The Essential World of Ecology

Ecology is all around us. From communities of nesting birds high among trees to toads and fish swimming through marshy ponds, these are the habitats millions of species call home. But what exactly is ecology? It's the network of all the essential components needed for a species to thrive in: a food chain and supply, an environment, shelter and sources of nutrients. All of these factors breed biodiversity, or the collection of a wide range of species, traits, genetic advantages and disadvantages, and capabilities. Ecological preservation important because humankind does not exist in a bubble, we rely on a long chain of other species to help us get along in our own environment—and ecologies rely on each other. For example, many humans consume meat products—but do most people realize those animals ate grass, feed and other living beings in order to sustain themselves? When one aspect of a species' environment is disturbed, the effects ripple through the rest of the food chain.

Recent phenomena such as the melting of polar ice caps, the uptick in carbon emissions and a fickle water supply all put intense pressure on Earth's fragile ecosystems. In addition, the extinction of crucial members of the food chain places undue stress on many environments already struggling to survive. So what can we do about it? To get started, check out this playlist to learn more about various ecosystems.

Written by Curiosity Staff August 25, 2014

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