Community ecology, biodiversity and conservation


Job of ecologists is to reduce complexity so we can understand and decribe interactions more easily and notice when changes occur.

The interactions between all the species in a community= FOOD WEB

This can be made up of many food chains.

Food webs are highly complex systems e.g. Ythan esturay, Scotland- despite being in the North of Scotlnd- 92 species, 440 feeding links, 5500 food chains. 

On the other hand- coral reef just fish: 500-1000 species

Difficult to comprehend and understand.

How do we determine the linkages?

  • Observations (visual and photographic) -easier in some habitats e.g African Savannah, may not be so easy in oceanic ecosystems or with nocturnal species. -Getting easier with camera traps and remote cameras- triggered by movement; slow motion cameras etc.
  • Stomach content analysis - downside is the animal is killed- useful to use on already deceased individuals e.g. to investigate plastic in stomaches. Some individuals vomit up what they have just eaten when caught. Feeding tube- reach down throat and bring up stomach contents.
  • **** analysis- different species have different ear bones- otoliths- can work out which species is eaten. 
  • Stable isotope analysis (particularly N) the closer to the bottom of the food chain- the higher the quantity of some N isotopes you will find. 

Classify organisms into different levels. 

e.g. Biomass


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