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Another Point of View: Geoecolgy

What comes to your mind when I say geology? I am guessing “rocks and stones.” This is because geology is not necessarily seen as a popular science, especially when we compare it to environmental sciences such as physics, chemistry and others. Surprisingly enough, it is one of the four Earth sciences: geology, oceanology, meteorology and astronomy, meaning it is everywhere and is connected to everything. From the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations to finding water on Mars, geology is used on a big scale without being recognized by many people. In addition, it does not have a significant recognition in the ecology community either. To change that, this essay will briefly explain what geology is and its connection to ecology, along with the field of geoecology (landscape ecology).


To begin with, what is geology? Geology is the science that deals with the physical structure and substance of the Earth, its history, and the processes that act on it. It is also known as Earth system science. Modern geology does not only work on Earth sciences; it goes beyond the sky, which led to the change of the name around the 1970s: Earth and planetary science. It is the science that combines mathematics, physics and chemistry, but that is not it; the field has relevance in mineralogy, history, archaeology, biology, chemistry, physics, seismology, climate, hydrology, astronomy, oil, natural gas, atmosphere, politics, geothermal energy, paleontology, economic, etc. Geology can work with disciplines such as city and regional planning, food engineering, agricultural engineering, environmental engineering, medicine, and so on, making it interdisciplinary.


Now, we will connect ecology and geology. Firstly, we should acknowledge what ecology means. Ecology is the branch of biology that works on the relations of organisms to one another and to their physical surroundings. Secondly, we should understand how geology can have subfields that connect to this approach. I will explain this with two examples. Firstly, geologists can work on pedology and edaphology. Pedology is the science that works on classification, nature, distribution, and use of soil., while edaphology works on the interactions between organisms and soil, predominantly plants, and it is connected to agrology, the science of agriculture. Edaphologists can work on how organisms affect the ecological processes, meaning the interactions and connections between living and non-living systems, such as soil and organisms. Secondly, we can see the same approach in geological oceanography, the science that works on plate tectonics, geological mapping and interactions and communications between organisms underwater. This subfield of geology can work on the ecological processes between the plants, fishes, microorganisms and the ground of the oceans, helping us understand the needs of life underwater. With these examples, we can finally understand the relationship between geology and ecology, leaving us with the main topic: geoecology.


Geoecology, or landscape ecology, studies the patterns and interactions between ecosystems within a region and how these interactions affect ecological processes, especially spatial heterogeneity, which refers to the uneven concentrations of various species within an area. It is one of the members of 7 ecological studies: population, landscape, community, molecular, global, ecosystem and organismal ecology. Modern geoecology is interested in how the landscape mosaic is created, how it changes, and what interactions between heterogeneous landscapes happen. It also examines and explains the influence of the landscape mosaic's spatial heterogeneity on abiotic and biotic processes and considers the management of the spatial heterogeneity in the region.


In summary, geoecology widens the understanding of landscape systems and highlights the connections between biotic and abiotic components in a geoecosystem, whether in water or on land. This interdisciplinary connection between geology and ecology works since both of them can connect with the topic of “interactions and connections between organisms and their surroundings.” These two disciplines should work together while understanding the biosphere of our home, Earth.


Author: Bahar Yağmur Yıldız


REFERENCES

Clark, W. R. (2010). Principles of Landscape Ecology. Nature Education

Hugget, R. J. (1995). Geoecology, An Evolutionary Approach.

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