Ecology Lecture 1

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Ecology: The study of the interrelationships between living organisms and their environment.

--> Biotic components: food, parasites, mates, offspring, competitors, predators.

--> Abiotic components: rocks, soil, water, sunshine, pollution.

Problem: the biological world is shaped by natural selection (i.e. evolution) operating at the individual (or gene) level.

It is the behaviour & reproduction (births, deaths, etc..) of individuals that combine to govern the compositions of groups of organisms.

Darwin’s theory of Evolution by Natural Selection 

1. There is variation among individuals

2. Some of this variation is heritable

3. There is selection (differential reproductive success) among variants 

This process leads to change (evolution) in the characteristics of individuals/species over time/generations: Organisms tend to become more suited (adapted) to their environments.

Now we know about genetics (pioneered by Mendel)

Gene = unit of inheritance

Selection can be viewed as operating at the level of the gene or at the level of the individual (since the individual expresses the genes). E.g. evolution of behavioural traits.

Niche and Niche Partitioning

An individual's niche is based on the physiological and behavioural…


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