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Chapter 7

Community Ecology
Chapter Overview Questions
 What determines the number of species in a
 How can we classify species according to
their roles in a community?
 How do species interact with one another?
 How do communities respond to changes in
environmental conditions?
 Does high species biodiversity increase the
stability and sustainability of a community?
Updates Online
The latest references for topics covered in this section can be found at
the book companion website. Log in to the book’s e-resources page at
www.thomsonedu.com to access InfoTrac articles.

 InfoTrac: California's wild crusade. Virginia Morell. National

Geographic, Feb 2006 v209 i2 p80(16).
 InfoTrac: Traveling green. Carol Goodstein. Natural History,
July-August 2006 v115 i6 p16(4) .
 InfoTrac: Too hot to trot. Charlie Furness. Geographical, May
2006 v78 i5 p51(7).
 The Nature Conservancy: Jaguar Habitat and Center of
Maya Civilization Protected in Historic Land Deal
 National Geographic News: Conservationists Name Nine
New "Biodiversity Hotspots"
Video: Whaling
 This video clip is available in CNN Today
Videos for Environmental Science, 2004,
Volume VII. Instructors, contact your local
sales representative to order this volume,
while supplies last.
Core Case Study:
Why Should We Care about the
American Alligator?
 Hunters wiped out
population to the
point of near
 Alligators have
important ecological

Figure 7-1
Core Case Study:
Why Should We Care about the
American Alligator?
 Dig deep depressions (gator holes).
 Hold water during dry spells, serve as refuges
for aquatic life.
 Build nesting mounds.
 provide nesting and feeding sites for birds.
 Keeps areas of open water free of vegetation.
 Alligators are a keystone species:
 Help maintain the structure and function of the
communities where it is found.

 Biological communities differ in their structure

and physical appearance.
Figure 7-2
Tropical Coniferous Deciduous Thorn Thorn Tall-grassShort-grass Desert
rain forest forest forest forest scrub prairie prairie scrub

Fig. 7-2, p. 144

Species Diversity and Niche
Structure: Different Species Playing
Different Roles
 Biological communities differ in the types and
numbers of species they contain and the
ecological roles those species play.
 Species diversity: the number of different
species it contains (species richness) combined
with the abundance of individuals within each of
those species (species evenness).
Species Diversity and Niche Structure
 Niche structure: how many potential
ecological niches occur, how they resemble
or differ, and how the species occupying
different niches interact.
 Geographic location: species diversity is
highest in the tropics and declines as we
move from the equator toward the poles.
 Native, nonnative, indicator, keystone, and
foundation species play different ecological
roles in communities.
 Native: those that normally live and thrive in a
particular community.
 Nonnative species: those that migrate,
deliberately or accidentally introduced into a
Case Study:
Species Diversity on Islands
 MacArthur and Wilson proposed the species
equilibrium model or theory of island
biogeography in the 1960’s.
 Model projects that at some point the rates of
immigration and extinction should reach an
equilibrium based on:

Island size
 Distance to nearest mainland
Indicator Species:
Biological Smoke Alarms

 Species that serve as early warnings of

damage to a community or an ecosystem.
 Presence or absence of trout species because
they are sensitive to temperature and oxygen
Keystone Species: Major Players

 Keystone species help determine the types

and numbers of other species in a
community thereby helping to sustain it.

Figures 7-4 and 7-5

Foundation Species:
Other Major Players

 Expansion of keystone species category.

 Foundation species can create and enhance
habitats that can benefit other species in a
 Elephants push over, break, or uproot trees,
creating forest openings promoting grass growth
for other species to utilize.
Case Study:
Why are Amphibians Vanishing?

 Frogs serve as indicator species because

different parts of their life cycles can be easily
disturbed. Figure 7-3
Adult frog
(3 years) Young frog

Sperm Tadpole develops

into frog

Reproduction Tadpole

Eggs Fertilized egg Egg hatches

development Organ formation

Fig. 7-3, p. 147

Case Study:
Why are Amphibians Vanishing?
 Habitat loss and fragmentation.
 Prolonged drought.
 Pollution.
 Increases in ultraviolet radiation.
 Parasites.
 Viral and Fungal diseases.
 Overhunting.
 Natural immigration or deliberate introduction
of nonnative predators and competitors.
Video: Frogs Galore


 From ABC News, Biology in the Headlines, 2005 DVD.

How Would You Vote?
To conduct an instant in-class survey using a classroom response
system, access “JoinIn Clicker Content” from the PowerLecture main
menu for Living in the Environment.

 Do we have an ethical obligation to protect shark

species from premature extinction and treat them
 a. No. It's impractical to force international laws on
individual fishermen that are simply trying to feed their
families with the fishing techniques that they have.

b. Yes. Sharks are an important part of marine
ecosystems. They must be protected and, like all animals,
they should be humanely treated.
 Species can interact through competition,
predation, parasitism, mutualism, and
 Some species evolve adaptations that
allow them to reduce or avoid competition
for resources with other species (resource
Resource Partitioning

 Each species minimizes

competition with the others
for food by spending at
least half its feeding time
in a distinct portion of the
spruce tree and by
consuming somewhat
different insect species.

Figure 7-7
Niche Specialization

 Niches become
separated to
avoid competition
for resources.

Figure 7-6
Number of individuals
Species 1 Species 2
niche overlap
Resource use
Number of individuals

Species 1 Species 2

Resource use Fig. 7-6, p. 150

 Species called predators feed on other
species called prey.
 Organisms use their senses their senses to
locate objects and prey and to attract
pollinators and mates.
 Some predators are fast enough to catch their
prey, some hide and lie in wait, and some
inject chemicals to paralyze their prey.

 Some prey escape

their predators or
have outer
protection, some
are camouflaged,
and some use
chemicals to repel

Figure 7-8
(a) Span worm Fig. 7-8a, p. 153
(b) Wandering leaf insect
Fig. 7-8b, p. 153
(c) Bombardier beetle
Fig. 7-8c, p. 153
(d) Foul-tasting monarch butterfly
Fig. 7-8d, p. 153
(e) Poison dart frog
Fig. 7-8e, p. 153
(f) Viceroy butterfly mimics
monarch butterfly Fig. 7-8f, p. 153
(g) Hind wings of Io moth
resemble eyes of a much
larger animal. Fig. 7-8g, p. 153
(h) When touched, snake
caterpillar changes shape
to look like head of snake.

Fig. 7-8h, p. 153

 Parasitism occurs when one species feeds
on part of another organism.
 In mutualism, two species interact in a way
that benefits both.
 Commensalism is an interaction that benefits
one species but has little, if any, effect on the
other species.
Parasites: Sponging Off of Others
 Although parasites can harm their hosts, they
can promote community biodiversity.
 Some parasites live in host (micororganisms,

Some parasites live outside host (fleas, ticks,
mistletoe plants, sea lampreys).
 Some have little contact with host (dump-nesting
birds like cowbirds, some duck species)
Mutualism: Win-Win Relationship

 Two species
can interact in
ways that
benefit both of

Figure 7-9
(a) Oxpeckers and black rhinoceros Fig. 7-9a, p. 154
(b) Clownfish and sea anemone Fig. 7-9b, p. 154
(c) Mycorrhizal fungi on juniper seedlings
in normal soil Fig. 7-9c, p. 154
(d) Lack of mycorrhizal fungi on juniper seedlings
in sterilized soil Fig. 7-9d, p. 154
Commensalism: Using without Harming

 Some species
interact in a way
that helps one
species but has
little or no effect
on the other.

Figure 7-10
 New environmental conditions allow one
group of species in a community to replace
other groups.
 Ecological succession: the gradual change
in species composition of a given area
 Primary succession: the gradual establishment
of biotic communities in lifeless areas where
there is no soil or sediment.
 Secondary succession: series of communities
develop in places containing soil or sediment.
Primary Succession:
Starting from Scratch
 Primary
begins with an
lifeless are
where there is
no soil in a
Figure 7-11
and mosses
Balsam hf , and
Jack pinec, e,paperite spruce
ma t black sprpuen wh forest
Small herbs Heath and as i ty
and shrubs commun


Fig. 7-11, p. 156

Secondary Succession:
Starting Over with Some Help
 Secondary
begins in an
area where
the natural
has been

Figure 7-12
k ory forest
tur e oak-hic
n e forest Ma
n g p i
d e v e loping
Shrubs wi th ak
Perenn d r s t ory of o
l an and pine un d e
y trees
Annua weeds seedlings and h i c ko r
weeds grasse

Fig. 7-12, p. 157

Can We Predict the Path of
Succession, and is Nature in
 The course of succession cannot be
precisely predicted.
 Previously thought that a stable climax
community will always be achieved.
 Succession involves species competing for
enough light, nutrients and space which will
influence it’s trajectory.
 Living systems maintain some degree of
stability through constant change in response
to environmental conditions through:
 Inertia (persistence): the ability of a living system
to resist being disturbed or altered.
 Constancy: the ability of a living system to keep
its numbers within the limits imposed by available
 Resilience: the ability of a living system to
bounce back and repair damage after (a not too
drastic) disturbance.
 Having many different species appears to
increase the sustainability of many
 Human activities are disrupting ecosystem
services that support and sustain all life and
all economies.