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Population and Evolutionary Ecology

Population and evolutionary ecology is focused on studying the processes and interactions which exist between species within an environment, which have been shaped by evolutionary forces. Populations are a collection of individuals and are considered to be the units of evolution. The patterns and variation which exist within these populations are a result of evolution by natural selection.

Evolutionary processes occur over generations, not within an individual’s lifetime and this makes collecting data over multiple generations critical. Consequently, ecological research often involves gathering and studying long-term data sets. This allows for interpretations to be made about the patterns and trends which exist within various populations and helps to describe why organisms have developed the traits which they possess.

The growth and structure of populations are influenced by factors such as natural selection, environmental variation, population dynamics and the environment itself, whether it is an aquatic or terrestrial environment. Additionally, species interactions such as competition, predation, herbivory and mutualism are essential to a population’s functioning and have developed through evolution. Through evolution prey species have acquired abilities such as mimicry to deceive predators and predators have evolved methods of overcoming this deception.

Population and evolutionary ecology tries to comprehend the composition and diversity of populations, along with the growth, reproductive and other life strategies species within these populations have developed. Through the implementation of population and evolutionary based studies, the ecological mechanisms which organisms have adopted to maximize functioning and survival within their environments can be analyzed. 

Categories within Population and Evolutionary Ecology

Natural Selection

Postings: 20

Natural selection refers to the varying frequency of genes in a population because of the differential success in reproduction and survival of different genotypes.

Environmental Variation

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Environmental variation is inherent in all populations and is the variation which is caused not from genetic factors, but rather environmental influences such as climate.

Population Dynamics

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Population dynamics is an important concept in ecology and refers to the ways in which a population’s composition changes overtime, both in the short-term and the long-term.


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Predation is a specific interaction between organisms in which the outcome is positive for one species and negative for the other.


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Herbivory is an exploitative interaction between two individuals which produces a positive response for one individual and negatively impacts the other.


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Mutualism is a type of interaction between two different species in which the impact is positive for both individuals.

Global Warming Effects on the Ecosystem

1. Explain why the issue of Global warming effects on the ecosystem is a good topic to study. 2. Explain why this issue is important. 3. Identify sources of information that can be useful to oppose information on this issue. 4. What would be a good title name that will present this topic? 5. List three references that wi

Coral Reef Relationships

One of the most important resources on a coral reef is space. Can you discuss the interspecific and intraspecific relationships that have resulted from this competition for living space? Can you include information about competition and about mutualism?

Species Defenses Against Predation

Describe two plant defenses against predation. Give a specific example of each. What determines why some frogs are boldly colorful and others blend into their environment? Name two other animals that are boldly colored and why.

Competition in Ecosystems

Until the 1930's, the dominant mammal in Louisiana marsh was the muskrat. A hurricane on Avery Island broke open several cages of nutria (a large rodent from South America), releasing them into the marsh. Now nutria have displaced the muskrat. What type of competition is this? Why are introduced species better competitors th

Population Growth Through Community Interactions

Explain the dynamics of population growth on the environment. Explain the concept of regulation of population growth through community interactions. Evaluate the effects of human activities on ecosystem and the biosphere.

Disucssion on Interspecific Competition

Question: Name another type of interspecific competition besides exploitative and interference competition. Describe an example of this type of interspecific competition.

The Relationship Between Organisms

Choose four of the following pairs of organisms. For each, indicate whether the typical relationship between them is mutualism, commensalisms, or amensalism and then describe the relationship in sufficient detail to justify your answer: - epiphyte plants and trees - plants and micorrhizal fungi - barnacles and whales - flowe

Ecology: Species Interactions and Niches

Differentiate between: 1. Vulnerable and Non-vulnerable species 2. Functional and numerical responses of predators to chnage in prey density 3. Batesian and Müllerian mimicry 4. Microparasites and Macroparasites 5. Facultative mutualism and Obligatory mutualism 6. Fundamental and realized niche. See the attached file.

Important information about Ecology

14. A. In developing the formulas for population growth I made specific assumptions about birth rates and death rates. On the graph below draw the line that relates birth rate to population size if the environment were perfect and thus the population is growing at its biotic potential. Also, draw the line that relates birth rate

Actual Growth Rate, Closest Biotic Potential.

See attached file for full problem description. 1. At which point is the actual growth rate of the population greatest? 2. At which point is the actual growth rate negative? 3. At which point is the logistically growing population growing at a rate that is closest to the biotic potential for a population of that size?

Supporting Life on Another Planet

As a future biologist, you like to follow news events within many areas of the scientific community. In August 2003, NASA ( the National Aeronautics and Space Administration ) launched its Space Infrared Telescope Facility to study (among other things) the birth of galaxies. This has made you thi

Life on Earth: Interdependence

All living organisms are dependent upon another at some point during their life cycle. Some of these dependencies are essential to the survival of an organism. Such an intimate dependency is described as a symbiotic relationship. Can you please describe a symbiotic relationship. Can you please also include the organisms inv

An Assessment of Microevolutionary Forces on Grass Species

A study of a single grass species at an abondened copper mine, where some patches of soil were contaminated with heavy metals, and some patches were uncontaminated, showed the following: a) All the grass growing on soil contaminated with heavy metals was tolerant of the heavy metals b) Grass from uncontaminated sites, just f

Building an Aquatic Ecosystem

A 1st grade class was planning to build a simple ecosystem in a jar, and add water, algae, and small aquatic animals that eat algae and then weigh their algae and the animals at the end of the year. If they were to compare the total weight of all the algae and the combined weight of all the animals, which will weigh more? Explai