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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Amphibian ecology and evolution Last 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 »
Pinniped Last Updated on 2014-07-21 17:04:25 Pinnipeds ("finned-feet") are are group of marine mammals, that includes seals, sea lions, and walruses. The word pinniped is sometimes treated as a synonym for "seal" since all pinnipeds except for the the sole species of Walrus are seals (sea lions are eared seals).     Scientific Classification Kingdom: Animalia (Animals) Phylum:--- Chordata Class:------ Mammalia (Mammals) Order:-------- Carnivora (Carnivores) Family:-------- Otariidae (Eared seals) Pinnipeds differ form other marine mammals like whales, dolphins and porpoises in that they do not spend their entire lives in water. Pinnipeds "haul out" onto land and ice to mate, give birth, moult, and rest. Pinnipeds were agressively hunted until the early twentieth century for their skins, oil, meat and, in the case of... More »
Ecosystem services fact sheet Last Updated on 2014-07-09 17:01:53 This ecosystems services fact sheet is intended to provide an overview of the subject of ecosystem services, e.g. the economic consequences to humankind of benefits provided by the natural environment. This fact sheet was originally developed by the Ecological Society of America (ESA). Have you ever considered that the cereal you eat is brought to you each morning by the wind, or that the glass of clear, cold, clean water drawn from you faucet may have been purified for you by a wetland or perhaps the root system of an entire forest? Trees in your front yard work to trap dust, dirt, and harmful gases from the air you breathe. The bright fire of oak logs you light to keep warm on cold nights and the medicine you take to ease the pain of an ailment come to you from Nature’s warehouse of services. Natural ecosystems perform fundamental life-support services upon which human... More »
Predator-prey cycles Last Updated on 2014-07-08 14:53:04 Predator-prey cycles are characterized by regularly spaced increases and decreases in the population sizes or densities of a predator and its prey. Classically, the predator is a carnivorous species and the prey is an herbivorous species. However, carnivores that prey on other carnivores, herbivores feeding on plants, and even parasites attacking their host organisms are sometimes considered to have the same relationship, and so to be predator-prey systems. The predator population’s fluctuations follow those of the prey population through time. That is, the prey population begins to increase while the predator population is still decreasing and the prey population decreases while the predator population is still increasing. The classic (and simplest) explanation of these cycles is that the predator drives the changes in the prey population (by catching and killing its members) and... More »
Species richness Last Updated on 2014-07-02 14:24:39 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 »