Chapter 1 What is Ecology? Ecology is the factors that influence the distribution and abundance of organisms. Why Learn About Ecology? To improve our economy in agriculture, forestry, fisheries and wildlife. To be more educated in Global Warming Issues (i.e. polar bear extinction, tick infestation, stronger tornados and hurricanes). To be more educated in Conservation Issues (i.e. wolf reintroduction in Yellowstone, sea turtle excluder devices) . Genetically engineered crops and organisms (i.e. engineered corn could harm more than 100 butterfly species.) Environmental contaminants (i.e. salt marsh dieback along LA coast, sewage/fertilizer runoff causing algae blooms, increased occurrence of deformities in fish & amphibians). To maintain biodiversity (i.e. new medicines, new foods, resistant crops, global stability and new fuels). Hierarchical Organization of Life: Molecules Cells Tissues Organs Individual organisms Populations Communities Ecosystems Landscapes/regions Biosphere Ecological Hierarchy Organismal - behavioral, physiological and morphological ways an individual deals with the environment. Population – group of individuals of a single species at a particular space and time. It is important that a population be in the same place and same time in order to interact with each other and have the ability to breed. Community – a group of species in a particular place and time and the interactions that bind them. A community has the same requirements as a population minus the ability to breed. Ecosystem – a set of interacting species plus the physical space they occupy. Landscape – a large land area composed of a patchwork of interacting ecosystems. Region – an area having some ecological characteristics or set of characteristics that distinguish it from other areas. A large area of space with a common theme (i.e. Alaska – a large rainforest). Biosphere – the whole earth ecosystem (Gaia). Goals of Ecology To explain how different features of organisms suit them for life in particular environments ( ecology of individuals ) To understand population change and the interactions among species ( population and community ecology ) To understand natural cycles of matter and energy at scales of ecosystems to the biosphere ( ecology of ecosystems ) To understand the role of ecological factors in the diversification of life ( evolutionary ecology ) Increasing Complexity Molecular biology, cell biology, genetics, physiology Ecology Evolution
Ecology and Evolution
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