Chap 1 Eco 1 - CHAPTER CONCEPTS Ecological systems can be...

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• Ecological systems are governed by basic physical and biological principles • Ecologists study the natural world by observation and experimentation • Humans are a prominent part of the biosphere • Human impacts on the natural world have increasingly become a focus of ecology CHAPTER CONCEPTS • Ecological systems can be as small as individual organisms or as large as the biosphere • Ecologists study nature from several perspectives • Plants, animals, and microorganisms play different roles in ecological systems • The habitat defines an organism's place in nature; the niche defines its functional role • Ecological systems and processes have characteristic scales in time and space The English word ecology is taken from the Greek oihos, I meaning "house," and thus refers to our immediate sur- roundings, or environment. In 1870, the German zoolo- gist Ernst Haeckel gave the word a broader meaning: By ecology, we mean the body of knowledge concerning the economy of nature-the investigation of the total relations of the animal both to its organic and to its inorganic environment;
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