sci230r6_week6_reading3

sci230r6_week6_reading3 - c15.qxd 12/10/04 9:40 AM Page 487...

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487 Population Ecology: How Do Organisms Interact to Form Populations? Ecology is the study of all those complex interactions referred to by Darwin as the conditions of the struggle for existence. —Ernst Haeckel, 1870 Chapter opening photo Humans seem to live everywhere. Overview Until now, we have viewed biology by peering deep inside individual organisms. We have focused on complex cells, chemicals, and processes that, in concert, produce, maintain, and reproduce individuals. What we have seen thus far is a series of hierarchical levels leading to individuals. Atoms and elements are organized into molecules and compounds, the largest and most complex of which are biochemicals. These, in turn, are organized into cells, complex entities often made 15
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488 C HAPTER 15 Population Ecology: How Do Organisms Interact to Form Populations? Figure 15-1 Any situation in which organisms interact with their environment is of potential interest to ecologists.This includes (a) vultures feeding at a lion kill and (b) rats feeding in an urban trash can. (a) (b) up of smaller parts called organelles. Cells, we have seen, are the building blocks of life. As with buildings, what is important to life is not only their blocks but how they are arranged. Cells are organized into individuals. In the next two chapters, we will focus on the discovery that life’s hierarchy doesn’t stop at three levels. Individuals are organized into populations, which are organized into biological communities, which are organized into even higher levels, ecosystems. Studying these higher levels of organization and the processes and factors that explain them is the subject of ecology, one of biology’s youngest and most complex branches. 15-1 What Is Ecology? For much of the 20th century, ecology was little noted or understood outside of academic circles.Then came the 1970s.Within the course of a few years, environmental awareness blossomed and ecology was swept into the limelight. Books, television programs, newspaper articles, and even movies appeared, claiming to be ecological. “Save the Ecology” became a theme at public demonstrations, often with the underlying assump- tion that the primary goal was to save pristine wilderness. But environmental concern is not ecology. Certainly, ecological principles are at work in wilderness, but they are equally at work in situations dominated by human activities.Vultures scavenging a lion kill in east Africa are of interest to ecologists. So are rats scavenging dumpsters in urban America (Figure 15-1). So, what exactly is ecology? And what is it not?
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15-1 What Is Ecology? 489 Figure 15-2 In Denali National Park, Alaska, in summer grizzly bears spend much of their time digging out Arctic ground squirrels from rocky burrows. Ecology Is a Branch of Biology
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This note was uploaded on 01/08/2011 for the course CJS 212 taught by Professor Smith during the Summer '10 term at University of Phoenix.

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sci230r6_week6_reading3 - c15.qxd 12/10/04 9:40 AM Page 487...

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