Image from Anders Sandberg

Ecology is a science concerned with the study of the relationships and interactions between organisms and their environments.

Ecology incorporates elements of biology, chemistry, geology, climatology, meteorology, and planetology.

Planetary Ecology is a study of the effects of climate, soil, water, geological processes, natural selection, and species population dynamics on the ecosystem of a natural or terraformed world.

Habitat Ecology is concerned with the way that organisms and ecosystems cope, adapt, survive or die out within the more "artificial" restrictions of a constructed biosphere, such as an O'Neill Orbital, Bishop Ring, Banks Orbital, Dyson Sphere, etc., and in its applications helps decide which species or group of species would best survive and flourish in such conditions.

Nanocology looks at ecosystems that form from wild self-replicating and self-evolving nano, or of artificial organisms with nanotech components.

Virchecology studies the ecological interactions of sims, alifes, and other virtuals in the context of their computronium and the underlying programming that determines their environment.

  • Agricultural Science  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    The application of biology and related sciences and technology to the production of food, natural fiber, and other products.
  • Algaehol Bloom Disaster, The  - Text by ROM 65536
    Early genetic engineering causes an ecological catastrophe.
  • Autotroph - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    An organism that produces its own food from light or chemical energy and/or inorganic matter. Also called a Producer (or Primary Producer). Among terragen life forms, most green plants, many protists, and many prokaryotes are autotrophs. There are also alife and informational autotrophs/producers. Every food chain rests on autotrophs. Autotrophs in turn provide food for heterotrophs.
  • Banks Institute of Ecology - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Institute in the Negentropy Alliance. Developed the classification scheme that formed the basis of the system of ecological classifications.
  • Biodegradable - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    A substance that can be broken down through the normal activity of microorganisms. Many Zoeific, Arcadian, and some Genen, polities have strict guidelines and regulations regarding this.
  • Biodiversity - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    The abundance of different biological species and varieties found in any environment, such as a natural biosphere, a ship, or an orbital or deep-space habitat. In almost every case (there are exceptions - e.g. on special purpose ships, military, freighter, etc etc), a high biodiversity is preferable to a low biodiversity for ecological robustness, resource value, evolutionary potential, and aesthetic appreciation.
  • Biomass - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    The total amount of living material (whether natural or artificial) in a particular area, estimated by adding up the weights of all of the organisms. Note that biomass is not the same as biodiversity; a monoculture has a high biomass but low biodiversity.
  • Biome  - Text by Stephen Inniss and M. Alan Kazlev
    A major ecosystem that extends over a broad region, has a characteristic climate, and presents a typical common appearance due to the suite of organisms that are adapted to it. In the context of a garden world or a large megahab it is a subset of the overall ecosphere. The classical biomes known to the humans of Old Earth have been widely replicated through the Terragen Sphere, but many more exotic biomes have also been discovered or resurrected or invented.
  • Bionanecology  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    A nanecology built solely on organic nanites (bionano).
  • Biosphere  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Any autonomous self-supporting, self-containing, homeostatic ecosystem.
  • Biosphere, Planetary  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    The organic component of a Garden World; includes all living organisms (whether natural or bionanites or both) and all organic matter that has not yet decomposed.
  • Biospherics - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    The study, design, construction, and maintenance, of artificial biospheres.
  • Birnam Ecotech - Text by Anders Sandberg
    One of the major environment design and terraforming consultancy firms of the First Federation. It eventually merged with the Conver Ambi, adding its expertise to the ruthless ambition and economic power of the corporation/religion/empire.
  • Botworld  - Text by Stephen Inniss
    A large area that is dominated by, or consists entirely of, self-replicating and self-repairing forms which are of mechanical origin.
  • Canopy - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    The leaves and upper branches of rainforest trees, forming an upper "story", which in baseline Cenozoic terragen rainforests are usually around 20 to 40 meters up. This leafy environment is full of life in a tropical rainforest and includes insects, birds, reptiles, mammals, and other forms of life. Some eco-clades have adapted an entire culture, technology, and society to life in orbital canopy environments. There are also equivalent tweak, exotic chemistry, and virtual/alife "canopies" which serve the same ecological purpose, although they may differ markedly in structure and detail.
  • Celesynecology - Text by Jay Dugger
    Studies ecological structure, development, and distribution of communities within an accelerated virch realm.
  • CELSS Closed Ecological Life Support System  - Text by Steve Bowers
    A self-perpetuating, regenerative environment that can support and maintain life inside a closed system.
  • Chemosynthesis - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Primary production of organic matter using various substances and chemical reactions instead of light as an energy source; a common phenomenon throughout the galaxy, but rare in terragen ecologies.
  • Climate Change on Old Earth  - Text by Todd Drashner
    The climate change crisis on Old Earth peaked during the Interplanetary period with a two meter rise in sea-levels.
  • Commensalism - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    A situation in which two organisms (whether biological or alife) are associated in a relationship in which one benefits from the relationship and the other is not affected. Each organisms is termed a commensal. Commensalism is a type of symbiosis.
  • Competition - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    An interaction between or among two or more individuals, species, clades, corporations, nanecologies, polities, or empires, in which exploitation of resources by one affects any others negatively. A driving principle of evolution and of galactic society.
  • Complex Life Cycle - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    A life cycle that consists of several distinct stages (e.g., larva and adult) (see also complete metamorphosis).
  • Complex System  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Any entity that consists of many simpler interacting components.
  • Conformer - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    An individual, organism, or virtual, whose physiological, informational, or memetic state (e.g., body temperature, data protocol, belief structure, fashion-statements) are identical to, and varies identically with, that of eir surrounding environment.
  • Consumer (ecology) - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    An organism (whether biological, alife, or other) that consumes other organisms to survive. Primary consumers feed on producers, secondary consumers feed on primary consumers, and so on. Depending on whether it is a biological, an alife, an ai, a neumann, or something else again, a consumer may feed on organic bodies (see also, heterotroph), information /data bodies (see also, infovore), energy bodies, and so on, The fact that there is an energy loss with each link of the food chain means that there are always more primary consumers than secondary consumers.
  • Coral Reef - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Aquatic Terragen community of organisms, wave-resistant biological structure resulting from cementation processes and the skeletal construction of hermatypic corals, calcareous algae, and other calcium carbonate-secreting organisms. Forms a rich habitat for many types of marine organisms. Coral reefs are popular in many large Terragen habitats with a strong aquatic component and tropical or semi-tropical climate. Some coral reefs have been provolved to sapience.
  • Datacology   - Text by Thorbørn Steen
    An evolved (and evolving) digital ecosystem in a virtual world.
  • Deep Ecology - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Memeticity that asserts that nature should be preserved for its own sake, and that all beings have intrinsic value. An important axiom of almost all Bioist philosophies and religions.
  • Detritivore - Text by Stephen Inniss; original by Alan M. Kazlev
    A detritus feeder; an animal that ingests the decaying remains, feces, or cast off parts of other organisms. Examples from Old Earth include earthworms, many crabs, dung flies, sea cucumbers, woodlice, and so on. Analogous species are common wherever multicellular animal life has arisen. In some circumstances, such as at the bottom of earth's oceans or the bottom of To'ul'h Prime's atmosphere they are the predominant class of animal.
  • Eco-Clade  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    A clade of sophonts - often but not necessarily rianthed or bioborgized - who are strongly dedicated to ecosystem preservation, deep ecology, and ecopoesis or ideologies pertaining thereto.
  • Ecological Classification Type - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Typology for a planet or biospheres's ecosystem, the biotic, virchlife, and nanecological counterpart of Planet Classification Type. Also useful in developing biological and mathematical models for preservation, terraforming, colonization, climate control, etc. The system of ecological classifications used today are based upon the classification scheme of the Banks Institute of Ecology (Negentropy Alliance).
  • Ecological Responsibility - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    A major aspect of Bioism, this refers to the importance of preserving the health of one's biosphere, and especially of all natural garden worlds. In some memeticities (many forms of Zoeticism and Biosophism for example) biospheres are themselves considered living entities.
  • Ecophagy - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    The rampant destruction of an ecosystem by a biological or nonbiological agent.
  • Ecopoiesis - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    The science and art of designing, shaping, sculpting, or modifying ecosystems.
  • Ecosystem - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Community of organisms - whether biological or alife - interacting with one another and with the chemical and physical factors making up their environment.
  • Ecotourism - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Service industry built around tourism and leisure value of Garden Worlds and other ecologically sensitive areas. Ecotourist operators may often have to consider the needs of a local caretaker god or eco-protectionist clade.
  • Ectotherm - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Organisms - e.g. animals, neogens, etc - whose internal temperature changes with the environment. They rely upon behavior (e.g. lying in a sunny area) and sometimes bodily structures (heat-regulatory sails, etc) to control their body temperature.
  • Endotherm - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Organism that generates its own body temperature to maintain a relatively constant internal temperature, which is usually higher than (but may in some xenoecologies be lower than) that of the surroundings. In terragen birds and mammals heat from the bloodstream circulates through the body in order to maintain the animal's temperature. Limners use a similar system but circulate paralymph rather than blood. To'u'ls use a cooling rather than a warming circulation, but again the principle is similar.
  • Environment  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    [1] The physical or virtual surroundings in which sentient beings live; The air, water, organisms, minerals, and other external objects that surround and affect an organism.
    [2] From the perspective of any system, rest of the world or universe.
    [3] Any precious biosphere, especially a garden world.
  • Extremophile  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    A rather chauvinistic term for any biological organism, whether terragen or xenobiont, natural or tweaked, that requires extreme (non-Earthlike) environments for growth or metabolism.
  • Food Chain - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    The energy exchange that constitutes the sum of interactions between predators and prey in which bionts, alifes, or other organisms obtain nutrition. The chain starts with plants or other autotrophs that are eaten by herbivores, which in turn are preyed upon by carnivores. These may in turn become food for other carnivores. When the organism dies, it becomes food for scavengers, detritivores, and decomposers.
  • Forest - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Any biome type involving a dense concentration of trees or analogous neogens or xenophyta, distributed over a large area of land. In some biomes, such as rainforest, there are a number of distinct levels, such as canopy and forest floor, each with their distinct micro-ecologies.
  • Forest Floor - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    The lowest layer of a rainforest, extending from the ground to about a meter in height. This layer is teeming with animal life, including insects, mammals, and ground birds.
  • Gaia's Veil  - Text by Todd Drashner
    Particularly volatile rich protostellar nebula, outer Sagittarius Volume.
  • Great Dying  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Name given to the human-caused mass-extinction of a large proportion of baseline life and biodiversity on Old Earth; one of the six great extinction events on Earth (the others being the end Ordovician, Late Devonian, end Permian, end Triassic, and end Cretaceous). Only the end-Permian extinction is considered worse in estimated number of species and groups of organisms that died out.
  • Habitat (biology) - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Any space (which includes food, water and shelter) suitable for the survival and reproduction of an organism.
  • Heterotroph - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    A heterotroph (or consumer) is an biological or alife that cannot make its own food and hence feeds on other organisms. Contrast autotroph.
  • Hylonanecology - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    A nanecology built solely on inorganic nanobots. The most extreme form is Machinonanecology. In practice however most hylonanecologies and bionanecologies tend to merge, with each using components found in the other; the difference between them being one of degree rather than of kind.
  • Industrial Ecology  - Text by Chris Shaeffer
    The study and implementation of efficient industrial systems coexisting with the natural environments within which they operate.
  • Interspecific Competition - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Competition for food, territory, or other resources between two different species of organisms. Where competition is for exactly the same life-style and resource (the same ecological niche) the species that is most efficient will oust the less efficient species, driving it into extinction.
  • Intraspecific Competition - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Competition for resources among members of the same a species; an important part of natural selection.
  • Limnology - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Study of rivers, lakes, ponds and streams on a Gaian Type planet, the freshwater equivalent of Oceanography. Includes study of the various zones of water depth, the interaction with the atmosphere, currents, temperature patterns, and the biology and ecology of any fresh-water life forms, as well as legal and environmental regulations, biospherics and appropriate use of resources.
  • Littoral Zone - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    In a natural or artificial biosphere consisting of both large bodies of water, ample dry land, and natural and/or artificial tides, this is the intertidal zone is where the sea meets the land.
  • Machinecology  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    An organic ecology built solely on inorganic self-replicating devices working along traditionally machine-like principles.
  • Marine Biology - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Branch of biology that deals with marine life (whether terragen or xenobiont), an important part of most biospheres. Areas of study include the ecology, physiology, life cycle, distribution, and migration of marine organisms, such as marine mammals, fish, invertebrates, algae, and plankton; classification of marine life; tagging, and tracking ocean organisms, microoceans and other orbital biomes; sea-farming; oceanography; introduction of aquatic life to to artificial biospheres and newly terraformed worlds, megascale ocean ecology, designing marine ecosystems, and non-terragen marine organisms on other Gaian Type worlds.
  • Nano-ecology, Nanecology - Text by Anders Sandberg
    A distributed system of nanodevices and the structures constructed by them that self-organizes in a bottom-up manner without any central control; analogous to an ecology. Sometimes used to denote the entire nanosphere of a world, even when parts of it are under top-down control.
  • Non-biodegradable - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Materials that are not broken down by natural microorganisms in the environment; they require special bionano or hylonano or artificial organisms that use the same to be disassembled or recycled.
  • Parasite - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    A biological organism or alife that lives off another organism (the host) without benefiting it. Hence Parasitism; relationship between two organisms in which one organism benefits at the other organism's expense.
  • Pelagic - Text by M. Alan Kazlev; amended by Stephen Inniss
    Of, pertaining to, or living in the open ocean, on a planet, a moon or a sufficiently large large habitat, either at the surface or at intermediate depths. Some reserve the term specifically to open bodies of water a Gaian Type planet, but the broader usage is much more common.
  • Phytoplankton  - Text by Stephen Inniss
    Autotrophic planktonic organisms that are the primary producers within their ecology, usually via photosynthesis. Most often they are of microscopic size.
  • Plankton  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev and Stephen Inniss
    Organisms that live in in the water column or in a suitable atmosphere and drift or float in that environment, being incapable of swimming against the current or wind. Most garden worlds have planktonic organisms. Where larger or more actively moving organisms are present they depend on plankton for food. Analogues to biological plankton are found in some nanecologies and mechosystems.
  • Virchology   - Text by Thorbørn Steen
    A fully designed (rather than evolved) digital ecosystem residing in a virch.
  • Vivisystem - Text by Anders Sandberg in his Transhumanist Terminology
    Systems with lifelike properties (adaptability, complexity, evolvability, resiliency etc.), such as ecosystems, alife, economies and minds.
  • Zooplankton - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Animals that float passively in the water as part of the plankton. Zooplankton feed on other plankton (phytoplankton, bacterioplankton or other zooplankton) and are in turn food for larger aquatic organisms. An important part of the aquatic ecology of any terragen and terragen-type ecosystem.
Related Topics
Development Notes
Text by M. Alan Kazlev
modified from the original write-up by Robert J. Hall
Initially published on 24 October 2001.