The key difference between ecology and ecosystem is that the ecology is the study of ecosystems and the environment while the ecosystem is a unit of ecology that addresses both biotic and abiotic components of a community.
Living organisms interact with each other for various reasons including foods, habitats, resources, etc. These interactions are interesting phenomena of Mother Nature. In order to explain different kinds of interactions persist in the environment, we can use different terms such as ecology and ecosystem, community, etc. which ease the understanding of these complex interactions.
Ecology is the broad study of the relationships between organisms and the surrounding environment. The study includes intra-relationships among living organisms and the inter-relationships between other living organisms and the environment. On the other hand, the ecosystem is a branch of ecology. It comprises all the biotic and the abiotic components in the environment. Likewise, biotic components are living whereas abiotic components are non-living.
What is Ecology?
Ecology is a broad area of study about the ecosystems as a whole. In ecology, biologists study various relationships of living organisms. These include intra-relationships among the living organisms and the inter-relationships between the living and the non-living components.
Thus, in ecology, three main components of the study are present. They are the living organisms, the relationships between organisms and the relationships between organisms and the surrounding environment. Ecology further describes the physiological, genetic, behavioural and nutritional patterns of organisms. Moreover, nutrition is a major branch of ecology. With regards to nutrition, in ecology organisms are grouped into various categories such as symbionts, saprophytes, parasites, predators, etc.
Furthermore, ecology can be classified according to the type of the environment that focuses. Based on the environmental conditions such as temperature, nature of the soil, availability of water, humidity and rainfall, ecologists characterize organisms and relationships.
Ecology also concerns on the threats to the environment and the manner in which those could be minimized. Also, ecology sometimes interferes on the processes of the ecosystem thereby altering the natural process in order to conserve the ecosystems. Besides, ecology provides an insight into the biodiversity of a single unit, which is the ecosystem.
What is Ecosystem?
The ecosystem is a branch of ecology. An ecosystem includes all the biotic and abiotic components of a particular community. The biotic components include all the living organisms of that particular community. The abiotic components include the non-living components such as sunlight, water, minerals and the climate in which they are living. These living and non–living factors link through the energy flow in the ecosystem and the nutritional requirement.
Therefore, food chains that demonstrate the energy flow and the nutritional requirement between organisms are a key feature of an ecosystem. Accordingly, a food chain begins with the primary producers that are autotrophs such as green plants. Plants use the primary energy source, the sunlight, to produce food. Down the food chain, the consumers satisfy their nutritional and energy requirements. Consumers can be herbivores, omnivores or carnivores. Interconnecting food chains, food webs are formed.
What are the Similarities Between Ecology and Ecosystem?
- Ecology and ecosystem are two terms that describe the relationships between organisms of a particular environment.
- Moreover, they describe the relationships between organisms and the surrounding environmental factors.
- Besides, they include both the biotic and abiotic components.
What is the Difference Between Ecology and Ecosystem?
Ecology is a comprehensive study of organisms and their relation with the environment they live in and interact with one another. It includes the amount and spread of organisms and how and why their distribution is affected by their relationship with the environment. On the other hand, an ecosystem is a subset of ecology and refers to a system that includes all the organisms in an area along with the physical environment they live in. The above describes the key difference between ecology and ecosystem.
Summary – Ecology vs Ecosystem
Ecology is the broad area of study about all ecosystems that includes living and non–living components. Ecosystem refers to a subset of Ecology. Ecosystem refers to a particular system in the community comprising of biotic and abiotic components and their interactions. In both ecology and ecosystem, interactions between organisms and their interaction with the surrounding environment are analyzed. Energy flow and nutritional requirements play a major role in interactions in an ecosystem. Thus, this summarizes the difference between ecology and ecosystem.
1.1-0-506, ReadyGo WCB: “Ecology and Ecosystems.” Attribution Theory and Motivation. Available here