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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Discuss the predator-prey cycle
  • Give examples of defenses against predation and herbivory
  • Describe the competitive exclusion principle
  • Give examples of symbiotic relationships between species
  • Describe community structure and succession

Populations rarely, if ever, live in isolation from populations of other species. In most cases, numerous species share a habitat. The interactions between these populations play a major role in regulating population growth and abundance. All populations occupying the same habitat form a community: populations inhabiting a specific area at the same time. The number of species occupying the same habitat and their relative abundance is known as species diversity. Areas with low diversity, such as the glaciers of Antarctica, still contain a wide variety of living things, whereas the diversity of tropical rainforests is so great that it cannot be counted. Ecology is studied at the community level to understand how species interact with each other and compete for the same resources.

Predation and herbivory

Perhaps the classical example of species interaction is predation: the hunting of prey by its predator. Nature shows on television highlight the drama of one living organism killing another. Populations of predators and prey in a community are not constant over time: in most cases, they vary in cycles that appear to be related. The most often cited example of predator-prey dynamics is seen in the cycling of the lynx (predator) and the snowshoe hare (prey), using nearly 200 year-old trapping data from North American forests ( [link] ). This cycle of predator and prey lasts approximately 10 years, with the predator population lagging 1–2 years behind that of the prey population. As the hare numbers increase, there is more food available for the lynx, allowing the lynx population to increase as well. When the lynx population grows to a threshold level, however, they kill so many hares that hare population begins to decline, followed by a decline in the lynx population because of scarcity of food. When the lynx population is low, the hare population size begins to increase due, at least in part, to low predation pressure, starting the cycle anew.

The graph plots number of animals in thousands versus time in years. The number of hares fluctuates between 10,000 at the low points, and 75,000 to 150,000 at the high points. There are typically fewer lynxes than hares, but the trend in number of lynxes follows the number of hares.
The cycling of lynx and snowshoe hare populations in Northern Ontario is an example of predator-prey dynamics.

The idea that the population cycling of the two species is entirely controlled by predation models has come under question. More recent studies have pointed to undefined density-dependent factors as being important in the cycling, in addition to predation. One possibility is that the cycling is inherent in the hare population due to density-dependent effects such as lower fecundity (maternal stress) caused by crowding when the hare population gets too dense. The hare cycling would then induce the cycling of the lynx because it is the lynxes’ major food source. The more we study communities, the more complexities we find, allowing ecologists to derive more accurate and sophisticated models of population dynamics.

Questions & Answers

write a short note on how the kidney carry out osmoregulation in man
Rhoda Reply
Kidney play a very large role in human osoregulation by regulating the amount of water reabsorbed from glomerular filtrate in kidney as tubules, which is controlled by hormones such as antrdiuvetic hormone (ADH) , aldosterone and angiotensin.
Evelyn
kidney is capable of osmoregulation in mammal ,
Judith
simple definition for respiratory system
Gift Reply
Respiratory system is a network of organs and tissues that helps you to breathe or help in getting the rids of oxygen and discharge of carbon dioxide in the body.
Ruhiyatu
how is a aerenchyma tissue adapted to its function
fatuma Reply
what does DNA mean
innocent Reply
dioxiribo nucleic acid
Lekan
what is a zygote
Victor Reply
zygote is developed or fertilized egg cell
Lekan
what is the difference between cell wall and cell membrane
Ruhiyatu Reply
cell wall is found in plant while cell membrane is found in animal cell
Lekan
please this is the main answer to that question okay Cell wall gives shape and support to the cell whiles Cell membrane support the movement of substances into and out of the cell. This question is very tricky that's why I asked.
Ruhiyatu
how cell I form
Elijah Reply
what difference between animal cell and plant cell
Lazarus Reply
what is animal call
Rita
Animal cell does not have a cell wall but plant cell have a cell wall
Ruhiyatu
plant have cell Wall well animal have not cell wall
Yula
what is fertilization?
Muhamed Reply
Fertilization is the fusion of male sex cell and female sex cell to form a zygote.
Ruhiyatu
What kind of nutrients is composed of plants
Annie Reply
phosphorus,potassium,nitrogen
Kritika
NPK
Ruhiyatu
what is hormones
Igwe Reply
hormon is the chemical messanger
Sneha
Genes can make someone dull?
Taperah
21ecological instrument and their diagrams
Ayomide Reply
cell biology
Muhamed
I am sorry
onuoha
for wat
ezeadaugo
no reason
KP
nothing but speculate
KP
Sorry without reason is nothing but speculate
Leilah
what are the kidney disease
Immaculate Reply
kidney stones
Gracelyne
it is a disease that affects the kidney
Miriam
what are some lung diseases
Gracelyne
kidney cancer
Victor
what is the other way of treating kidney failure
Mirriam
After having kidney transplant or dialysis
Evelyn
Kidney stone is a hard deposits of mineral and acid salt that stick together in concentrated urine and they are painful when passing through the urinary tract, but usually don't cause permanent damage
Evelyn
what is micro-organism
Jackson Reply
what is the hypothesis
Jackson
hypothesis is a proposed explanation for a phenomenon
Miriam
hypothesis is raw materials
KP
what is biology
KP
biology is the study of living things and their interaction with their environment
Miriam
what is zyogot?
Muhamed
what is fertilization?
Muhamed
zygote is an unfertilized eggs
KP
fertilization refers to the fusion of a sperm and ovum
KP
organs that can't be seen physically
Victor
what does mean stigma
Amira Reply
the stigma receives pollen grains during pollination
Ruhiyatu

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Source:  OpenStax, Biology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 29, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11448/1.10
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