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what is ecology.docx

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McMaster University
Kim Dej

September 6 , 2012 Biology 2F03: Fundamentals of Ecology What is Ecology? Question - what is ecology: branch of biology that deals with the relations of organisms to one another and to their physical surroundings. Forest birds – testing competition theory - why different species live together and how? - Can several species use the same resource (MacArthur): possibility that they cannot coexist - MacArthur analyzed Warblers in spruce forest - Different species of Warblers feed in different places on the tree - Lessons: 1. division of resources takes place as postulated, resulting from competition 2. as a result competition is reduced 3. aggression – one of mechanisms, ex.: warblers Forest birds – testing theory - where black-throated green warblers are absent yellow-rumped warblers move their feeding zone upwards - additional evidence: what would happen if only one species was present? - Points: 1. division of resources ceases as expected 2. the remaining species is released from competition 3. its habitat expands and abundance can grow Question - what are the examples of questions, research areas, and methods used by ecology? Nutrient budgets & large scale ecology - many things happen in the branches - photosynthesis, nutrient capture or release, other organisms (including plants: epiphytes) - sometimes research requires some risks or focuses on large scale processes; e.g. Hubbard Brook , experimental forest in New Hampshire, discovery of acid rain - example of studies: Hubbard Brock experimental watershed in New Hampshire (Likens and Borman) - comparison of two streams: one with vegetation and one without to see what chemicals are present - nutrients were still retained in organic mass, vegetation stabilizes it’s own resources
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