Q:

Why is ecology important?

A:

Ecology is important because of the insights it provides about the ways in which people and nature depend on one another. Understanding the workings of ecological systems more completely allows for predictions about the ways human activities affect the health of the earth over time.

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People who study ecology focus on ways to preserve different types of habitats and the biodiversity within each. One particular biome that is at risk is the heathlands of Western Europe. Researchers have looked at heather (the primary plant in this biome) to understand ways that the traditional management techniques (cutting, burning or grazing) influenced the species living inside it. This research has yielded ways to manage and conserve the heathland more effectively, allowing its unique species to thrive.

While global warming is a hot topic in the media, ecological researchers identify specific mechanisms that are causing climate change around the world. While fossil fuel consumption takes up much of the media space devoted to global warming, ecologists focus more on the specific effects of global warming on different species within different biomes, by analyzing the potential effects of elevated amounts of different toxins and gases in the environment, with particular emphasis on forestry and crop yields as well as distribution of animal and plant species after global temperatures elevate.

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