Synecology: what it is and fields of study

animal study

The field of synecology, or community ecology, is dedicated to understanding the organization and composition of communities, along with the interaction between various species within them. This includes the study of the interactions of species with each other, as well as with the physical environment around them. The focal point of this academic field is the exploration of primary ecological relationships between life forms, as well as important procedures such as the transfer of energy and matter through the ecosystem and the progression of ecological transformation over time.

In this article we are going to tell you what synecology studies, its characteristics and importance.

What does synecology study?

synecology studies

The study of synecology is of great relevance in the process of restoring ecological balance in areas that have been negatively impacted by human influence. To successfully accomplish this task, It is essential to have a firm understanding of the secondary succession process that occurs organically within these ecosystems.

The ecological basis of epidemiology, a fundamental branch of public health, has its roots in synecology. This is particularly pertinent when examining the emergence of infections and communicable diseases.

The field of synecology has two fundamental methodologies: descriptive synecology and functional synecology. Furthermore, quantitative synecology complements these approaches by utilizing data on various factors, including, but not limited to, the density, frequency, energy consumption, and matter exchange of organisms.

Descriptive synecology

The study of descriptive synecology involves the comprehensive examination of the relationships between different organisms that exist within a specific ecological community. This field of study focuses on the interaction between various species, including their behavior, distribution and abundance, as well as the various environmental factors that influence their existence.

The purpose of descriptive synecology is to provide a detailed description of the complex web of relationships that exist between different organisms within an ecosystem and to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms that drive these relationships.

By using descriptive synecology, we can determine the distribution and relative abundance of species within a given community. This information is crucial for assessing whether a species is endangered or not and for developing effective conservation initiatives.

Functional synecology

Functional synecology is a concept that refers to the study of the interdependence and interactions between different organisms in an ecosystem. It deals with how these organisms work together to maintain the balance and stability of the environment.

Functional synecology transcends mere description and instead delves into the dynamics of a community, specifically as it relates to its functions as a system. To make it, seeks to establish relationships between species and their interactions with the physical environment, including the configuration of food webs as a key component. To understand the intricate connections between different organisms in terms of matter and energy transfer, it is crucial to understand the latter.

Ecological relationships and interactions

interactions of living things

To understand the flow of matter and energy, synecology places particular emphasis on examining the ecological relationships and interactions that take place within a given community. The main interactions observed include:


Interactions occur between members of the same species as well as between different species, and depend on a shared environmental factor. This factor can take the form of space, water, light, food, a partner, or any other necessary resource.


The relationship in question is a classic example of a food chain, where one species serves as the primary sustenance for another species. A good example of this is the relationship between the leopard and the gazelle.


Mutualism is a symbiotic partnership that results in both species benefiting from the relationship. An example of this is a plant that provides habitat for a certain species of ant. In exchange, the ant species protects the plant from being eaten by herbivores.


In situations like this, only a singular species involved in the interaction reaps the rewards. Meanwhile, the other species are not influenced positively or negatively, as seen in the example of epiphytic plants that use trees solely as a means of sustenance.


This particular form of interaction between organisms implies that one organism is negatively affected by the actions of another without any repercussions for the latter. A suitable example of such an interaction is when a plant excretes certain substances into the soil that stop the growth of other plant species, a phenomenon known as allelopathy.



The implementation of synecology has been applied in various fields, with significant success. This practice involves analyzing the interrelationships between various species within an ecosystem and how they interact with the environment. Applications of synecology range from studies in natural sciences, such as ecology and biology, to applications broader in fields such as urban planning and agriculture. By using this approach, researchers and experts can gain a more complete understanding of the complex and dynamic systems that make up our world.

The concept of ecological succession refers to gradual and predictable changes in the composition of plant communities over time. There are two distinct levels of this process, primary succession which occurs when organisms establish themselves in an area that was previously devoid of vegetation, and secondary succession which It takes place in areas that have already been colonized by plants in the past.

In the event that an ecosystem is disturbed, either naturally or due to human interference, a process known as secondary succession occurs. It is about the recovery of the ecosystem once the disturbance has ceased.

When humans intervene and change an ecosystem, it is necessary to address the problem and find a solution. Ecological restoration is the answer: the process of restoring an ecosystem to its original state. It is about trying to return the ecosystem to its original condition before human intervention.

To restore complex ecosystems such as tropical forests, it is imperative to use reforestation techniques that emulate the natural progression of the environment. Many attempts to reforest regions, when the synecology of the area is not taken into account and, in particular, the progression of plant life, have proven fruitless.

Establishing a successful restoration program can be achieved by studying the ecological succession of communities during natural forest recovery.

I hope that with this information you can learn more about synecology and its characteristics.

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