Ecology Notes Part #1 - I What is Ecology 1 Ecology is...

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I) What is Ecology? 1) Ecology is derived from the Greek “ oikos ” meaning home, or household a Same root as economy or economics 2) Ecology : the study of the relationships between organisms and their physical and biological environment 3) Ecology and evolutionary biology are closely related sciences a This includes describes how organisms respond to the environment and how organisms are distributed (i) Events that occur in the framework of ecological time (minutes, months, years) translate into effect over the longer scale of evolutionary time (decades, centuries, millennia, and longer) 4) Some questions that Ecology attempts to answer… a How do individuals interact with other members of their own population? b Why is a particular organism distributed as it is? c How do different species interact with one another? d Can we predict what types of species will be present in a given community? e How does the composition of a community change over time, and with changes in the environment? f What are the consequences of the loss of a few species on the biodiversity of the entire community? 5) Disciplines of study in ecology a Studies of the ways in which organisms “go about their lives” (i) Organismal ecology b Interactions among members of the same species (i) Population ecology c Interactions among members of different species (i) Community ecology d Study of how the spatial arrangements of habitats affects organisms (i) Landscape ecology 6) Ecology is… a The study of the distribution and abundance of organisms b The flows of energy and materials throughout organism
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II) A brief history of Ecology 1) Early explorers a In the 18 th and 19 th centuries Great Britain, Spain, and Portugal sent explorers to all parts of the globe in search of land, gold, and other valuables b Many of these expeditions included scientists (e.g., Darwin aboard the Beagle) (i) Alexander von Humboldt German botanist of the early 1800’s “Father of Ecology” perhaps also geography Traveled widely in South America and Siberia Wrote 30 volumes on South America “Humboldt’s Travels” Noted the relationship between plants and climate; described vegetation zones by latitude and altitude (ii) Alfred Wallace Contemporary with Darwin, and usually associated with him via evolution Also studied the distributions of many animals Proposed a “geography” of animals (iii) Eugen Warming Danish botanist (mid-1800’s) Many consider Warming, not Humboldt, to be the father of ecology Wanted to explain why distantly related plants living in similar environments evolved similar solutions (convergent evolution) Taught the first university course in ecology: “Ecological Plant Geography” Wrote an influential book: “Ecology of Plants (1895) (iv) Charles Darwin It was clear from his writings that Darwin knew about the importance of abiotic factors on evolution However, Darwin fiercely defended organism-organism interactions (esp. competition) as the primary cause of selection
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