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McMaster University
Jon Stone

Introduction to Ecology Areas of Ecological StudyIn ecology researchers work at four main levels organisms populations communities and ecosystemsOrganismal ecologists explore the morphological physiological and behavioural adaptations that allow individuals organisms to live successfully in a particular areao Behavioural ecology o Eco physiology physiological ecology of plants and animals o Reproductive ecology of plants and animalsPopulation EcologyA population is a group of individuals of the same time species that lives in the same area at the same time Population ecologists focus on how the numbers of individuals in a population change over timeo Life history tradeoffs between survivorship and reproductiono Age structure of populations o Modeling of competition predation and hostpathogen interactions o Modeling of fisheries and other natural harvestCommunity EcologyA biological community consists of the species that interact with one another within a particular areaCommunity ecologists study the nature and consequences of the interactions among species in a community At this level ecologists also analyze how groups of species respond to natural disturbances such as fire and flood Ecosystem EcologyAn ecosystem consists of all the organisms in a particular region along with nonliving or abiotic componentsEcosystem ecologists study how nutrients and energy move among and between organisms and the surrounding atmosphere and soil or waterBecause humans are affecting energy flows and climate this work has diet public policy implications How do Ecology and Conservation Efforts InteractThe four levels of ecological study are synthesized and applied in conservation biologyConservation biology the effort to study preserve and restore threatened populations communities and ecosystems Conservation biologists prescribe remedies for threatened species and managedland to produce a diversity of species clean air pure water and productive soilsEcology isThe study of interactions between organisms and their environmentsThe study of plants and animals at home that is to say in their natural environment from the Greek word oikos a houseQuantitative natural historyThe study of complex systems where we sees the consequences of many forces each of small effect An interdisciplinary approach to biological systems o Economics arises from the same Greek work oikos and literally means household management Ecology is a Young ScienceLate 1800s in EuropeHistory affects how the science is structured o Some separation from genetics and evolution o Separation between plant ecology and animal ecology History of Attempts To Make Ecology A Rigorous Science Using Latin terminology A 1905 ecology book defined the geotome as an instrument for obtaining soil samples shovelPhysics envy search for universal lawsModellingHypothesis testing null hypothesisignores the importance of descriptionStatistical methods Ecology and Statistical MethodsStatistics are an integral part of ecologyEcology is a young science about complex systems with many interacting factors of small effect Scientists in their own field anyway consider that there are NO facts Rather there is evidence and there is interpretation In ecology undergraduates can also evaluate the evidence and its interpretationPlant Behaviour IntroductionBehaviour is action a response to a stimulusBehavioural biology is essentially ecological Ecology is the study of how organisms interact with their physical and biological environments and behavioural biology is the study of how organisms respond to particular stimuli from those environments Proximate or mechanistic causation explains how actions occur Ultimate or evolutionary causation explains why actions occurEfforts to explain behaviour at the proximate and ultimate levels are complementaryKey Concepts After describing behaviour biologists seek to explain both its proximate and ultimate causesmeaning how it happens at the genetic and physiological levels and how it affects the individuals fitness
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