Ecology is the study of a community of biota, including the interactions with abiotic factors such as soils, water, and meteorological factors. The field of ecology addresses interactions of plants and animals including feeding behavior, selection of nesting or denning sites and competition among species. Time changes are particularly important, such as landscape changes arising from plant succession. Conservation of habitats is analyzed in order to determine the viability of not only individual species, but of the entire assemblage of flora, fauna and micro-organisms in a given ecosystem.
The Cheetah, Acinonyx jubatus, is a vulnerable species within the cat family. While the fastest land animal and an adept hunter, this felid is not agressive...
LichenLast Updated on 2014-08-28 00:58:22
The lichen has traditionally been referred to as a prime example of a symbiotic relationship. Each lichen consists of an intimate association between a fungus and a species of algae. The algae within the lichen photosynthesizes, providing food for both symbionts. The fungus protects the alga from harmful light intensities, produces a substance that accelerates photosynthesis in the algae, and absorbs and retains water and minerals for both organisms. There is physiological and ultrastructural evidence that suggests the fungus parasitizes the algae in a controlled fashion and, in some instances, actually destroys the algal cells. There are about 25,000 species of lichens known and they are capable of living in environmental conditions that kill most other forms of life. The number of aquatic lichens is limited as most live under the blazing sun often on bare rocks. Aquatic... More »
India’s Western Ghats: Biodiversity and Medicinal PlantsLast Updated on 2014-08-25 12:44:43
India’s Western Ghats is a rolling mountain range containing such great biodiversity that it has been named as one of the world's eight ‘hottest hotspots of biological diversity. Spread along the entire west coast of India, this mountain range contains a large proportion of the country's plant and animal species, many of which are endemic. Over 5000 species of flowering plants, 139 species of mammals, 508 species of birds, including 22 endemics, 225 species of reptiles, and 179 species of amphibians live in the region.
Starting from the northern part of Mumbai, this extensive mountain range extends over Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu to the southern tip of India.
The northern part of the range contains almost half of the reptiles, one third of the plants, and more than three fourths of the amphibians found in India. The southwestern Ghats... More »
Galapagos IslandsLast Updated on 2014-08-21 21:02:05The Galapagos Islands include 31 individual islands, 42 islets and 26 emergent rocks that form an archipelago located about 600 miles west of South American in the Pacific Ocean. The islands, which are part of Ecuador, have been designated as a National Park and as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Galapagos Islands are known for being home to many species of plants and animals that are not found anywhere else on the planet. The Galapagos Islands were named from the old Spanish word "galapago" (saddle) because of the shape of the shells of the islands' giant tortoises.
The Galapagos Islands are oceanic islands that have never been connected to any landmass. Instead these islands were produced by volcanic activity. Isabella, was formed by six volcanoes, but most islands were formed by the activity of only a... More »
Alberta Mountain forestsLast Updated on 2014-08-10 23:19:28
WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection
The Alberta Mountain forests ecoregion lies entirely within Canada and almost fully within the province of Alberta, but hugs the Alberta-British Columbia border from Banff northward to Jasper and Kakwa. The ecoregion is classified within the Temperate Coniferous Forests biome.
Mean annual temperature in the Eastern Continental Ranges is 2.5°C, mean summer temperature is 12°C and mean winter temperature is -7.5°C. Precipitation increases from east to west and also with elevation, from 600-800 millimetres (mm) per year. Valley regions are marked by warm, dry summers and mild, snowy winters, and subalpine areas have cool, showery summers and cold, snowy winters.
This region covers the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, incorporating the eastern flanks of the Continental Ranges. The major peaks cluster... More »
Amphibian ecology and evolutionLast Updated on 2014-07-23 18:38:53
Amphibians are found in ponds, streams, wetlands of all types, under rotten logs, in leaf litter, in trees, underground, even in pools of rain water inside large leaves. However, they are not able to osmoregulate in salt water and, therefore, are not found in the ocean. Although some amphibians defy the rules and thrive in cold or dry conditions, the group reaches its highest diversity and numbers in warm, humid climates.
In the wet tropics, amphibians remain active all year around, but in the temperate zone, winter temperatures cool their bodies, forcing them to become inactive.
In the autumn, environmental cues direct amphibians to find moist, sheltered places like muddy pond bottoms or deep leaf litter to hibernate.
The wood frog (Rana sylvatica) has the most northerly range of any amphibian, crossing the Arctic circle, into the Mackenzie River valley in the Northwest... More »
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