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Population Ecology

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BIOL 2010
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CHAPTER 54- POPULATION ECOLOGY 54.1 How Do Ecologists Study Populations? • Population consists of the individuals of a species within a given area • any given time, an individual organism occupies only one spot in space- particular age and size • members are distributed over space, differ in age and size • age distribution of individuals in a pop’n and the way they are spread over the environment describe its population structure • population density: number of individuals of a pop’n per unit of area • structure of a pop’n changes continually b/c of demographic events- births, deaths, immigration, emigration • study of birth death and movement rates that create population dynamics changes in pop’n structure and density) is known as demography • ecologists determine how many individuals are found in an area and where they are located • individuals change their locations by migrating or dispersing • investigators need to be able to recognize and track individual animals • field studies of animals pop’ns require tagging or marking individuals in some way • birds are marked by coloured bands on legs; butterflies coloured spots on wings; bees-numbered tags on bodies; mammals-tags or dye on fur; plants- tags on branch or nearby ground • microchips and other forms of electronic tagging are used on organism of all sizes • molecular markers used to determine movement of individuals over long distances • one way – analyze the chemical composition of feathers that the birds molt as they migrate south-can determine where they molted by evaluating hydrogen isotopes in feathers b/c there is a strong latitudinal gradient in stable hydrogen isotopes in precipitation • Most individuals molted their feathers close to the breeding ground POPULATION DENSITIES • Ecologists usually measure the densities of organism in terrestrial environments as the number of individuals per unit of area • For species whose members differ markedly in size, such as plants and animals, the percentage of ground covered or the total mass of individuals may be more useful measures of density than the number of individuals • most accurate way to determine the density and structure of a pop’n is to count every individual and note its location • estimating pop’n densities is easiest for sedentary organisms • only need to count # of individuals in a sample of representative habitats and extrapolate the counts to entire ecosystem • counting mobile organisms is much more difficult b/c they move into and out of census areas • involves capturing, marking ,releasing-after having time to mix with the unmarked individuals, another sample is taken-proportion of individuals in new sample that is marked can be used to estimate the size of the pop’n using the formula m 2n 2n /1 n1=# of marked in first sample nd n2=total # of individuals in 2 sample m 2# of marked in second sample N= estimated size of total pop’n • estimates of total pop’n size will be inaccurate if marked individuals learn to avoid traps or leave study area BIRTH AND DEATH RATES • ecologists use estimates of pop’n densities to estimate the rate at which births, deaths and movements take place in a pop’n and study how rates are influences by environmental factors • the number of individuals in a pop’n at given time is equal to the # present at some time in past plus the # born between then and now, minus the # tht died, plus the # that immigrated into teh pop’n, minus the # that emigrated • life table-created by tracking a group of individuals born at the same time (cohort) and determining the # that are still alive at later dates (survivorship) • used to predict future trends in pop’n • study of the seed-eating cactus finch-210 birds that hatched in 1978, followed until 1991, only 3 alive; mortality rates high during first yr then dropped for several yrs, then increase later; survival of birds depends on seed production which is related to rainfall • graphs are helpful for highlighting important changes in pop’ns • survivorship curves fall into 3 patterns: o most individuals survive for most of their potential life span and die about the same age o probability of surviving to the next yr is abt the same over most of the life span once individuals are a few months old o produce a large # of offspring, each of which receives little investment of energy • high death rates of young individuals are followed by high survival rates 54.2 HOW DO ECOLOGICAL CONDITIONS AFFECT LIFE HISTORIES • life history: describes how organism allocates its time and energy among the variance activities that occupy its life • female rockfish continue to grow throughout their lives; larger females are much more productive than smaller females b/c the # of eggs a female produces is proportional to her size; older, larger females produce eggs with larger oil droplets-provide energy to newly hatched-grow faster and survive better • guppies living in predator-free areas upstream from those waterfalls have low mortality rates; those that live below the falls have high mortality rates; david reznick reared 240 guppies from high-predation and low predation sites; supplied some with plentiful food and others with limited; where no predators were present, guppies from high-predation sites matured earlier, reproduced more 54.3 WHAT FACTORS INFLUENCE POPULATION DENSITIES • as the # of individuals in a pop’n increases, the # of new individuals added per unit of time accelerates, even if the rate of increase expre
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