Ecology

Published September 2017 3 lectures More in production
Prof. David J. Gibson
Southern Illinois University, USA
Summary

Ecology is the scientific study of organisms and their interactions with each other and their physical surroundings. As such ecology is distinct from environmental science which is more focused on seeking solutions to environmental problems. Ecology informs environmental science. Broadly speaking, the main areas of ecology are species adaptations, population... read moreecology, community ecology, ecosystem ecology, landscape ecology, and macroecology, and these form the section headings for this collection of talks. Species adaptations refer to the behaviors, characteristics or traits of organisms that allows them to survive in the environment. Population ecology is the study of the demographics and dynamics of individual species. Community ecology deals with the interactions of all of the species within a certain geographic area of interest. Ecosystem ecology studies the biotic and abiotic components of the environment. Landscape ecology is the study of ecological processes in ecosystems at various spatial scales in a region of interest. Macroecology studies large-scale patterns of diversity, especially in relation to the dynamics of global environmental patterns. All of these areas of ecology overlap and together provide an understanding of life on earth which informs practitioners, managers, and humanity in general about both basic and applied issues of concern. As with other areas of the life sciences, evolutionary concepts underpin ecology.

Ecology is thus a broad field. For example, the Oxford Bibliography Online series (www.oxfordbibliographies.com) has over 150 different articles published in their Ecology series, which is still adding new entries. For this introductory set of talks, 12 titles are planned which provide a representative ‘taste’ of the subject as a whole under the general headings of species adaptations, population ecology, community ecology, ecosystem ecology, landscape ecology, and macroecology. Future expansion of the series could include the topics of Invasion Ecology, Urban Ecology, Applied Ecology, and Novel Ecological Methods.

Topics to be covered:
Foraging and the ecology of animal decision-making - Plant-animal co-evolutionary adaptations to herbivory and predation - Using population growth models for conservation - Darwin’s legacy: evolutionary interactions and metapopulations - Why the world is green: top-down and bottom-up controls - Cooperation or competition: species interactions across environmental gradients - Above- and below-ground feedbacks - Valuation of biodiversity and ecosystem services - The Yellowstone fires: pattern and process across landscapes - Novel ecosystems: The Anthropocene biomes and species dispersal under climate change - Mammals and macroecology - Big data ecology: make sense of lots of numbers