Difference Between Environment and Ecology

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Ecology and Environment

Knowing Ecology vs Environment will become easier if we understand ecology meaning and environment meaning.

What is Ecology?

Reiter used the word ‘Ecology’ in the year 1865 and Ernst Hackel explained it more profoundly in the year 1869. Ecology is the study of relationships between living organisms (plants, animals, bacteria, humans) and the environment. Its major components are individual or organisms, species, population, community, ecosystem and biosphere. All of the components are interrelated and can be determined on the basis of composition and distribution of a variety of resources like heat, sunlight, nutrients and water.

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What is Environment?

Environment is the totality of surroundings that we live in. It is the combination of physical and biological components such as animals, plants, air, water, sunlight; we can study the effect of all organisms and the effects of their way of living on the environment. Climate and weather changes take place due to different impacts on the environment and hence can alter the natural cycles.

As a result, if a healthy environment is disturbed, there can be disturbance in ecology too as disturbances in various ecosystems take place. Due to too hot/too cold or humid conditions, organisms may not survive and there can be decrease in the population, community or species. For example, when an uncontrollable wild forest fire, bush fire or grassland fire takes place, many living organisms including plants, animals and vegetation may die and result in the loss of an ecosystem. It ultimately affects the ecology. This is how we can portray the difference between environmental biology and ecology.

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With the help of the below tabular chart, we will make you understand ecology and environmental science differences.

Difference Between Environmental Biology and Ecology



A broader field of Science incorporating many elements of life sciences and earth.

It is more focused on how organisms interact among each other and their surroundings; It is a specific population of living things.

It is the set of conditions that surround an organism.

Study of the interactions between organisms and the environment they live in.

Environmental factors include temperature, water, light, air, soil and nutrients.

Ecology involves the study of different ecosystems and how organisms survive by depending upon each other. 

Environment can be very large as well as very small. 

It is a wide spectrum that includes many smaller ecosystems.

In terms of ecology, all abiotic factors or non living environmental factors surrounding an organism come under Environment.

It covers a wider way of interactions including microscopic observations as well as up to the global scale. It includes how organisms are affected by the environment and how in turn, ecology affects it. 

Humans have a huge impact on many different ecosystems resulting in impact on the global environment.

Different levels of organization within ecology include Organismal ecology, Population Ecology, Community ecology, Ecosystem Ecology and Biosphere Ecology.

Either it is biotic or chemical components, the surrounding where living organisms live, it is called environment.

How living organisms sustain in their habitat, the study is called ecology. Eco means friendly, without harming any particular nature or substance.

The environmental factors include pollution, global warming, deforestation and other broader issues.

The ecological factors include population size, distribution of organisms, diversity and also the competition between them.

It aims to study the internal and external factors affecting the environment.

It aims to understand life processes, adaptation, distribution, and biodiversity.

Different Levels of Organisms within Ecology

  1. Organism

When an individual living thing which is capable of responding to stimuli, growing, reproducing and maintaining homeostasis. Example, a plant, animal or humans.

  1. Population

A population is the sum of all of the individuals of the same species living within an ecological community.

  1. Community

Community ecology, also known as synecology includes the study of the interactions between species in communities on many spatial and temporal scales. It also involves the distribution, abundance, structure, demography, and interactions between all coexisting populations.

  1. Ecosystem

It consists of a large community of living organisms including plants, animals and microbes in a particular area. It can be of any size but exist in a particular place. The living and physical components of an ecosystem are linked together through nutrient cycles and energy flows. 

Energy pyramids can be drawn to show the interdependence of organisms on one another and how energy flow takes place in any ecosystem. Variety of food chains or versatility of food chains in an ecosystem leads to its strong foundation. Environment pollution and deforestation are major problems for ecosystem sustenance.

  1. Biosphere

It is one of the four layers surrounding the Earth along with other layers. The other layers are lithosphere (rocky area), hydrosphere (water bodies) and atmosphere (air) and it is the sum of all the ecosystems. 

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is the Importance of Ecology?

There is a vast significance of ecology in our planet that includes conservation of environment, distribution of resources, energy conservation and eco-friendliness. Conserving the environment means how ecology provides a proper guidance in our behaviour to impact the ecosystem. Studying ecology can make us aware aware of the endangered and extinction of species. Also, ecology makes us aware of the variety of resources that help in the survival of various organisms. Energy conservation is also equally important and understanding ecology helps us in realizing the proper usage of energy and avoiding exploitation of resources like light, nutrition and radiation. An eco-friendly environment results in harmonious living and interactions among various species, without harming the environment and other ecosystems.

2. What is the Importance of the Environment?

Environment is an important parameter in the healthy living of organisms. It provides suitable conditions including air, food, sunlight, sustainable temperature, and other needs for them to support life and well being. A clean environment is mandatory for good flourishing of all ecosystems.