Understanding Patchiness and Scale?

 Patchiness and scale refers to the distribution of species in a given environment and the ecological patterns and processes that occur at different spatial and temporal scales.  The three main spatial elements of patchiness (see Figure 1) are the patch (the specific habitat), the matrix (the background, underlying ecosystem) and the corridors (the connectors between … Continue reading Understanding Patchiness and Scale?

What are Keystone Species?

  A keystone species is essential to an ecosystem or food web. If you remove it, like the keystone in an arch, the whole ecosystem collapses.  Keystones can be identified by removing certain species from a food web and observing the effects this has on the ecosystem, as seen in Robert Paine’s studies in which … Continue reading What are Keystone Species?

An Introduction to Biodiversity

 Biodiversity can be defined as the variation of life at all levels of biological organisation, from genes to species to ecosystems.  Within biodiversity, there are three main categorisations: genetic, organismal and ecological. First of all, genetic diversity refers to variations in the genetic coding that determines an individual's characteristics within and between species -with such … Continue reading An Introduction to Biodiversity

What are Symbiotic Relationships?

 There are 3 types of symbiotic relationships in ecology - commensalism, mutualism and neutral.  Commensalism describes an interaction where the abundance of one species in the relationship increases as a result of the interaction whilst the other is unaffected. This can be described as a ‘+ 0’ interaction.  A mutualistic relationship between two species is … Continue reading What are Symbiotic Relationships?

What is the Optimal Diet Model?

 When choosing prey, a predator will first consider the abundance or search time, of more profitable prey items compared to less profitable.  When prey abundance is low predators will become generalists in their foraging strategy, consuming more and less profitable prey. However, when more profitable prey is more abundant, predators will become specialists - consuming … Continue reading What is the Optimal Diet Model?