Understanding the distribution and abundance of living things in the physical environment is a core goal of ecology.
Integration of scientific disciplines inside and outside of biology is required to reach this goal.
Climate change can affect the health of humans.
PBS researchers discovered a disease living far outside of its normal range.
It is helpful to subdivide a discipline such as biology into smaller areas.
Cell biologists interested in cell signaling need to understand the chemistry of the signal molecule and the result of cell signaling.
Ecologists interested in the factors that influence the survival of a species might use mathematical models.
To produce a sound set of management options, a conserver needs to collect accurate data, including current population size, factors affecting reproduction, habitat requirements, and potential human influences on the population and its habitat.
There are four general levels within the discipline of ecology.
Figure 44.2 shows the levels of organisms, population, and community.
Ecologists study several levels of organization.
The adaptations that allow individuals to live in specific habitats are studied by researchers.
The adaptation can be a lot of different things.
The Karner blue butterfly is considered a specialist because the females only lay eggs on wild lupine.
The Karner blue butterfly is dependent on the presence of wild lupine plants for its survival.
The Karner blue butterfly is only found in open areas with few trees or shrubs, such as pine barrens and oak savannas.
It can only lay its eggs on plants.
After hatching, the first instar caterpillar spend four to six weeks feeding on wild lupine.
After about four weeks, the pupate becomes a chrysalis and emerges as butterflies.
The butterflies eat the flowers of wild lupine and milkweed.
Each year there are two broods of the Karner blue.
A researcher interested in studying Karner blue butterflies at the organismal level might ask questions about the butterflies' preferred flight temperature and behavior when they are at different stages of development.
The Karner blue butterfly is only found in the wild lupine.
Natural or artificial boundaries may be established for a population by where it lives.
Natural boundaries can be rivers, mountains, or deserts, while artificial boundaries can be mowed grass.
Population ecology focuses on the number of individuals in an area and how they change over time.
Population ecologists are interested in counting the Karner blue butterfly because it is a federally threatened species.
The distribution and density of this species is influenced by the environment around it.
The decline of wild lupine and how it affects Karner blue butterflies might be asked of researchers.
Ecologicalists know that wild lupine thrives in areas where trees and shrubs are not present.
In natural settings, fires help to maintain the open areas of wild lupine by removing trees and shrubs.
The decline of the Karner blue butterfly can be understood by using mathematical models.
Community ecologists are interested in the processes that drive interactions.
Competition among members of the same species is often the focus of questions about conspecific interactions.
Heterospecific interactions include competition and pollination.
Population sizes can be affected by these interactions.
The Karner blue butterfly has mutualistic relationships with ants.
Each species must benefit from the other in order for mutualism to exist.
The advantage for the larvae may be due to the fact that they spend less time in each life stage when tended by ants.
The Karner blue butterfly has an ant-like substance that is an important energy source for the ants.
Air, water, and soil are some of the abiotic components.
Biologists ask questions about how energy is stored and how it moves among organisms and through the environment.
This habitat is characterized by disturbed soils and low nitrogen levels.
The distribution of plants in this habitat is dependent on the availability of vitamins and minerals.
Questions about the importance of limited resources and the movement of resources could be asked of researchers interested in ecology.
Society can meet the basic human needs of food, shelter, and health care by understanding ecological issues.
Ecologists can conduct their research in the lab and outdoors.
The natural environments can be as close to home as the stream running through your campus or as far away as the hydrothermal vents at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.
Ecologists teach at universities, high schools, museums, and nature centers.
Ecologists can work in advisory positions assisting policymakers to develop laws that are ecological.
An undergrad degree in a natural science is required to become an ecologist.
Depending on the area of ecology selected, the undergraduate degree is followed by specialized training or an advanced degree.
Ecologists should have a background in the physical sciences, as well as a solid foundation in mathematics and statistics.
A black-footed ferret is being released into its native habitat by a landscape ecologist.