Have you ever heard of synecology? It is a science related to different ecosystems and their species, but what exactly does it study? How do you define yourself? What subtypes of synecology can we find? In this article we will answer these and other questions and, in addition, we will describe two of the possible applications of synecology. Synecology definition
Previous concepts: the ecosystem
Before delving into the meaning of synecology, we believe it is necessary to remember the meaning of some relevant previous concepts.
One of them is the concept of ecosystem; An ecosystem is a biological system made up of two elements: a set of living beings (community) and the natural environment (environment) in which they live.
In other words, it is made up of two types of factors: biotic factors, which include living beings (animals and plants), and abiotic factors , which include components that do not have life, such as temperature, water, salinity or light, among others.
We have introduced this previous concept because synecology is mainly concerned with studying the relationships between ecosystems and biological communities. We are now going to get to know this concept in depth.
Synecology: what is this research discipline?
The term synecology has also been translated as “community ecology” or even as “biocenotic”. Specifically, it is a sub-discipline (or branch) of ecology . Ecology is that part of biology in charge of studying the relationships of living beings with each other, as well as with the environment in which they inhabit. Synecology definition
For its part, synecology consists of the science in charge of studying the relationships between biological communities (different species of a community, or biocenosis) and the Earth’s ecosystems. When we speak of biological communities, we refer to those environmental environments where different species live.
Thus, synecology deals with studying these media, as well as the type of relationships that appear between the species of each of these natural systems and the relationships of these species with their environment .
What do you study?
Thus, by way of synthesis, we can say that synecology deals with studying biological communities, and more specifically: their composition, structure, the changes that occur in them over time , etc.
It also studies the relationships of species with their community, and the relationships produced within each species (and between different types of species).
Study perspectives (and types of synecology)
Different studies of synecology can adopt two different perspectives (or two points of view), which are the following:
1. Static perspective
The first perspective that we will describe, and that synecology can adopt, is the static perspective, which refers to a descriptive type of synecology. Its objective is to describe the different types and groups of living beings existing in a given environment or ecosystem .
Through this type of descriptions, the professional will be able to obtain the pertinent knowledge in relation to the composition of these groups (or species), their spatial distribution, their abundance, constancy, etc. Synecology definition
2. Dynamic perspective
In the second perspective of synecology we can use the term functional synecology.
In this case, we speak of a dynamic perspective, where its two key objectives are, on the one hand, to describe the evolution of groups of living beings (or species), and to examine the influences or circumstances that make these groups appear in a place. or another of the ecosystem, on the other.
Another aspect or elements that synecology studies from a dynamic point of view, is how the matter and energy of an ecosystem is mobilized and transported from one area of the ecosystem to another , through the different constituents of the ecosystem itself. system.
In addition, functional synecology also analyzes other elements such as: biomass, food chains, the productivity of a system, its performance, etc. However, all this mentioned would correspond to a subtype of functional synecology itself, called quantitative synecology.
And in the most practical field? What applications does synecology have? Here we are going to mention two of them:
1. Ecological succession
One of the applications of synecology is the so-called “ecological succession”, which in turn constitutes the basis for restoring ecosystems once they are altered or disturbed (for different reasons) . Synecology definition
But what exactly is ecological succession? It is about that evolution that occurs naturally in an environment, causing the living beings of an ecosystem to be progressively replaced by others. Ultimately, it is about the long-term substitution of some species for others (both plant and animal).
That is, it encompasses that sequence of changes in plant (or animal) communities that occur over time .
In the case of plant communities, this sequence has two levels: primary succession (when certain organisms colonize an area that initially has no vegetation), and secondary succession (when the ecosystem is disturbed or altered, either by a natural event, or by man’s own action, and later the system begins its recovery [once the disturbance is over]).
The action of man
Thus, the succession can also be produced by the action of the human being (although in this case, it would not be ecological). In these cases, what can be done when a system is altered by human action? A possible ecological solution is to restore said system, that is, to restore its initial conditions, which is called ecological restoration.
But how do you get it? In the case of plant communities, it is sometimes necessary to apply reforestation methods that mimic the ecological succession itself (especially in complex ecosystems, such as a tropical forest). Of course, when reforesting a system, the synecology of the ecosystem must always be taken into account in order to carry out this action successfully.
In this way, we see how professionals in these fields (biology, ecology …) must analyze, in an exhaustive way, what is the ecological succession of the different communities and ecosystems, in order to be able to design an adequate restoration plan and therefore , make it work .
For its part, epidemiology would be another of the possible applications of synecology, and now we will see why. Synecology definition
Let us remember that epidemiology is that branch of medicine in charge of studying the development of pandemics and the incidence in the population of certain infectious diseases.
But, to be able to apply it to synecology, we are going to see an example: we know that in order to know what dynamics is established between a parasite and its host, the studies of synecology are necessary. These studies or knowledge would configure the basis of epidemiology when analyzing how an infectious disease develops in time and space.
That is why epidemiology is another application of synecology, because in the example mentioned, it is necessary to know the interaction that is established between the parasite (for example a virus) and its host (for example a human being). This leads us to think about a current issue, which would be a good example: the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). Synecology definition