Environment and Ecology Information +

(ecology is the study of the relationship between organisms and the environments in which they live, including all living and nonliving components)

abiotic factor
A non-organic variable within the ecosystem, affecting the life of organisms.

Factors include temperature, light, and soil structure and can include harmful elements to the environment; such as, when sulfur dioxide emissions from power stations produce acid rain.

Wind-powered electricity generator.

It ranges from large models used on wind farms, or wind turbines, to battery chargers used on yachts.

An artificially produced chemical used in modern intensive agricultural systems.

Agrochemicals include nitrate and phosphate fertilizers, pesticides, some animal-feed additives, and pharmaceuticals.

Anything capable of being broken down by living organisms, principally bacteria and fungi.

In biodegradable substances; such as, food and sewage, the natural processes of decay lead to compaction and liquefaction, and to the release of nutrients that are then recycled by the ecosystem.

A buildup of barnacles, mussels, seaweed, and other organisms on underwater surfaces; for example, under the hulls of ships.
biomass in the ecology
The total mass of living organisms present in a given area.

It may be specified for a particular species; such as, earthworm biomass or for a general category; such as, herbivore biomass.

Estimates also exist for the entire global plant biomass and measurements of biomass can be used to study interactions between organisms, the stability of those interactions, and variations in population numbers.

Whenever dry biomass is measured, the material is dried to remove all water before weighing.

biomimicry, bio-mimicry, biomimetic
Manufacturing principles and practices that mimic natural materials or processes.

An example of biomimetics is the Swiss inventor named George de Mestral. An avid hiker, de Mestral and his dog were plagued by burrs sticking tenaciously to his tweed pants and the dogs hair.

He examined the burrs and found they contained tiny, hooks that had a natural tendency to attach themselves to the miniature loops found in fabric. This inspired, de Mestral who spent years trying to mimic the same mechanism and, in the late 1950's, he presented the world with his new invention which he called Velcro.

The merger of biological and economic theory.
A sealed container in which microbial reactions can take place.

Bioreactors in their most simple setup involve the slow decay of vegetable or animal waste and their production of the emission of methane which can be used as fuel.

Laboratory bioreactors control pH, acidity, and oxygen content and are used in advanced biotechnological operations; such as, the production of antibiotics by genetically-engineered bacteria.

The pH factor is a measure of acidity or alkalinity in which the pH of pure water is 7, with lower numbers indicating acidity and higher numbers indicating alkalinity.

BioSphere 2; BS2
An ecological test project, a "planet in a bottle", and a structure originally built to be a man-made, materially-closed ecological system located in Oracle, Arizona, United States.

Under a sealed glass and metal dome, different habitats were recreated, with representatives of nearly 4,000 species, to test the effects that various environmental factors have on ecosystems.

Simulated ecosystems, or "mesocosms", include savanna, desert, rain forest, marsh, and Caribbean reef.

The response of such systems to elevated atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide gas are among the priorities of Biosphere 2 researchers.

As of June 5, 2007, the property of Biosphere 2, including surrounding land, totaling 1,650 acres (6.7 km2), sold to a residential home developer for US $50 million.

A development including homes and a resort hotel was planned for a portion of the land. The Biosphere itself remains open for tours.

On June 26, 2007, the University of Arizona announced it would take over research at Biosphere 2. The announcement ended immediate fears that the famous glass vivarium would be demolished.

University officials said private gifts and grants enabled them to cover research and operating costs for three years with the possibility of extending that funding for 10 years.

biotic environment
The part of an organism's environment produced by its interaction with other organisms.
biotic factor
1. An organic variable affecting an ecosystem; for example, the changing population of elephants and its effect on the African savanna.
2. A factor created by a living thing or any living component within an environment in which the action of the organism affects the life of another organism; for example, a predator consuming its prey or in a quail’s environment, the biotic factors include the living elements of the environment; such as, the quail’s prey: insects, seeds, etc.; and the quail’s predators: the coyotes.
brownfield site
A place that has previously been developed; such as, a derelict area (a place where people no longer live) in an inner city.

Before brownfield sites can be redeveloped, site clearance is often necessary, adding to the development costs.

bycatch, bykill
In commercial fishing, that part of the catch which is unwanted.

Bycatch consists of approximately 25% of the global catch and consists of a variety of marine life, including fish too small to sell or otherwise without commercial value, seals, dolphins, sharks, turtles, and even seabirds.

Enclosed bodies of water or sediment kept under controlled experimental conditions that is another way of understanding marine processes and cycles.

Index of additional Scientific and Technological Topics.