Animal Behavior: Habitat selection sudeshrathod

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Habitat is a fundamental niche which refers to the multidimensional space with proximate factors. Habitat provides shelter, food, protection, mates, space for breeding, feeding, resting, roosting, courtship, grooming, sleeping etc.

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Animal Behavior: Habitat selection sudeshrathod

  1. 1. T Y B Sc. Zoology Notes: Paper IV –Animal BEhaviorTo live in a habitat an animal must first have access to the habitat. Once the animal has access to thehabitat it must be able to tolerate the conditions of the habitat and find the resources that it needs tosurvive in that habitat. Animals must be able to tolerate at least two kinds of factors in the habitat.These factors are abiotic factors and biotic factors. Abiotic factors are non-biological factors such astemperature, humidity, salinity and pH to name a few. Biotic factors are biological factors such ascompetition, predation, and disease. If both abiotic and biotic factors can be tolerated the animal mustalso be able to find the resources that it needs to survive. Habitat is a fundamental niche which refers tothe multidimensional space with proximate factors. Habitat provides shelter, food, protection, mates,space for breeding, feeding, resting, roosting, courtship, grooming, sleeping etc. Birds are nearly idealsubjects for studies of habitat selection, because they are highly mobile, often migrating thousands ofmiles (and in the process passing over an enormous range of environments), and yet ordinarily forage,breed, and winter in very specific habitats. The small migrant songbirds are well known for habitatchoices -- where to feed, where to seek a mate, where to build a nest, where to stop to replenishdepleted stores of fat when migrating, and so on. Choices can be so finely tuned that often the twosexes of a species use habitats differently. In grassland, male Henslows Sparrows forage farther fromthe nest than females; in woodlands, female Red-eyed Vireos seek their food closer to the height oftheir nest (10-30 feet), and males forage closer to the height of their song perches (20-60 feet).Animals live in competitive world. Two species or more occur in a single habitat, in which they strive forsurvival, shelter, food; space etc. there may be considerable competition, predation, diseases,allelopathic agents (antibiosis/ poisoning) in the existing habitat.Every available space cannot play a role of habitat for all species at a time due to certain antagonisticfactors. Therefore the animals select the habitat which fulfils its niche and keeps it away from otherantagonistic factors. I. Effect of different factors on habitat selection: Factors like behavior of organisms, physicochemical factors, genetics, phylogeny etc. are responsible for the habitat selection. a. Behavior of organisms- Different behavioral pattern of organisms make them to select a definite habitat. A species finalizes the suitable habitat after vigorous interaction amongst other organisms.By Prof. S D RathodDept. of ZoologyB N Bandodkar College of Science, Thane, India
  2. 2. T Y B Sc. Zoology Notes: Paper IV –Animal BEhavior i. Prey species: The predators are confined to the habitat where their prey population is available in abundance. E.g. predatory birds are seen near the insect population. Kingfisher prefers the habitat near ponds or lakes where fishes are abundant. ii. Competitors: Many species having similar niche are competitors. They avoid the competition by sharing the habitat e.g. tree pipit prefers the dense trees whereas meadow pipit lives in the bushes of grassy areas. iii. Allelopathic agents: Certain organisms repel others by secreting harmful or unpleasant chemicals to occupy the area. The intolerant species more other places and select other habitats. E.g. Noctiluca sp. Secret toxic chemicals hence other zooplankton are not found in this area. Fungi secret antibiotic keeping other micro- organisms away from the habitat. iv. Predators: Excessive pressure of predation may make prey species to move to other comparatively more safe habitats. Or the prey species is eradicated due to the high predation pressure from the areas and flourish in the other less sever habitat. b. Physical and chemical factors- Organisms are very sensitive to the physic-chemical factors, predominantly the temperature and moisture. The factors like temperature, moisture, light, pH, humidity, soil texture, fire, oxygen, soil fertility, salts etc. will decide the species to be living in a habitat. The compatible species to the existing factors will survive in a habitat. Animals selectBy Prof. S D RathodDept. of ZoologyB N Bandodkar College of Science, Thane, India
  3. 3. T Y B Sc. Zoology Notes: Paper IV –Animal BEhavior the habitat of their physiological tolerance e.g. woodland deer mice select forest rather than crop fields, because they cannot tolerate the high temperature in the field. Within the forest they may prefer to live in large trees like oak or beech where they get more food as acorns and beechnuts in addition to better shelter and more nest sites. Phytoplankton flourish at surface near shore of the oceans where the ample sunlight for photosynthesis and nutrients for their growth occur. c. Genetic relationship- Living beings have evolved with the available environment, thus have phylogenetic relationship. Sometimes the different species although having capacity to live in variety of habitats they are typically confined to one of those. E.g. coal tits select only pine trees where as blue tits select oak trees. d. Early experience- Organisms having experience in different habitats, select the one out of many which is best secured for their survival. This knowledge they gain from experience. e. Microhabitats- Some small organisms like flies, ants, termites, aphids have to select certain microhabitat which provides them the life commodities. E.g. Drosophila selects habitat of high humidity. Aphids select broad leaves on cotton wood tree where their reproductive success is high. O’Neil (1967) found seven spp. of millipedes in a maple forest. All were detritivores and living in same habitat. But detailed research revealed that each species dominated in its own specific microhabitat, which was different from the others. The microhabitat of each species was comprised of a particular gradient of detritus which they preferred as compared to other species.By Prof. S D RathodDept. of ZoologyB N Bandodkar College of Science, Thane, India
  4. 4. T Y B Sc. Zoology Notes: Paper IV –Animal BEhavior II. Model example: No two species living in the same general habitat can occupy identically the same ecological niche. Other example is dependent on the tradition of their behavior. Three similar species of ungulates live in different habitats in a forest. ‘Sambar’ (dancing deer) prefers the hilly terrain and ‘chital’ (spotted deer) prefers the dense forest with large trees whereas the ‘Kalwit’ (blackbuck) selects the open savanna in Indian forest. Dancing Deer (Sambar) Spotted Deer (Chital)By Prof. S D RathodDept. of ZoologyB N Bandodkar College of Science, Thane, India

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