Introduction to Community Ecology

Discuss the scope and study of community ecology

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.

What You’ll Learn to Do

  • Discuss the importance of predation and herbivory in the ecosystem, including how organisms defend against these
  • Define the competitive exclusion principle
  • Compare and contrast the three different types of symbiotic relationships
  • Identify different species roles that structure communities
  • Describe community dynamics as the changes in community structure that take place over time
  • Define behavioral biology
  • Identify different types of innate behaviors in animals
  • Identify different types of learned behaviors in animals

Learning Activities

The learning activities for this section include the following:

  • Predation and Herbivory
  • Competition
  • Symbiosis
  • Community Structure and Dynamics
  • Innate Behaviors
  • Learned Behaviors
  • Self Check: Community Ecology


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