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Chapter 50

Biology Chapter 50.docx

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Jon Stone

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1Chapter 50 An Introduction to EcologyEcology is the study of how organisms interact with their environmentAreas of Ecological StudyOrganismal EcologyoHow individuals interact with each other and their physical environmentoResearchers explore the morphological physiological and behavioural adaptations that allow individuals to live successfully in a particular areaoAlso focuses on physiological adaptations that allow individuals to thrive in heat drought cold or other demanding physical conditions oEx Sockeye SalmonAfter spending four or five years feeding and growing in the ocean salmon travel long distances to return to stream where they hatchedFemales create nests in the gravel stream bottom and lay eggsNearby males compete for the chance to fertilize eggs as they are laidWhen breeding is finished all adults dieoBiologists want to know how these individuals interact with their physical surroundings and with other organisms in and around the streamWhich females get best nesting sites and lay most eggsWhich males are most successful in fertilizing eggsHow do individuals cope with transition from living in saltwater to living in freshwaterPopulation EcologyoA population is a group of individuals of the same species that live in the same area at the same timeoBiologists focus on how the number of individuals in a population change over timeoMathematical models of population growth have been used to predict the future of particular salmon populations 2oMany salmon populations have declined as their habitats have become dammed or pollutedoIf the factors that affect population size can be described accurately enough mathematical models can assess the impact of proposed dams changes in weather patterns altered harvest levels or specific types of protection effortsCommunity EcologyoA biological community consists of the species that interact with each other within a particular areaoResearchers ask how species interact with each other and the consequences of those interactionsMay concentrate on predation parasitism or competitionoBiologists might also analyze how groups of species respond to disturbances such as fires floods and volcanic eruptions oEx When they are at sea salmon eat smaller fish and are themselves hunted and eaten by orcas sea lions humans and other mammalsWhen they return to freshwater to breed they are preyed on by bears and bald eaglesIn both habitats they are subject to parasitism and diseaseEcosystem EcologyoAn ecosystem consists of all the organisms in a particular region along with nonliving componentsoThese physical or abiotic components include air water and soiloBiologists study how energy and nutrients cycle through the environment oEx Salmon form a link between marine and freshwater ecosystemsThey harvest nutrients in the ocean and when they die and decompose they transport these molecules to streamsIn this way salmon transport chemical energy and nutrients from one habitat to anotherConservation biology is the effort to study preserve and restore threatened populations communities and ecosystems
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