Branches of Ecology

    Branches of Ecology

    From the most gigantic known animal to the smallest bacterium, it is already given that the survival of any organism still is dependent on its adaptability to its physical and chemical environment.

    To start with, ecology is the study of the interaction of living organisms with their physical environment. Ecology comes from the two Greek words “Oikos” meaning “household” and “logia” meaning “study of“; hence literally meaning “study of the household“.

    In 1873, the term “ecology” was finally coined by scientist Ernst Haeckel. See the full history of ecology and its timeline in detail here.

    Ecology alone is a large discipline as it covers all organisms on Earth. Back then, the focus of the first ecologists are only on either plants and animals (thus only plant ecology and animal ecology exist).

    But later on, due to newly discovered knowledge and the advancement of technology, this division of ecology was no longer used. Instead, the study of ecology was again divided into two major subdivisions: autoecology and synecology.

    On one hand, autoecology deals with the study of ecology and ecosystems in single species up to the population level. On the other hand, synecology focuses on a larger level as it examines ecology at communities on spatial and temporal levels.

    Because of the still broad categories, ecology is further divided into several specialized branches that focus on a wide variety of topics. Listed below are the ten major branches of ecology.

    Branches of Ecology

    • Terrestrial Ecology

      Terrestrial Ecology

      Terrestrial ecology is a branch of ecology that deals with the study of land organisms and how they interact with each other and adapt to their environment. Aside from that, the diversity and distribution of different organisms in various terrestrial habitats are also being focused on.

      • Terrestrial ecology has a wide variety of applications like resources management, and in the long run, be effective for conservation measures.
      • Additionally, soil properties like moisture, pH, nutrient and chemical content, and soil type may be studied.

    • Aquatic Ecology

      Aquatic Ecology

      Basically the opposite of terrestrial ecology, aquatic ecology deals with the study of the ecosystems found in bodies of water, be it the marine, freshwater, or the estuarine.

      • Aquatic ecology focuses on the interactions among living organisms in a particular aquatic habitat which can directly affect various factors in the ecosystem. Such factors include competition for food and predation, temperature, nutrient concentration, and oxygen demand.

    • Microbial Ecology

      Microbial Ecology

      Microbial ecology focuses on the study of how communities of microorganisms establish themselves on abiotic substrates and how such organizations enable them to interact with each other.

      • The scope of microbial ecology is quite huge as it can cover the vast micro-flora in animal guts, the seemingly simple yet actually genotypically complicated bacterial communities called the biofilms, and the complex relationship between prokaryotes and eukaryotes that somehow led to their divergence.

    • Systems Ecology

      Systems Ecology

      Systems ecology is a branch of ecology that tackles various abiotic factors like energy budget allocation and physical processes such as carbon cycle and biogeochemical cycles.

      • This branch of ecology is distinctive because it integrates other scientific disciplines like applied mathematics and computer systems to study and predict structures and function in a given ecosystem.

    • Taxonomic Ecology

      Taxonomic Ecology

      The next branch of ecology might be new to some as it incorporates two field of studies that may not appear to work often. Basically, taxonomic ecology is a new concept in this field.

      • The use of taxonomic data is highly important as it improves the study of the ecosystems by helping identify key organisms present in that area. Aside from that, this branch of ecology helps in the easier classification of organisms, whether each act accordingly or antagonistically with each other in the community level.

    • Evolutionary Ecology

      Evolutionary Ecology

      Evolutionary ecology merges the two scientific studies of evolution and ecology and focuses on the the physical and genetic changes that occurred among organisms and how such modifications were affected by ecological factors.

      • Basically, it also considers the effect of forces like competition, predation, parasitism, and mutualism in the evolution of individual species, in a population, or in the entire community.

    • Population Ecology

      Population Ecology

      As its name suggests, population ecology deals with the study of population structures and dynamics, rather than looking at the individual behavioral patterns of living organisms.

      • Population ecology studies the various factors that affect population size, density, dispersion modes, and growth rate and mortality rate.

    • Behavioral Ecology

      Behavioral Ecology

      The next branch of ecology, behavioral ecology, integrates the study of the interaction between survival value to the behavior of organisms and their offspring. Interestingly, it somehow related to evolutionary as it examines how an organism changes its behavior to ensure survival and perpetuation.

      • At present, this branch of ecology attempts to find the link between an animal’s behavior to its environmental adaptation and reproductive success.

    • Conservation Ecology

      Conservation Ecology

      Conservation ecology, as its name suggests, studies the management of biodiversity through conservation and restoration methods. This branch of ecology had just recently evolved to address the decreasing biodiversity and deteriorating natural resources in the planet.

      • This branch is interdisciplinary and utilizes principles from genetics, biogeography, population biology, environmental ethics, and law to help in ensuring the conservation of species and their habitats.

    • Applied Ecology

      Applied Ecology

      Bringing together all the concepts and principles of ecology, applied ecology aims to apply these significant knowledge, findings, and technological advances to understand real world situations and to address practical human problems.

      • Applied ecology includes applications like management of wildlife and natural resources, epidemiology, and even natural disaster risk reduction and management.
      • The scope of applied ecology is huge and encompasses the fields of biotechnology, ecology, to study how anthropogenic activities affect not only micro-systems but the biosphere as well.

    Ecological Pyramids

    Explore Ecological Pyramid: 3 Major Types and Limitations

    Ecological pyramids serve as the representation of the relationship among organisms in an ecosystem. Learn their overview, 3 major types & limitations here.
    Threats To Diversity

    Top 6 Major Threats To Biodiversity

    Biodiversity refers to the variety of life forms on Earth. Here, we explore 6 of the biggest threats to biodiversity and how do each of them contribute to its loss.
    Tropical Rainforest Animal Adaptations

    Top 7 Tropical Rainforest Animal Adaptations

    The competition for food and resources in tropical rainforests is intense. Explore the 7 tropical rainforest animal adaptations that allow them to survive.
    Rainforests in the world

    Top Spectacular Rainforests of The World

    Rainforests are considered the planet’s oldest ecosystems. Here are the top most spectacular rainforests in the world (from different continents) & facts.
    Amazon Rainforest Plants

    Top 18 Amazon Rainforest Plants

    The Amazon Rainforest is considered the home of the most diverse species in the world. Learn the top 18 Amazon rainforest plants & their details here.
    Layers of the rainforest

    Explore The Layers Of The Rainforest

    Among all biomes, tropical rainforests are considered to have the highest biodiversity. The rainforest is divided into 4 layers: the emergent layer, the canopy layer, the understory, and the forest floor. These layers host several species of tropical animals and tropical plants. Explore the layers of the rainforest here.
    Types of Rainforest Monkeys

    Top 27 Types of Monkeys Live In Rainforest

    Rainforests are biomes that have a rich flora and fauna. Animal species diversity is highest in the rainforests than anywhere else on earth. This article discusses 27 rainforest monkeys that are found in different rainforest regions of the world.
    desert birds

    Explore Desert Birds & Their Adaptations

    A desert is a barren landscape area with little to no water (no precipitation) found which makes the living condition extremely hostile for plants and animals. Explore 15 different types of desert birds and their adaptations on this page.
    Current Environmental Issues in the USA

    Top 15 Current Environmental Issues in the US

    Being the third largest country in the world, the United States of America has emerged as one of the significantly affected regions from the top 15 environmental issues.
    biomass energy pros and cons

    Top 20 Biomass Energy Pros and Cons

    Biomass energy is produced from organic materials which come from living organisms. Explore the top 20 biomass energy pros and cons here.
    Ecology News in 2018

    15 Leading Ecology News of 2018

    It is a truth universally acknowledged by scientists: climate change is real as well as global pollution of air, water, and soil. In order for us to survive, we need to know as much as possible about the dangers of today.
    Wildlife Biology Degree Programs

    Top 15 Wildlife Biology Degree Programs In The USA

    Explore the best wildlife biology degree programs offered in these top 15 best universities or colleges in the US. Almost all degree programs offered on the subjects teach ecology & conservation principles.
    Discoveries in Ecology 2019

    Top 10 Discoveries in Ecology 2019

    Due to climate change and destructive human activity, news in the ecology area in 2019 is quite contrary. Here are the top 10 discoveries in ecology 2019.
    Ecology News 2020

    Top 10 Ecology News of 2020

    BioExplorer team presents the newest 2020 discoveries that showcase what is becoming of the ecosystems on our planet. Find top 10 ecology news of 2020.
    Greenhouse Gases

    Explore Types of Greenhouse Gases As Agents Of Climate Change

    Behind the struggle to combat increasing global temperature & rapidly changing climate lies the excessive production of greenhouse gases that eventually get trapped in the atmosphere. Let's explore what greenhouse gases are, their types, and, most importantly, their contributions to climate change.
    Ocean Animal Adaptations

    Explore 15 Remarkable Adaptations of Ocean Inhabitants

    In the realm of flora and fauna, the ocean presents itself as an immense tapestry of diverse habitats. Embark on a journey through the 15 most extraordinary adaptations of ocean creatures.

    What Animals Live In Rainforests?

    Discover the incredible biodiversity of the tropical rainforest. Dive deep into the habitats of rainforest animals, from the elusive jaguar to pink-toe tarantulas.
    Tundra Animal Adaptations

    Top 18 BEST Tundra Animal Adaptations

    The coldest areas on Earth, such as regions close to the North Pole and the South Pole, have unique features. Here are the top 18 tundra animal adaptations.

    What Is Biological Magnification?

    Understand biological magnification - how toxins accumulate exponentially up food chains to dangerous levels in top predators. Unpack biomagnification impacts, sources, and solutions.

    You have just seen the many branches of ecology as well as their focus and specifications. You have also learned about how this field of study had come to inspire another non-biological field of discipline. Indeed, ecology is a holistic science.

    Through these branches of ecology, the understanding of the basic concepts of ecosystems and the interaction between organisms and their habitats can direct to the better control and utilization of such natural systems. In your own perspective, what other things can ecology teach us?

    Cite This Page

    APA7MLA8Chicago (2024, April 13). Branches of Ecology. Bio Explorer. "Branches of Ecology" Bio Explorer, 13 April 2024, "Branches of Ecology" Bio Explorer, April 13 2024.


    • “Online Etymology Dictionary”. Accessed August 14, 2017. Link.
    • “Top 21 Specialized Branches of Ecology – Discussed!”. Accessed August 14, 2017. Link.
    • “Introduction to Aquatic Ecology – Regional Aquatics Monitoring Program (RAMP)”. Accessed August 14, 2017. Link.
    • “Microbial Ecology and Ecosystems – Microbial Evolution and Co-Adaptation – NCBI Bookshelf”. Accessed August 14, 2017. Link.
    • “Evolutionary ecology – Latest research and news | Nature”. Accessed August 14, 2017. Link.
    • “Conservation Ecology | Graduate Group in Ecology”. Accessed August 14, 2017. Link.

    More Resources

    • “Best environmental directories”. Accessed August 14, 2017. Link.
    • “Biospherics | Explorations of the Earth's Biosphere”. Accessed August 14, 2017. Link.
    • “Carpathian Biosphere Reserve”. Accessed August 14, 2017. Link.
    • “Ecozones”. Accessed August 14, 2017. Link.
    • “Diversity of Life Web Index”. Accessed August 14, 2017. Link.
    • “Leadership Development Center | Colorado Retreat | The Nature Place”. Accessed August 14, 2017. Link.
    • “The Long Term Ecological Research Network | Long-term, broad-scale research to understand our world”. Accessed August 14, 2017. Link.


    1. […] Ecologists look at the science behind how organisms interact with their surrounding environment, including living (biotic) and non-living (abiotic) things. An example might be how humans impact the environment. […]


    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here