GC: n

CT: Ecology is the study of environmental systems, or as it is sometimes called, the economy of nature. “Environmental” usually means relating to the natural, versus human-made world; the “systems” means that ecology is, by its very nature, not interested in just the components of nature individually but especially in how the parts interact. Ecology is technically an academic discipline, such as mathematics or physics, although in public or media use, it is often used to connote some sort of normative or evaluative issue as in something is “ecologically bad” or is or is not “good for the ecology”. More properly ecology is used only in the sense that it is an academic discipline, no more evaluative than mathematics or physics. When a normative or evaluative term is needed then it is more proper to use the term “environmental”, i.e., environmental quality or “environmentally degrading”. Most professional ecologists are not terribly unhappy when ecology is used in the normative sense, preferring the wider public awareness of environmental issues today compared to the widespread ignorance of three decades ago.

S: (last access: 28 August 2014)

N: 1. 1873, oecology, “branch of science dealing with the relationship of living things to their environments,” coined in German by German zoologist Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919) as Ökologie, from Greek oikos “house, dwelling place, habitation” + -logia “study of”. In use with reference to anti-pollution activities from 1960s.
2. ecology, also called bioecology, bionomics, or environmental biology, study of the relationships between organisms and their environment. Some of the most pressing problems in human affairs—expanding populations, food scarcities, environmental pollution including global warming, extinctions of plant and animal species, and all the attendant sociological and political problems—are to a great degree ecological.
3. The word ecology was coined by the German zoologist Ernst Haeckel, who applied the term oekologie to the “relation of the animal both to its organic as well as its inorganic environment.” The word comes from the Greek oikos, meaning “household,” “home,” or “place to live.” Thus, ecology deals with the organism and its environment. The concept of environment includes both other organisms and physical surroundings. It involves relationships between individuals within a population and between individuals of different populations.

S: 1. OED – (last access: 28 August 2014). 2 & 3. EncBrit – (last access: 28 August 2014).

SYN: bioecology, bionomics, environmental biology.

S: EncBrit – (last access: 28 August 2014)

CR: air pollution, biotope, biome, carbon dioxide, environment, green construction, green tax, household waste recycling centre, industrial ecology, keystone species, light pollution, microclimate, natural environment, phenology, soil pollution, sustainable agriculture, tropospheric ozone, umbrella species, waste of electrical and electronic equipment.