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BIOL 1902
Michael Runtz

Natural History – Some Notes for Week 1 Natural History: An observational science that involves looking at all living things. Natural history knowledge is essential for assessments of ecosystems or habitats. It is also one of the most enjoyable pursuits in the world. Naturalist: One who studies and enjoys Natural History. Clothes must be worn and are not optional. Animals: A Kingdom that includes Birds, Reptiles, Amphibians, Fish, Mammals, Insects, Spiders, Clams, and lots of other organisms. Natural Selection: the driving force behind evolution. It consists of all the selective pressures placed on plants and animals by the environment (such as wind or cold or drought) or by animals (such as predators or even members of the same species). Those poorly adapted do not survive to pass on their genes and those that are better adapted tend to survive and pass on their genes allowing the adaptation to persist into the future and possibly become more refined. Natural Selection was first recognized by Charles Darwin. Adaptation: any feature that offers a plant or animal an advantage in solving any life problem that give it a chance of surviving and reproducing. An adaptation is not an act of intelligence or a planned solution but a physical, physiological, or behavioural trait that has evolved because of the selective pressures of natural selection. No adaptation is perfect and often an adaptation has drawbacks associated with it that require another adaptation to resolve. This makes Natural History so very, very interesting because never is there only one solution to any problem. Instead, many solutions have arisen to solve every challenge. DEFENCES OF ANIMALS: A) PHYSICAL CAMOUFLAGE: colours and patterns that allow animals to blend into the background. Cryptic behaviour: Remaining motionless to allow camouflage to work. Crypsis: the art of concealment or remaining hidden Types of Camouflage 1. Background Matching: Having the same general patterns and colours as the immediate environment. Examples: For sun-dappled forest habitats, blotches and earth-toned colours help animals hide. Examples: ground nesting birds such as female grouse (also female ducks), White-tailed deer fawns. Gray Tree Frog** also changes its colour (the only other animal we have that changes colour is a Snowshoe Hare but they do that seasonally, not every time they are placed on a different background, as Gray Tree Frogs do.) Different habitats require different patterns for camouflage: Marshes and grasslands are dominated by vertical lines. Many animals sport stripes and streaks in these habitats. Examples: In grassland habitats: sparrows such as Savannah Sparrow For marshes: American Bittern 2. Background Mimicry: Having the same physical appearance as part of the environment. Examples are dead leaf mimics (Anglewing butterflies, certain moths), twig mimics (Walking
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