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Chapter 53

BIOL 1030 Chapter 53: Chapter 53 Community Ecology
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Department
Biological Sciences
Course Code
BIOL 1030
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Scott Kevin

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Chapter 53 Community Ecology Lecture Outline Overview: What Is a Community? • A community is defined as an assemblage of species living close enough together for potential interaction. • Communities differ in their species richness, the number of species they contain, and the relative abundance of different species. Concept 53.1 A community’s interactions include competition, predation, herbivory, symbiosis, and disease • There are a number of possible interspecific interactions that link the species of a community. • Interspecific interactions can be symbolized by the positive (+) or negative (?) effects of the interaction on the individual populations. • 0 indicates that a population is not affected by the interaction. • The effect of an interaction between two species may change as circumstances change. • Interspecific competition can occur when species compete for a specific limiting resource. • When two species compete for a resource, the result is detrimental to one or both species (?/?) • Strong competition can lead to the local elimination of one of the two competing species, a process called competitive exclusion. • The competitive exclusion principle states that two species with similar needs for the same limiting resources cannot coexist in the same place. • The ecological niche is the sum total of a species’ use of abiotic and biotic resources in the environment. • In the analogy stated by ecologist Eugene Odum, an organism’s habitat is its “address,” and the niche is the organism’s “profession.” • For example, the niche of a tropical tree lizard includes the temperature range it tolerates, the size of branches it perches on, the time of day when it is active, and the kind of insects it eats. • The competitive exclusion principle can be restated to say that two species cannot coexist in a community if their niches are identical. • However, ecologically similar species can coexist in a community if their niches differ in one or more significant ways. • A species’ fundamental niche is the niche potentially occupied by that species. • The fundamental niche may differ from the realized niche, the niche a species actually occupies in a particular environment. • When competition between two species with identical niches does not lead to the local extinction of either species, it is generally because evolution by natural selection results in modification of the resources used by one of the species. • Resource partitioning is the differentiation of niches that enables two similar species to coexist in a community. • Character displacement is the tendency for characteristics to be more divergent in sympatric populations of two species than in allopatric populations of the same two species. • Predation is a +/- interaction between species in which one species, the predator, kills and eats the other, the prey. • The term predation elicits images such as a lion attacking and eating an antelope. • This interaction also includes interactions such as seed predation, in which seed-eating weevils eat plant seeds. • Natural selection favors adaptations of predators and prey. • Predators have many feeding adaptations, including acute senses and weaponry such as claws, fangs, stingers, or poison to help catch and subdue prey. • Predators that pursue prey are generally fast and agile; those who lie in ambush are often camouflaged. • Prey animals have evolved adaptations that help them avoid being eaten. • Behavioral defenses include fleeing, hiding, and self-defense. • Alarm calls may summon many individuals of the prey species to mob the predator. • Adaptive coloration has evolved repeatedly in animals. • Camouflage or cryptic coloration makes prey difficult to spot against the background. • Some animals have mechanical or chemical defenses. • Chemical defenses include odors and toxins. • Animals with effecting chemical defenses often exhibit bright warning aposematic coloration. • Predators are cautious in approaching potential prey with bright coloration. • One prey species may gain protection by mimicking the appearance of another prey species. • In Batesian mimicry a harmless, palatable species mimics a harmful, unpalatable model. • In Müllerian mimicry, two or more unpalatable species resemble each other. • Each species gains an additional advantage because predators are more likely to encounter an unpalatable prey and learn to avoid prey with that appearance. • Predators may also use mimicry. • Some snapping turtles have tongues resembling wiggling worms to lure small fish. • Herbivory is a +/- interaction in which an herbivore eats parts of a plant or alga. • Herbivores include large mammals and small invertebrates. • Herbivores have specialized adaptations. • Many herbivorous insects have chemical sensors on their feet to recognize appropriate food plants. • Mammalian herbivores have specialized dentition and digestive systems to process vegetation. • Plants may produce chemical toxins, which may act in combination with spines and thorns to prevent herbivory. • Parasitism is a +/? symbiotic interaction in which a parasite derives its nourishment from a host, which is harmed in the process. • Endoparasites live within the body of the host; ectoparasites live and feed on the external surface of the host. • Parasitoidism is a special type of parasitism in which an insect (usually a wasp) lays eggs on or in living hosts. • The larvae feed on the body of the host, eventually killing it. • Many parasites have complex life cycles involving a number of hosts. • Some parasites change the behavior of their hosts in ways that increase the probability of the parasite being transferred from one host to another. • Parasites can have significant direct and indirect effects on the survival, reproduction, and density of their host populations. • Pathogens are disease-causing agents that have deleterious effects on their hosts (+/?) • Pathogens are typically bacteria, viruses, or protists. • Fungi and prions can also be pathogenic. • Parasites are generally large, multicellular organisms, while most pathogens are microscopic. • Many pathogens are lethal. • Mutualism is an interspecific symbiosis in which two species benefit from their interaction (+/+). • Examples of mutualism include nitrogen fixation by bacteria in the root nodules of legumes; digestion of cellulose by microorganisms in the guts of ruminant mammals; and the exchange of nutrients in mycorrhizae, the association of fungi and plant roots. • Mutualistic interactions may result in the evolution of related adaptations in both species. • Commensalism is an interaction that benefits one species but neither harms nor helps the other (+/0). • Commensal interactions are difficult to document in nature because any close association between species likely affects both species, if only slightly. • For example, “hitchhiking” species, such as the barnacles that attach to whales, are sometimes considered commensal. • The hitchhiking barnacles gain access to a substrate and seem to have little effect on the whale. • However, the barnacles may slightly reduce the host’s efficiency of movement. • Conversely, they may provide some camouflage. • Coevolution refers to reciprocal evolutionary adaptations of two interacting species. • A change in one species acts as a selective force on another species, whose adaptation in turn acts as a selective force on the first species. • The linkage of adaptations requires that genetic change in one of the interacting populations of the two species be tied to genetic change in the other population. • An example is the gene-for-gene recognition between a plant species and a species of virulent pathogen. • In contrast, the aposematic coloration of various tree frog species and the aversion reactions of various predators are not examples of coevolution. • These are adaptations to other organisms in the community rather than coupled genetic changes in two interacting species. Concept 53.2 Dominant and keystone species exert strong controls on community structure Species diversity is a fundamental aspect of community structure. • A small number of species in the community exert strong control on that community’s structure, especially on the composition, relative abundance, and diversity of species. • The species diversity of a community is the variety of different kinds of organisms that make up the community. • Species diversity has two components. • Species richness is the total number of different species in the community. • The relative abundance of the different species is the proportion each species represents of the total individuals in the community. • Species diversity is dependent on both species richness and relative abundance. • Measuring species diversity may be difficult, but is essential for understanding community structure and for conserving biodiversity. Trophic structure is a key factor in community dynamics. • The trophic structure of a community is determined by the feeding relationships between organisms. • The transfer of food energy up the trophic levels from its source in autotrophs (usually photosynthetic organisms) through herbivores (primary consumers) and carnivores (secondary and tertiary consumers) and eventually to decomposers is called a food chain. • In the 1920s, Oxford University biologist Charles Elton recognized that food chains are not isolated units but are linked together into food webs. • A food web uses arrows to link species according to who eats whom in a community. • How are food chains linked into food webs? • A given species may weave into the web at more than one trophic level. • Food webs can be simplified in two ways. • We can group species in a given community into broad functional groups. • For example, phytoplankton can be grouped as primary producers in an aquatic food web. • A second way to simplify a food web is to isolate a portion of the web that interacts little with the rest of the community. • Each food chain within a food web is usually only a few links long. • Charles Elton pointed out that the length of most food chains is only four or five links. • Why are food chains relatively short? • The energetic hypothesis suggests that the length of a food chain is limited by the inefficiency of energy transfer along the chain. • Only about 10% of the energy stored in the organic matter of each trophic level is converted to organic matter at the next trophic level. • The energetic hypothesis predicts that food chains should be relatively longer in habitats with higher photosynthetic productivity. • The dynamic stability hypothesis suggests that long food chains are less stable than short chains. • Population fluctuations at lower trophic levels are magnified at higher levels, making top predators vulnerable to extinction. • In a variable environment, top predators must be able to recover from environmental shocks that can reduce the food supply all the way up the food chain. • The dynamic stability hypothesis predicts that food chains should be shorter in unpredictable environments. • Most of the available data supports the energetic hypothesis. • Another factor that may limit the length of food chains is that, with the exception of parasites, animals tend to be larger at successive trophic levels. • Certain species have an especially large impact on community structure because they are highly abundant or because they play a pivotal role in community dynamics. • The exaggerated impact of these species may occur through their trophic interactions or through their influences on the physical environment. • Dominant species are those species in a community that are most abundant or have the highest biomass (the sum weight of all individuals in a population). • There is no single explanation for why a species becomes dominant in a community. • One hypothesis suggests that dominant species are competitively successful at exploiting limiting resources. • Another hypothesis suggests that dominant species are most successful at avoiding predation or disease. • This could explain why invasive species can achieve such high biomass in their new environments, in the absence of their natural predators and pathogens. • One way to investigate the impact of a dominant species is to remove it from the community. • Keystone species are not necessarily abundant in a community. • They influence community structure by their key ecological niches. • If keystone species are removed, community structure is greatly affected. • Ecologist Robert Paine of the University of Washington first developed the concept of keystone species. • Paine removed the sea star Pisaster ochraceous from rocky intertidal communities. • Pisaster is a predator on mussels such as Mytilus californianus, a superior competitor for space in the intertidal areas. • After Paine removed Pisaster, the mussels were able to monopolize space and exclude other invertebrates and algae from attachment sites. • When sea stars were present, 15 to 20 species of invertebrates and algae occurred in the intertidal zone. • After experimental removal of Pisaster, species diversity declined to fewer than 5 species. • Pisaster thus acts as a keystone species, exerting an influence on community structure that is disproportionate to its abundance. • Some organisms exert their influence by causing physical changes in the environment that affect community structure. • An example of such a species is the beaver, which tran
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