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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 continuity. ... 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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Ecoregion Last Updated on 2014-02-20 14:19:20 An ecoregion is a relatively large unit of land or ocean that contains geographically distinct assemblage of natural communities with boundaries that approximate the original extent of natural communities prior to major land use change. Ecoregions: share a large majority of their species and ecological dynamics; share similar environmental conditions, and; interact ecologically in ways that are critical for their long-term persistence. The motivation for the ecoregion classification system is that scarce resources and dwindling time force conservationists to target their actions to stem the loss of biodiversity — a pragmatic approach, given the highly uneven distribution of species and threats. Unfortunately, the ability to focus strategically is hindered by the absence of a global biodiversity map with sufficient biogeographic resolution to accurately reflect the complex... More »
Herbivore Last Updated on 2014-02-13 16:58:29 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 feed on leaves, frugivores feed on fruits, granivores feed on seeds, pollinivores feed on pollen, and nectarivores feed on nectar. Herbivores can vary greatly in size, ranging from the largest terrestrial animals (elephants) and large marine mammals such as manatees and dugongs to small insects, nematodes and thrips.  Herbivores are primary consumers (they receive their energy by consuming primary producers), so they play an important trophic role in ecological communities and food webs.   Because mature leaves are low in nutrients, and difficult to digest because of their high cellulose content, animals use many different strategies to eat leaves. Animals that feed on grass leaves are generally... More »
Respiration Last Updated on 2014-01-31 16:43:42 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 organism, and carbon dioxide is expelled. In the case of plants, the inverse process occurs of consuming carbon dioxide and expelling oxygen as a waste gas. Respiration may also be viewed at a cellular level, examining gas exchange at the cell wall; for very simple organisms, such as unicellular lifeforms, the process of gas exchange with the environment is simplified, so that cellular wall gas exchange is the totality of respiration for such an organism. In the case of some bacteria and archaea, respiration sometimes occurs without any oxygen, and alternative molecular gases such as hydrogen sulfide or methane may participate in respiration and subsequent cellular metabolic reactions. Often such organisms are... More »
Desert birds Last Updated on 2013-10-29 21:52:31 Deserts are challenging environments. Any organism that makes the desert its home must be able to cope with extreme temperatures and a scarce supply of water. Birds have the obvious advantage of flight which allows many of them to be only temporary visitors stopping off along their migrations, or seasonal inhabitants sticking around to breed during the more favorable seasons and leaving when things get too rough. There are a limited number of bird species that can truly call themselves desert dwellers, living primarily or only in such arid environments and not migrating. These birds possess some fascinating adaptations for dealing with life in the desert. (see: Adaptations of desert birds and mammals) Organisms living in desert environments face several challenges including (1) obtaining and retaining water, (2) regulating their body temperature, and (3) obtaining and conserving... More »
Refugia Last Updated on 2013-10-21 15:07:19 Refugia (singular Refugium) are geographical locations where natural environmental conditions have remained relatively constant or stable during times of great environmental change, such as eras of glacial advance and retreat. Refugia protect populations of geographically isolated organisms which may then re-colonize a region when the wider environment returns to levels within the organism's tolerance levels. This idea is commonly referred to as The Refugia Theory. Haffer (1969) first proposed the idea of refugia to explain the high diversity of Amazonian bird species seen today. Haffer (1969) proposed that the Amazon Basin paleoclimate experienced several warm, dry periods during episodes of continental glacier advance in the Pleistocene. These glacially driven periods led to the conversion of forest to savanna, which resulted in the isolation of small fragments of forest... More »