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| Last Updated:: 20/07/2014



          Ecology is the scientific study of interactions of organisms with one another and with the physical and chemical environment. "Ecology" comes from the Greek words oikos, meaning "house," and logos, meaning "logic" or "knowledge." The term was coined by German zoologist Ernst Haeckel in 1870. Although 'ecology' includes the study of environmental problems such as pollution, the science of ecology mainly involves research on the natural world from many viewpoints, using many techniques. Modern ecology relies heavily on experiments, both in laboratory and in field settings. These techniques have proved useful in testing ecological theories, and in arriving at practical decisions concerning the management of natural resources.

          An understanding of ecology is essential for the survival of the human species. Our populations are increasing rapidly, all around the world, and we are in grave danger of outstripping the earth’s ability to supply the resources that we need for our long-term survival. Furthermore, social, economic and political factors often influence the short-term distribution of resources needed by a specific human population. An understanding of ecological principles can help us understand the global and regional consequences of competition among humans for the scarce natural resources that support us. Ecology is a science that contributes considerably to our understanding of evolution, including our own evolution as a species. All evolutionary change takes place in response to ecological interactions that operate on the population, community, ecosystem, biome and biosphere levels. Studies conducted within the scientific discipline of ecology may therefore focus on one or more different levels: on populations of a single species, on an interacting community involving populations of many species, on the movement of matter and energy through a community within and ecosystem, on large scale processes within a biome, or on global patterns within the biosphere.

Wetlands of Kerala

          Wetlands are ecotones or transitional zones that occupy an intermediate position between dry land and open water. Wetland ecosystems are dominated by the influence of water, they possess characteristics of both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and properties that are uniquely of their own. Wetlands support a wide array of flora and fauna and deliver many ecological, climatic and societal functions. Scientists often refer to wetlands as the "kidneys" of the earth and forests as the "lungs" of the earth. India by virtue of its extensive geographical stretch and varied terrain and climate, supports a rich diversity of inland and coastal wetlands.


          Kerala is well known for its wetlands. These wetlands provided livelihood to the residents in the area in the forms of agricultural produce, fish, fuel, fiber, fodder, and a host of other day-to-day necessities. As long as human intervention remained minimal, the ecosystem, through its allencompassing balancing nature, was self-cleansing. But the development demands that determine the choice of the paths upset the natural harmony. Infrastructure development in the form of roads, railways, and other lines of communication fragmented the contiguity of the wetlands, and destroyed extensive tracts of coastal vegetation thereby upsetting the entire complex ecology; rapid urbanisation encroached into the rich and luxuriant mangrove forests, while industrial development not only caused pollution but prevented any regeneration possibilities as well; modern shrimp farms brought in the final onslaught - the irreversible destruction of wetlands. Coastal Kerala with its high density of population cannot bear such onslaughts any longer. The degradation of the wetlands of Kerala is not an isolated event. Worldwide, wetlands are in peril. They are either being polluted, drained or filled up to give way for development. The rate of wetland loss has accelerated in recent years. Thus the wetlands are now the most threatened ecosystems of our planet.