Lecture 20: Population and Community Ecology. I. Background

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1 Lecture 20: Population and Community Ecology I. Background A. Biological processes affecting populations 1. Population ecology is the study of populations in relation to environment a. Environment influences population density, distribution and size 2. Definition of population a. A group of individuals of a single species living in the same general area B. Density and Dispersion 1. Density - number of individuals per unit area or volume 2. Dispersion- pattern of spacing among individuals within boundaries of the population C. Density 1. Usually impractical / impossible to count all individuals in a population a. Need to employ sampling techniques to estimate densities and total population sizes 2. Techniques a. Extrapolation from small samples b. Index of population size c. Mark-recapture method 3. Factors affecting density a. Processes that add individuals to a population & remove individuals b. Immigration i. Influx of new individuals from other areas c. Emigration i. Movement of individuals out of a population 4. Environmental and social factors influence spacing of individuals in a population a. Clumped dispersion i. Individuals aggregate in patches ii. Clumped dispersion influenced by resource availability and behavior b. Uniform dispersion i. Individuals are evenly distributed ii. Influenced by social interactions such as territoriality c. Random dispersion i. Position of each individual is independent of other individuals ii. Occurs in absence of strong attractions or repulsions D. Demographics 1. The study of the vital statistics of a population and how they change over time a. Death and birth rates

2 Number of survivors (log scale) 2. Life table a. Age-specific summary of the survival pattern of a population b. Follow cohort of the same aged individuals Table 53.1a E. Survivorship curve 1. Graphical representation of a life table Figure , Males Females Age (years)

3 Number of survivors (log scale) 2. Classification a. Type I: low death rates during early and middle life, then an increase among older age groups b. Type II: the death rate is constant over the organism s life span c. Type III: high death rates for the young, then a slower death rate for survivors Figure ,000 I 100 II III 50 Percentage of maximum life span 100

4 F. Reproductive rates 1. Focus on females when a population reproduces sexually 2. Reproductive table a. Age-specific summary of the reproductive rates in a population b. Describes reproductive patern Table 53.2 II. Life history traits A. Traits that affect its schedule of reproduction and survival 1. Age when reproduction begins 2. Frequency of reproduction 3. Number of offspring during each reproductive cycle 4. Life history traits are evolutionary outcomes reflected in the development, physiology, and behavior of an organism B. Types of life histories 1. Semelparity (big-bang reproduction) organisms reproduce once and die a. Favored when environment is unpredictable 2. Iteroparity, or (repeated reproduction) organisms produce offspring repeatedly b. Favored when environment is consistent C. Limited resources lead to trade-offs between survival and reproduction 1. Plant strategies a. Large number of small seeds i. Some will grow and reproduce b. Small number of large seeds i. Large store of energy that will help seedlings become established 2. In animals, parental care of smaller broods help survival of offspring

5 Population size (N) III. Exponential population growth model A. Exponential growth only occurs in an idealized, unlimited environment 1. Useful to study population growth in an idealized situation 2. Idealized situations help us understand the capacity of species to increase and the conditions that may facilitate this growth Figure ,000 1,500 1,000 dn = 1.0N dn = 0.5N Number of generations B. Exponential growth 1. Exponential population growth is population increase under idealized conditions 2. Under these conditions, the rate of reproduction is at its maximum, called the intrinsic rate of increase 3. Mathematical representation: dn = r max N 4. Exponential population growth results in a J-shaped curve IV. Logistic model A. Logistical model describes how a population grows more slowly as it nears its carrying capacity 1. Exponential growth cannot be sustained in nature 2. A more accurate model includes a carrying capacity a. Carrying capacity (K) is the maximum population size the environment can support

6 B. Logistic growth model 1. In the logistic population growth model, the per capita rate of increase declines as carrying capacity is reached 2. Model starts with exponential model and adds an expression that reduces per capita rate of increase as N approaches K dn = r max N (K-N) K 3. Generates a sigmoid (S-shaped) curve Fig ,000 Population size (N) 1,500 K = 1,500 Exponential growth dn = 1.0N 1,000 Logistic growth dn = 1.0N 1,500 N 1, Number of generations C. Logistic model and life histories 1. Life history traits favored by natural selection may vary with population density and environmental conditions 2. K-selection, or density-dependent selection, selects for life history traits that are sensitive to population density 3. r-selection, or density-independent selection, selects for life history traits that maximize reproduction

7 V. Factors regulating population growth A. Density dependent factors 1. Environmental factors prevent exponential growth 2. Factors differentially affecting populations a. Radical fluctuations b. Relative stability B. Population change and population density 1. In density-independent (r) populations, birth rate & death rate do not change with population density 2. In density-dependent (K) populations, birth rates fall and death rates rise with population density a. Negative feedback that regulates population growth b. Multiple factors i. Competition for resources ii. Disease iii. Territoriality iv. Predation v. Intrinsic factors 3. Competition for recourses a. In crowded populations, increasing population density intensifies competition for resources i. Results in a lower birth rate 4. Territoriality a. In many vertebrates and some invertebrates, competition for territory may limit density b. Cheetahs are highly territorial, using chemical communication to warn other cheetahs of their boundaries 5. Disease a. Population density can influence the health and survival of organisms b. In dense populations, pathogens can spread more rapidly 6. Predation a. As a prey population builds up, predators may feed preferentially on that species 7. Intrinsic factors a. For some populations, intrinsic (physiological) factors appear to regulate population size 8. Population dynamics a. Complex interactions between biotic and abiotic factors that cause variation in population size 9. Stability and fluctuation a. Long-term population studies have challenged the hypothesis that populations of large mammals are relatively stable over time b. Weather can affect population size over time c. Changes in predation pressure can drive population fluctuations C. Immigration, emigration, and metapopulations 1. Metapopulations are groups of populations linked by immigration and emigration 2. High levels of immigration combined with higher survival can result in greater stability in populations

8 Human population (billions) VI. Human population growth A. Global human population Figure The Plague CE 2000 CE 0 1. Human population increased relatively slowly until about 1650 and then began to grow exponentially 2. Global population is still growing, the rate of growth began to slow during the 1960s B. Regional patterns of population change 1. To maintain population stability, a regional human population can exist in one of two configurations: a. Zero population growth = High birth rate High death rate b. Zero population growth = Low birth rate Low death rate 2. Demographic transition is the move from the first state toward the second state a. Associated with increase in quality of health care and access to education i. Greatest effect if for women 3. Most of the current global population growth is concentrated in developing countries

9 C. Age structure 1. Age structure is the relative number of individuals at each age 2. Age structure diagrams can predict a population s growth trends Figure Rapid growth Afghanistan Slow growth United States No growth Italy Male Female Age Male Female Age Male Female Percent of population Percent of population Percent of population E. Global carrying capacity 1. The number of humans that the biosphere can support a. The carrying capacity of Earth for humans is uncertain b. Average estimate is billion 2. Limits a. Ecological footprint concept summarizes the aggregate land and water area needed to sustain the people of a nation b. Measures how close we are to the carrying capacity of Earth c. Countries vary greatly in footprint size and available ecological capacity d. Carrying capacity could potentially be limited by food, space, nonrenewable resources, or buildup of wastes

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