns to the environmental


     Rachel Carson - Silent Spring (1962)

Modern environmentalism

     Environmental agenda expanded in 1960’s and 70’s to include:

     Human population growth

     Atomic weapons testing

     Fossil fuel issues

     Air pollution

     Wilderness protection

Global environmentalism

     Increased technology has greatly expanded international awareness Recognizes that we are a global village

     Includes social justice

    Environmental issues are complex

     Chemical contamination

     UV radiation

     Solar radiation

     Parasite infection

Current conditions

     Human Population > 6 Billion 85 million added per year

     Food shortages and famines

     Water quantity and quality issues

     Fossil fuel burning

     Air and water pollution

     Global climate change

     Landscape destruction

     Loss of biodiversity

Invasive species

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