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1. Introductionto table of contents

1.1. What is Ecologyto table of contents

As we human beings have societies, nature has it too. We are connected to one another in innumerable types of relationships, each interacting with the rest of the environment, both social and natural. Things such as money that we need pass from one to another, mostly in balance. Nature organizes in almost the same way, only with far more species and the things pass through this mechanism do not include money. In fact, human society is no more than a part of the nature society, a community in biosphere at the global level, which we will be talking about.

So, ecology is just the study of the inclusive nature society dealing with interactions of organisms with other organisms and with the physical environment. Specifically speaking, ecology talks about the processes that determines the distribution and abundance of organisms and the interrelationships among them. In addition, transport and transformation of energy and matter in the biosphere is also an active topic of ecology.

1.2. Classification of Living Thingsto table of contents

Before dipping into the various scales of ecology, let's first have a glance at the classification of living things. Modern classification of organisms is based upon the binomial system that gives each species a two-part name. So, honeybee becomes academically known as Apis mellifera.

Scientific taxonomy and classification are built upon several sources of biological data, including homology, genetic data, and the fossil record. Although approximately 30 taxa e.g. superkingdom and subphylum are devised for the classification of 1.4 million known species out of 30 million estimated on earth, 7 taxa are most commonly used. They are kingdom, phylum(or division, for kingdom plantae), class, order, family, genus and species. Kingdoms are the most inclusive level of biological classification. Universally acknowledged kingdoms and their evolutionary relationships are represented below in a very plain manner.

5 Kingdoms and the Evolutionary Relationships
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  arrow Protista arrow  
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  Plantae Animalia Fungi  

For further information, refer to the exterior links section. Following is a table of three representative species described in the modern classification schema.

Classifications of Three Representative Species

Kingdom Animalia Animalia Plantae
Phylum(Division) Chordata Arthropoda Anthophyta
Class Mammalia Insecta Dicotyledones
Order Primates Hymenoptera Fagales
Family Hominidae Apidae Fagaceae
Genus Homo Apis Quercus
Species Homo sapiens Apis mellifera Quercus rubra

As you can see from the table above, the species of an organism is indicated by its complete binomial name. Human, for example, is named uniquely Homo sapiens in the binomial naming system, consisting the genus Homo and a specific epithet sapiens.

1.3. Scales of Ecologyto table of contents

Organism Left arrow Organ Left arrow Tissue Left arrow Cell Left arrow Organelle Left arrow Molecule Left arrow Atom
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Group of interacting and interbreeding organism of the same species.
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Different populations(groups of different species) living together interacting as competitors, predator and prey, or symbiotically.
Down arrow  
Ecosystem   Organisms and their physical and chemical environments together in a particular area. "The smallest units that can sustain life in isolation from all but atmospheric surroundings."
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Biosphere   Thin film on the surface of the Earth in which all life exists, the union of every ecosystems on earth. This is a highly ordered system, held together by the energy of the sun.
Adapted from http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/Biology
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