Fundamental Concept of Forest Ecology

Forest ecology is the study of forest ecosystems. The forest ecosystem is the basic fundamental unit of organisms and their environment, interacting with each other and with their own components (Odum, 1971). Ecology deals with the organism and its place to live, its environment.
The word ‘ecology’ was first used by German zoologist, Ernst Haeckel (1866). He derived it from the Greek words 'oikos' (home) and 'logos' (study). Thus, the study of the house or habitat of an organism is the ‘ecology’. The term ecology was defined by Haeckel as the study of the reciprocal relations between organisms and their environments.
Ecology has been defined differently by various authors (Clements, 1916; Elton, 1927; Odum, 1972; Krebs, 1978).
Clements (1916), “The science of community”.
Elton (1927), “The study of animals and plants in relation to their habit and habitats”.
Odum (1972), “Scientific study of the structure and nature”.
Krebs (1978),” Scientific study of interactions that determine the distribution and abundance of organisms”.
The word ‘Forest’ is derived from the Latin ‘Foris’, which means out of doors. The definition adopted by the Society of American Foresters is “a forest is a biological community dominated by trees and other woody vegetation”. In the British Commonwealth Forest Terminology, Forest is “a plant community predominantly of trees and other woody vegetation usually with close canopy”.
From ecological standards forest may be defined as “an ecological system dominated by tree population”.
Fundamental Concept of Forest Ecology
Forest Ecology

According to Spur and Barnes (1973), 'forest ecology is concerned with the forest as a biological community with the interrelationships between the various trees and other organisms constituting the community and with the interrelationships between these organisms and the physical environment in which they exist’.
The scientific study of the interactions that determine the distribution and abundance of organisms.” (Kreb 1985”)
The study of the relationships between organisms and the totality of the physical and biological factors
affecting them or influenced by them.” (Pianka 1988)
The study of organisms and their environment - and the interrelationships between the two.”- (Putman and Wrattern 1984)

Some terminologies in Ecology

Autecology: It is concerned with the study of the interrelations of individual organisms with the environment. It is inductive (method of reasoning).
Synecology: Synecology is concerned with the study of groups of organisms – the community. It is deductive and philosophical.
An organism is any form of life with cells as a basic unit.
A population is a group of interacting individuals of the same species living in a specific physical place, the habitat.
A community consists of all the populations of different species of plants, animals and microorganisms living together in an area.

Branches of Forest ecology

Autecology: Autecology deals at the individual level.
Population ecology: Population ecology study at the population level.
Synecology/Community ecology: Community ecology study at the community level.
Ecosystem ecology: it deals at both abiotic and biotic levels.
Environmental Ecology: It deals at the only abiotic level.
Radioecology: It deals Interaction of radioisotopes with the population.
Genecology: It deals with gene frequency variation within species in relation to environmental variation.

Ecologist approach the study of ecosystems

  • Levels(organisms, populations, communities)
  • Interactions (predation, parasitism, competition)
  • Processes (photosynthesis, respiration, transpiration)
  • Pathways (food chains, biochemical cycles, succession)
  • Locations (aquatic, marine and terrestrial ecosystems; Biomes (The complex of several communities in any area represented by an assemblage of different kinds of plants, animals etc. sharing a common climate)

Trends in current ecological research

  • Characterization of biodiversity in the world’s ecosystems
  • Studying the impacts of “exotic” species that “invade” local environments
  • Assessing the ecological sustainability of human activities (e.g. The great warming)
  • Linking evolution and ecology
  • Movement of toxics through environmental pathways
  • Impact of toxic substances on human health
  • Analysis of ecosystem