Top 21 Specialized Branches of Ecology – Discussed!

Some of the most important Specialized Branches of Ecology are as follows:

Early ecologists have recognized two major subdivisions of ecology in particular reference to animals or to plants, hence animal ecology and plant ecology.


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But when it was found that in the eco­systems plants and animals are very closely associated and inter­related, then, both of these major ecological subdivisions became vague. However, when animals and plants are given equal emphasis, the term bioecology is used.

Further, ecology is often broadly divided into autecology and synecology. Autecology deals with the ecological study of one species of organism. Thus, an autecologist may study the life history, popu­lation dynamics, behaviour, home range and so on, of a single species, such as the Mexican free-tailed bat, Indian bull frog, or maize-borer, Chilo partellus. Synecology deals with the ecological studies of com­munities or entire ecosystems.

Thus, a synecologist might study deserts, or caves or tropical forests. He is interested in des­cribing the overall energy and material flow through the system rather than in concentrating on the finer details of a particular organism. In the words of Herreid II (1977) “the two types of study, autecology and synecology, inter-relate, the synecologist painting with a broad brush the outline of the picture and autecologist strok­ing in the finer details.”

Specialized Branches of Ecology

Besides these major ecological subdivisions, there are follow­ing specialized branches of ecology:

1. Habitat ecology:

It deals with ecological study of different habitats on planet earth and their effects on the organisms living there. According to the kind of habitat, ecology is subdivided into marine ecology (oceanography), estuarine ecology”, fresh water ecology (limnology), and terrestrial ecology. The terrestrial ecology in its turn is classified into forest ecology, cropland ecology, grassland ecology, desert ecology, etc., according to the kinds of study of its different habitats.

2. Community ecology:

It deals with the study of the local distribution of animals in various habitats, the recognition and com­position of community units, and succession.

3. Population ecology (Demecology):

It deals with the study of the manner of growth, structure and regulation of population of organisms.

4. Evolutionary ecology:

It deals with the problems of niche segregation and speciation.

5. Taxonomic ecology:

It is concerned with the ecology of different taxonomic groups of living organisms and eventually in­cludes following divisions of ecology: microbial ecology, mammalian ecology, avian ecology, insect ecology, parasitological, human ecology and so on.

6. Human ecology:

It involves population ecology or man and man s relation to the environment, especially man’s effects on the biosphere and the implication of these effects for man.

7. Applied ecology:

It deals with the application of ecological concepts to human needs and thus, it includes following applications of ecology: wild-life management, range management, forestry, con­servation, insect control, epidemiology, animal husbandry, aquacultare, agriculture, horticulture, and land use and pollution ecology.

8. Ecosystem dynamics:

It deals with the ecological study of the processes of soil formation, nutrient cycline energy flow, and productivity.

9. Production ecology:

It deals with the gross and net pro­duction of different ecosystems like fresh water, sea water, agriculture, horticulture, ctc., and tries to do proper management of these eco­systems so that maximum yield can be get from them.

10. Ecological energetic:

It deals with energy conservation and its flow in the organisms within the ecosystem. In it thermody­namics has its significant contribution.

11. Physiological ecology (ecophysiology):

The factors of environment have a direct bearing on the functional aspects of organ­isms. The ecophysiology deals with the survival of populations as a result of functional adjustments of organisms with different ecological conditions.

12. Chemical ecology:

It concerns with the adaptations of animals of preferences of particular organisms like insects to parti­cular chemical substances.

13. Ecological genetics (gcnecology):

An ecologist recognized kind of genetic spasticity in the case of every organism. In any environment only those organisms that are favored by the environ­ment can survive. Thus, genecology deals with the study of varia­tions of species based upon their genetic potentialities.

14. Palaeoecology:

It is the study of environmental conditions, and life of the past ages, to which palynology, palaeontology, and radioactive dating methods have made significant contribution.

15. Geographic ecology (ecogeography):

It concentrates on the study of geographical distribution of animals (zoogeography) and plants (phytogeography), and also of palaeoecology and biomes.

16. Space ecology:

It is a modern subdivision of ecology which is concerned with the development of partially or completely regene­rating ecosystems for supporting life of man during long space flights or during extended exploration of extra-terrestrial environments.

17. Pedology:

It is a branch of terrestrial ecology and it deals with the study of soils, in particular their acidity, alkalinity, humus contents, mineral contents, soil-types, etc., and their influence on the organisms.

18. Radiation ecology:

It deals with the study of gross effects of radiations and radioactive substances over the environment and living organisms.

19. Ethology:

It is the interpretation of animal behaviour under natural conditions. In it, often, detailed life history studies of particular species are amassed.

20. Sociology:

It is the study of ecology and ethology of mankind.

21. Systems ecology:

It is the modern branch of ecology which is particularly concerned with the analysis and understanding of the function and structure of ecosystem by the use of applied mathematics, such as advanced statistical techniques, mathematical models, characteristics of computer sciences.

Submitted by : Dr. Lyla, Category : Environment, Tag : Short Ecology