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What is ecology?

Updated: May 11, 2021

As Rachel Carson, the author of Silent Spring, said, “In nature, nothing exists alone.”. Everything is connected in nature. Ecologists investigate these relationships.

“Ecology” is the study of how living organisms interact with each other (e.g. with plants, fungi, pathogens, animals…) and with their physical environment (e.g. with climate, soil…). Its levels range from cells, individuals, populations to ecospheres.

Ecology seeks to understand how organisms adapt to their surrounding environment and survive in the presence of other individuals of the same or of different species. For example, why do some plants have spines on their leaves or stems? Why can't we find polar bears (Ursus maritimus) in Antarctica nor in Hong Kong? Why would Feather Star Shrimps (Hippolyte catagrapha) look like part of feather stars (Comatulida Order) (see picture)? How would a Bamboo Snake (Trimeresurus albolabris) catch its prey and how its prey tries to escape from predation?

Learning ecology is fun. It’s like a detective process that uncovers the secrets of nature and life. Follow us to discover more of these astonishing examples of species interactions and evolution in Hong Kong and beyond!


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