Ecology Theory

Ecology theory is the study of interactions among plant, animal, microbial and abiotic factors within an ecosystem.  Elements of this field include genetics, speciation, population dynamics, plant communities and predator/prey dynamics. The processes that relate to genetics include mutation, genetic drift and population bottlenecks. Within the interactions flora and fauna associations there are many types of mathematical models to explain the spatial relations and population dynamics of individual taxa. Besides models that depict the growth and decline, there are more specialized analyses which portray seed dispersal, migration patterns, symbioses and pollination. The abiotic factors of meteorology, soil and water chemistry are also vital in understanding the total ecological community.

The phenomena of autotrophism, herbivory and carnivory are intrinsic to ecology theory, in order to understand the complexity of the food web.  Processes disease transmission and organism decay are further inherent  elements;  further, within the realm of ecology theory are the phenomena of habitat fragmentation, refugia and biological corridors;  these larger scale features address the integrity of entire ecological communities and lead to strategies of conservation biology.  

  • Habitat fragmentation Featured Article Habitat fragmentation Habitat fragmentation

    Habitat fragmentation involves alteration of habitat resulting in spatial separation of habitat units from a previous state of greater... More »

  • Respiration Featured Article Respiration Respiration

    Respiration is the gas exchange effected by living organisms for the purpose of sustaining vital metabolic processes. In the case of most animals, oxygen is taken into the... More »

  • Herbivore Featured Article Herbivore Herbivore

    A herbivore is an animal that obtains its energy and nutrients by feeding on plants.  Different types of herbivores eat different plant parts.  For example, folivores... More »

  • Sunlight Featured Article Sunlight Sunlight

    Sunlight is the electromagnetic radiation arriving at the Earth's surface due to direct illumination by the sun; this radiation includes ultraviolet, visible and... More »

  • Extremophile Featured Article Extremophile Extremophile

    An extremophile is an organism adapted to unusual limits of one or more abiotic factors in the environment. Some of the extreme conditions are temperature, pH, high salinity,... More »

  • Thermal pollution Featured Article Thermal pollution Thermal pollution

    Thermal pollution is the act of altering the temperature of a natural water body, which may be a river, lake or ocean environment. This condition chiefly arises from the... More »

  • Benthos Featured Article Benthos Benthos

    Benthos is one of three major ecological groups into which marine organisms are divided, the other two being the nekton and the plankton. The benthos are organisms and... More »

  • DNA Featured Article DNA DNA

    Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is a long chain organic molecule that contains the coding for all metabolic and reproductive processes of all living organisms, save for certain... More »

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Species richness Last Updated on 2014-11-09 19:13:40 Species richness is simply the number of species present in a sample, community, or taxonomic group. Species richness is one component of the concept of species diversity, which also incorporates evenness, that is, the relative abundance of species. Species diversity is one component of the broader concept of biodiversity. About 1.75 million living species and 300,000 fossil species have been described by scientists. Estimates of the total species richness of the Earth range from three to 10 million, with some estimates as high as 50 million. Patterns of species richness can be observed at a variety of levels. The causes of these patterns remain active areas of research in ecology, biogeography, and evolutionary biology. Some taxonomic groups of organisms have more species than other groups. For example, there are almost three times more species of beetles (Order Coleoptera) than... More »
Species range limits Last Updated on 2014-11-09 18:49:44 Species range limits (SRLs) are defined as the spatial boundaries beyond which no living individuals of a given species occur.  Populations occurring near or at SRLs are often referred to as “marginal,” “peripheral,” “edge,” or “border” populations.  SRLs may represent areas beyond which individuals cannot physiologically tolerate ecological conditions or areas where they have not yet dispersed.  SRLs may be stable (i.e., at equilibrium) or may represent areas where range expansion through migration or population growth is in the process of occurring.  SRLs are significant to ecology, evolution, and conservation for several reasons.  They provide opportunities to understand the conditions under which populations expand or contract, and the conditions under which populations may evolve new forms. Additionally, SRLs... More »
Umbrella species Last Updated on 2014-11-09 18:40:24   The concept of an umbrella species has been used by conservation practitioners to provide protection for other species using the same habitat as the umbrella species.  As the term implies, a species casts an “umbrella” over the other species by being more or equally sensitive to habitat changes. Thus monitoring this one species and managing for its continued success results in the maintenance of high quality habitat for the other species in the area.  Animals identified as umbrella species typically have large home ranges that cover multiple habitat types.  Therefore, protecting the umbrella species effectively protects many habitat types and the many species that depend on those habitats. Although the effectiveness of this conservation approach is debated, it is often used by practitioners to select a minimum size for protected... More »
Deforestation Last Updated on 2014-11-09 17:48:51 Deforestation is the destruction or clearing of forested lands, usually for the purposes of expanding agricultural land or for timber harvesting. When the process is conducted by clearcutting (removal of most or all of the canopy tree growth, leaving few or no live or dead trees standing) or when mass forest burning occurs, significant losses of habitat and biodiversity may result, including the erosion of biological community structure and the extinction of species. Deforestation is proceeding at a rapid pace in may areas of the world, especially in the tropical and boreal forest regions of the earth, with annual net loss of forests during the 1990s estimated in the range of nine to sixteen million hectares per annum. Large scale deforestation may have adverse impacts on biosequestration of atmospheric carbon dioxide, exacerbating greenhouse gas buildup, through the release of stored... More »
Plant Last Updated on 2014-10-28 12:04:37 A plant is any one of the vast number of organisms within the biological kingdom Plantae; in general, these species are considered of limited motility and generally manufacture their own food. They include a host of familiar organisms including trees, forbs, shrubs, grasses, vines, ferns, and mosses. Conventionally the term plant implies a taxon with characteristics of multicellularity, cell structure with walls containing cellulose, and organisms capable of photosynthesis. Modern classification schemes are driven by somewhat rigid categorizations inherent in DNA and common ancestry.[1] Throughout most of the history of science from Aristotle to Linnaeus and into the 20th century, species were divided into two kingdoms: animals and plants. Driven by DNA characterizations and other modern analysis, fungi and bacteria have now been removed to separate kingdoms; in particular,... More »