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University of Toronto St. George
Human Biology

CHAPTER 54 POPULATION ECOLOGY541 How Do Ecologists Study PopulationsPopulation consists of the individuals of a species within a given areaany given time an individual organism occupies only one spot in spaceparticular age and sizemembers are distributed over space differ in age and sizeage distribution of individuals in a popn and the way they are spread over the environment describe its population structurepopulation densitynumber of individuals of a popn per unit of area structure of a popn changes continually bc of demographic events births deaths immigration emigrationstudy of birth death and movement rates that create population dynamics changes in popn structure and densityis known as demographyecologists determine how many individuals are found in an area and where they are locatedindividuals change their locations by migrating or dispersinginvestigators need to be able to recognize and track individual animalsfield studies of animals popns require tagging or marking individuals in some waybirds are marked by coloured bands on legs butterflies coloured spots on wings beesnumbered tags on bodies mammalstags or dye on fur plantstags on branch or nearby groundmicrochips and other forms of electronic tagging are used on organism of all sizesmolecular markers used to determine movement of individuals over long distances one wayanalyze the chemical composition of feathers that the birds molt as they migrate southcan determine where they molted by evaluating hydrogen isotopes in feathers bc there is a strong latitudinal gradient in stable hydrogen isotopes in precipitationMost individuals molted their feathers close to the breeding ground
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