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Difference Between Ecology and Environmental Sciences


Our environment comprises different niches, habitats, biomes, and ecosystems. All these systems contain biotic and abiotic components contributing to the natural function of the environment and ecosystem. They are studied under different branches of biology, and two such domains of study are ecology and environmental sciences. They allow you to understand the relationships between organisms, microorganisms, and how they affect the environment. Let’s tell you all the differences between ecology and environmental sciences.

Comparison Table

CharacteristicsEcologyEnvironmental Sciences
Study TypePart of the
environmental sciences
Deals WithSpecific groupsClimatic factors
FocusImmediate aspectsEffect of humans
on the environment
FactorsNatural elementsEnvironmental factors
EcosystemsMiniatureMore diverse

What is Ecology?

The word ecology comes from the Greek word “Oikos” means surrounding, and “logos” is to study. Ecology is one of the branches of environmental sciences and allows the study of the surrounding.

Ecology can be defined as the scientific study of living things with each other and with the environment. The study of ecology tells how organisms interact with other living and nonliving things in their surroundings. Therefore, we define two components of the ecosystem as biotic and abiotic. The Biotic components refer to the living elements of the ecosystem. They could be producers, consumers, and decomposers that function as autotrophs, heterotrophs, and saprotrophs.

Producers are plants that can fulfill their own energy needs through photosynthesis. Plants provide all other living things with the food and oxygen they need to function. Herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores are examples of consumers. Carnivores consume other living things, and herbivores eat plants. Animals that can consume both plants and animals are called omnivores. Fungi, yeast, and bacteria are decomposers. They feed on the decaying organic stuff to decompose and transform it into nitrogen and carbon dioxide. All these organisms collectively form food chains and food webs.

Abiotic components are non-living components of the environment that can alter physically or chemically. These include physical, chemical, and biological forces. Abiotic factors are light, air, soil, and nutrients. The abiotic elements differ in different habitats and ecosystems. Each region has specific elements that contribute to the proper functioning of the ecosystem. For example aquatic systems comprise the water’s pH, sunshine, turbidity, depth of the water, salinity, and dissolved oxygen. Land ecosystems are influenced by abiotic variables such as soil, soil types, temperature, rain, altitude, wind, sunlight, micro, and macronutrients.


The relationships between organisms in different types of ecology are studied through symbiosis. Symbiosis is the term to describe how different species of organisms interact with one another. The symbiotic relationship has three examples depending on the interaction between organisms. When both species are positively beneficial for each other, it is known as mutualism. Commensalism occurs when one organism receives a positive benefit from the host while the other neither gets harm nor benefit. Parasitism includes one getting benefits and harming the host. Parasites and bacteria are responsible for numerous infections and diseases in humans as well.

Broadly, we can classify ecology as; autecology and synecology. Autecology refers to population ecology, while synecology refers to community ecology. Autecology enables us to determine the relations between specific species and their surroundings. Understanding the interactions between different species in communities and the environment is made easier by synecology.

What are Environmental Sciences?

The environment simply means surroundings; it may be living things and non-living objects. Environmental science addresses the interactions between the physical, chemical, and biological components of the environment. It helps study how surrounding factors affect our life. They may also study the effect of the environment on different habitats and ecosystems.


Environmental science has five main subfields, each formed from various minor disciplines. These five disciplines include environmental chemistry, atmospheric sciences, ecology, geosciences, and social sciences.

The majority of atmospheric sciences focus on global warming and its consequences, how the atmosphere moves, how chemicals interact there, and how animals contribute to carbon dioxide emissions have been developed by scientists. Environmental scientists study a wide range of topics, such as how a particular species or a genus or a group of living organisms are affected by their environment. Environmental chemistry delves deeper and examines topics, including chemical impacts on various plants and environmental chemistry’s role in ecological deterioration. Geosciences study the physical, chemical, and atmospheric makeup of our planet. Geosciences is frequently regarded as a subfield of planetary sciences.

Changes in Our Environment and Ecology

The environment we live in is currently undergoing tremendous change affecting different types of biodiversity. While some changes are advantageous, many of them are harming our world. Environmental sciences study these changes and their impact on the world in which we live. The main change happening right now and how it relates to environmental science is the spectacular increase in the human population on earth. The demand for ecosystem services and natural resources we rely on for survival has increased as a result of this expansion in population. The increase in population has led to a more serious fight for resources and survival. Natural resources are a broad category of matter and energy sources we extract from and use in the environment. Both renewable and nonrenewable resources are two main categories of natural resources. Natural resources that can regenerate themselves throughout time include things such as; sunlight, wind, soil, and wood. Natural resources that cannot be replenished have a finite amount and will eventually be depleted; for example, metals and crude oil. This field plays its role in finding ways to prevent issues such as climate or weather change and global warming. It also investigates all possible ecological problems and its solution to create a sustainable future for the earth.

Difference between Ecology and Environment Sciences



Ecology involves studying how organisms interact with one another and the environment around them.

Environmental Sciences

Environmental science is a multidisciplinary domain that explores how the earth works, how humans interact with it, and how to approach current environmental challenges.

Type of Study


It is a sub-branch of environmental sciences.

Environmental Sciences 

Contrarily, it is a multidisciplinary field of science .



Ecology discipline generally deals with particular populations of living things, such as one species of grass or a group of fish, i.e., the interactions, reproduction, and survival of species within an environment.

Environmental Sciences

Alternatively, environmental scientists investigate climate factors that affect a region. For example, scientists study the effects of a dry season on the growth of different plant species in a specific area.



Ecology generally focuses on immediate aspects, including; dietary preferences, predatory behavior, and sexual selection within a group. It also explains the developmental and evolutionary adaptations that affect a species through meticulous observation and historical research.

Environmental Sciences

Environmental science, on the other hand, focuses on the interactions between the environment’s physical, chemical, and biological components, such as how to minimize waste. The field of environmental science studies humanity’s effects on the environment, while ecology does not.

Environmental Damage


Ecologists are required to consider the well-being of specific populations and recommend improvements to the protection of endangered species.

Environmental Sciences

Whereas environmental experts examine risk factors and pollution levels; for example, an industrial plant.

The Bottom Line

Ecology and environmental sciences help us understand the interactions between microorganisms, organisms and the environment. The main difference between ecology and environmental sciences is that environmental sciences also consider environmental factors like air, humidity, temperature, etc. On the other hand, ecology primarily comprises the relationship between different organisms in ecosystems and communities. They enable us to understand and find out ways to preserve biodiversity as well as the environment.


Is environmental science related to ecology?

Environmental science and ecologies are branches of biology related to the interaction among organisms in a region. Ecology contributes to the study of organisms and their relationship with others.

What are the 5 major fields of environmental science?

The five main fields of environmental sciences include ecology, social sciences, atmospheric sciences, geosciences, and environmental chemistry.

What is the role of ecology in environmental science?

Ecology facilitates the study of the environment by providing information about the relationship among various organisms in an ecosystem.

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