LAR 322 – Ecological Foundations: Wildlife (refer to Wright 2008, chap. 10)
Lee R. Skabelund, notes adapted from Tim Keane
– “The Biophilia Hypothesis” by Edward O. Wilson. 1984.
Wilson defines “biophilia” as the “innate tendency to focus on life and life-like processes”; a biological
(genetic) human need for deep and intimate association with the natural environment, particularly its
living biota. This is a compelling hypothesis with some very challenging assertions – namely, that our
interests in living things are:
part of our species’ evolutionary heritage;
associated with human competitive advantages and genetic fitness; likely to increase the possibility for
achieving individual meaning and personal fulfillment; and, the self-interested basis for a human ethic of
care and conservation of nature, most especially the diversity of life.
While the hypothesis is fascinating and may at least partially explain our fascination with wildlife, we
will leave the theory here and look at what little we know about the world of wildlife.
: a classification system analogous to the floristic classification of plants
discussed previously, with units or taxons: class, order, family, genus, species, and sub-species.
1. mammals (i.e. small, large, game, fur-bearers, etc.)
2. birds (i.e. song, shore, raptors, upland, waterfowl, etc.)
3. reptiles and amphibians
4. fishes (i.e. game, rough, anadromous, fresh-water, salt-water, etc.)
Environmental or Ecological Classifications
1. Terrestrial & Aquatic (the grossest divisions; there are many subdivisions)
II. Key Concepts and Factors of Wildlife Systems
: An average number of animals (not a fixed or static number) that represent the
highest density of animals a given habitat can support without degrading that habitat.
: sum total of factors (abiotic and biotic) surrounding the animal and providing for its needs
typically seen as food, water, and cover – tied together as one system.
: obviously varies by species but typical classes include:
a. preferred—high protein, maintains growth & health (seeds, fruits & insects are incredibly nutritious)
b. staple—maintenance foods
c. emergency—eaten during times of weight loss, health decline
d. stuffing—no/very little nutritional value
: for terrestrial animal classes include:
a. free water—surface water or snow/ice melt
c. succulence—plant water
d. metabolic—metabolized water
: again varies with species, classes include:
a. winter cover—many species need protection from wind, and vegetation can play a vital function
b. refuge cover—vertical layering of vegetation can be very important
c. loafing/resting cover—for cover needs for birds see:
d. nesting and roosting cover—vegetation is critical for concealment/safety. Note that “prairie chickens