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Lecture 28

BSC 385 Lecture 28: Chapter 19

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Biological Sciences
BSC 385
Carla Atkinson

Chapter 19: Landscape Ecology Landscape Ecology • Study of the interaction between spatial patterns and ecological processes • Recognizes the importance of spatial heterogeneity in the environment and the organisms’ responses to that variation • Explicitly addresses the size, shape and structure of ecologically distinct regions • Focuses on a much larger spatial scale than traditional ecological studies The Components of a Landscape • A landscape – a region in which ecological factors vary • A cover type – the main vegetation of an area • A patch – and area that differs in some ecological feature or process from its surroundings • Fragmentation – a process increasing the landscape’s patchiness Ways to Describe a Landscape • Local uniqueness – the physical and biological factors that make a particular locale different from others in the landscape • Phase differences – the spatial patterns that result from variation in the disturbance history or regime • Dispersal – the extent to which the movement of individuals or propagules swamps out local uniqueness and phase differences Abiotic Causes of Landscape Patterns • The primary causes of landscape patterns are climate and landform • Landform is a geological term referring to surface shape, elevation and slope Landscape Patterns • Biotic factors contribute to landscape patterns/ mosaic • Ecosystem engineers o Ex. Beavers, alligators • Keystone species • Predators, competitors, mutualists, parasites Recovery of the Black-Footed Ferret • The black-footed ferret is a specialized predator of prairie dogs • Susceptible to sylvatic plague • Thought to be extinct until a colony was discovered near Meeteetse, Wyoming in 1981 • 1981 – a captive breeding program using 18 surviving individuals • 1991 – reintroduction into the wild began • 300+ animals now in wild Landscape Genetics = Population Genetics + Landscape Ecology • Focuses on two key landscape features: o Local environmental differences in the selective regime o Barriers that disrupt gene flow and isolate populations • Provides hypotheses of evolutionary history and conservation potential of the populations What was Killing the Prairie Chickens? • Habitat destruction o Directly reduced the size of the population 2 o Fragmentation of the population lead to drift and inbreeding causing the exposure of deleterious recessive alleles and further loss of fitness o Further reducing population size only amplified the effects of inbreeding depression and drift o “Mutational meltdown” • The cure? o Artificial migration to restore genetic
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