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Unique plants in the Ruwenzori Mountains, SW Uganda, Bujuku Valley, at about 12,139 feet (3,700 metre) elevation)
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Ecology, also referred to as ecological science, is the scientific study of the distribution and abundance of living organisms and how the distribution and abundance are affected by interactions between the organisms and their environment. The environment of an organism includes both physical properties, which can be described as the sum of local abiotic factors such as solar insolation, climate and geology, as well as the other organisms that share its habitat. The term Ökologie was coined in 1866 by the German biologist Ernst Haeckel; the word is derived from the Greek οικος (oikos, "household") and λόγος (logos, "study"); therefore "ecology" means the "study of the household (of nature)".

Ecology is also a human science. There are many practical applications of ecology in conservation biology, wetland management, natural resource management (agriculture, forestry, fisheries), city planning (urban ecology), community health, economics, basic and applied science and human social interaction (human ecology)

(Pictured left: Unique plants in the Ruwenzori Mountains, SW Uganda, Bujuku Valley, at about 12,139 feet (3,700 metre) elevation)

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An alligator in the Florida Everglades, the largest wetland system in the United States.
Pictured left: An alligator in the Florida Everglades, the largest wetland system in the United States.

A wetland is an area of land whose soil is saturated with moisture either permanently or seasonally. Such areas may also be covered partially or completely by shallow pools of water. Wetlands include swamps, marshes, and bogs, among others. The water found in wetlands can be saltwater, freshwater, or brackish. The world's largest wetland is the Pantanal which straddles Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay in South America. The study of wetlands has recently been termed paludology in some publications.

Wetlands are found on every continent except Antarctica, and are considered the most biologically diverse of all ecosystems. Plant life found in wetlands includes mangrove, water lilies, cattails, sedges, tamarack, black spruce, cypress, gum, and many others. Animal life includes many different amphibians, reptiles, birds, insects, and mammals. In many locations, such as the United Kingdom, Iraq, South Africa and the United States, wetlands are the subject of conservation efforts and Biodiversity Action Plans.

The UN Millennium Ecosystem Assessment determined that environmental degradation is more prominent within wetland systems than any other ecosystem on Earth. International conservation efforts and the development of rapid assessment tools are being used in conjunction with each other to inform people about wetland issues.

Wetlands also serve as natural wastewater purification systems—e.g., in Calcutta and Arcata. Many wetland systems possess biofilters, hydrophytes, and organisms that in addition to nutrient up-take abilities have the capacity to remove toxic substances that have come from pesticides, industrial discharges, and mining activities, the up-take occurs through most parts of the plant including the stems, roots, and leaves . Floating plants can absorb and filter heavy metals. Eichhornia crassipes (water hyacinth), Lemna (duckweed) and Azolla (water fern) store iron and copper commonly found in wastewater. Many fast-growing plants rooted in the soils of wetlands such as Typha (cattail) and Phragmites (reed) also aid in the role of heavy metal up-take. Animals such as the oyster can filter more than 200 liters (53 gallons) of water per day while grazing for food, removing nutrients, suspended sediments, and chemical contaminants in the process.

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Bee swarm on fallen tree02.jpg
Credit: User:Fir0002

A bee swarm of Apis mellifera ligustica (the Italian bee), a sub-species of the western honey bee (Apis mellifera), on a fallen log

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Sergei Nikolaievich Winogradsky (September 14, 1856 – February 25, 1953) (or Vinogradskyi) was a Ukrainian-Russian microbiologist, ecologist and soil scientist who pioneered the cycle of life concept. He discovered the first known form of lithotrophy during his research with Beggiatoa in 1887, he reported in Winogradsky S (1887). "Über Schwefelbakterien". Bot. Zeitung (45): 489–610.  that Beggiatoa oxidized hydrogen sulfide (H2S) as an energy source and formed intracellular sulfur droplets. This research provided the first example of lithotrophy, but not autotrophy, his research on nitrifying bacteria would report the first known form of chemoautotrophy, showing how a lithotroph fixes carbon dioxide (CO2) to make organic compounds.

Winogradsky is best known for discovering chemoautotrophy, which soon became popularly known as chemosynthesis, the process by which organisms derive energy from a number of different inorganic compounds and obtain carbon in the form of carbon dioxide.

Did you know...

...industrial ecology is the study of material and energy flows through industrial systems? The global industrial economy can be modeled as a network of industrial processes that extract resources from the Earth and transform those resources into commodities which can be bought and sold to meet the needs of humanity.
(Pictured left: Example of Industrial Symbiosis. Waste steam from a waste incinerator (right) is piped to an ethanol plant (left) where it is used as in input to their production process.)
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Every day is Earth Day.

—Author unknown

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Mother Earth News (ISSN: 0027-1535) is a bi-monthly American magazine that has a circulation of 475,000. It is based in Topeka, Kansas. Approaching environmental problems from a down-to-earth, practical, how-to standpoint, Mother Earth News has, since the magazine’s founding in 1970, been a pioneer in the promotion of renewable energy, recycling, family farms, saner agricultural practices, better eating habits, medical self-care, more meaningful education and affordable housing.

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