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Ecology and Evolution
Introduction to Ecology
What is ecology and why study ecology?
What important ideas will emerge in your study of ecology?
Why Should I Care
Natural resource management (e.g., the relationship between biodiversity and
Environmental problems (e.g., climate change, pollution, invasive species)
Human health (e.g., emerging diseases, antibiotic resistance, gene x environment
What is Ecology?
Ecology is the study of the interactions between an organism and its biological and
Abiotic (physical) environment
o Temperature, water availability, soil, salinity, nutrients
Biotic (biological) environment
o Predators, prey, parasites, pathogens, symbionts
Ecology is Hierarchically Subdivided
Organismal ecology: interactions between individuals and their environment
o Physiological ecology
o Behavioral ecology
Population ecology: dynamics of a group of individuals of a single species
o Population genetics, demography
Community ecology: interactions among a group of coexisting species
Ecosystem ecology: interactions between ecological communities and their abiotic
E▯osphere or ▯iosphere: su▯ of all Earth’s e▯osyste▯s
Questions in Ecology and Evolution
o Look for underlying mechanisms
o Often emphasize proximate causation
o E.g., how do kangaroo rats obtain water?
o How do elephant seals select mates?
o How do barnacles disperse?
o Address ultimate causation
o Most sophisticated questions
o Evolution often underlies answers to why questions
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