ECOLOGY is the study of relationships between organisms and their environments, between all environments, and among all living and non-living things. The word ecology comes from the Greek word oikos (also οἶκος) – or eco, which means the home, the place where we live. It was combined with the Greek word logia (also λογία) – or ology, which means the study of, to create the term ecology. So, ecology literally means the study of the home, the place where we all live.
1. A branch of science concerned with the interrelationship of organisms and their environments.
2. The totality of relations between organisms and their environment.
(Source: Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary)
Ecology really always has been about how all living things exist together.
The term, ecology, was first used in 1886 by the German zoologist, naturalist, philosopher, physician, professor, marine biologist and artist, Ernst Haeckle. He coined the German word oekologie, which today is commonly spelled as Ökologie in the German language (note that it is capitalized).
Dr. Haeckle introduced the term with the following passage from a paper that he wrote (translated from German):
“By ecology [Öekologie], we mean the body of knowledge concerning the economy of nature…. Ecology [Öekologie] is the study of all the complex interrelations referred to by Darwin as the conditions of the struggle for existence.”
From Dr. Jack C. Hall
Founding Chairman, Chair Emeritus, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of North Carolina Wilmington
“Ecology is very simply the study of how you and everything else lives and interacts with the world around you. Do you have clean air and water? What type of shelter do you have? What do you eat? Who do you talk to? What animals and plants have you seen today? What is the weather like where you live? All of these and many more are ways in which you “study” the Earth. That is the ECOLOGY OF YOU!!”