What does the term radioecology mean: Definition & Introduction
The subject radioecology, like common ecology, has to do with organisms
and their environments. But this particular branch of ecology studies interactions of organisms and ecosystems with radionuclides and ionizing radiation. Such a study focusses on pathways of radionuclides in the
environment and it also investigates sources and strength of ionizing radiation in natural ecosystems.
So this scientific discipline includes everything that matters as to
environmental and biological impacts of radiation. The fields of application are many, they range from natural radiation to man made radioactive pollution. The study of natural processes, such as the incorporation
of radionuclides into body mass, community webs and community food chains, and technological applications, such as those that deal with radioprotection and risk assessment, are both important for the development of
the field. Designed field and laboratory experiments and the collection of data in the wild generate data that allow the development of predictive simulation models which might turn out as important in questions of
Radioecology is related to radiobiology. But in radiobiology one
studies the biological effects of radiation on organisms. As radioecology belongs to ecology, its emphasis is rather on the organisms' interaction with both communities and physical environments. That is different
from radiobiology, but knowledge from radiobiology may flow into it.
The ecosystem concept suggests that radioecologists should be concerned
with events that affect whole ecosystems. Their concern is not only with risks for human health. They are searching for protection in a broader sense, considering whole ecosystems. Radioecology is a science that
came up after the first tests of nuclear bombs. One wanted to know how this discharge of huge amounts of radionuclides into the stratosphere would affect ecosystems and their communities and food chains. The
Chernobyl Disaster 1986 was another key event that sparked new studies in the field of radioecology.
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