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Ecology and Biodiversity

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John Herron, The Nature Conservancy Texas, discusses basic ecology and biodiversity to the 2013 Master Naturalist, Hill Country Chapter training class.

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Ecology and Biodiversity

  1. 1. (paste over photo with an appropriate image) Basic Ecology John Herron The Nature Conservancy – Texas Chapter
  2. 2. Biodiversity and The Nature Conservancy The mission of The Nature Conservancy is to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends.
  3. 3. TNC 5 Major Habitats
  4. 4. TNC Conservation Tools Land acquisition Conservation easements Demonstration projects Prescribed fire Habitat restoration Species surveys
  5. 5. Ecology - defined The study of Nature that deals with interrelationships, or the dependence of all living things on all other living things and their surroundings. The study of the relationships of organisms to their environment and to one another. (Brewer 1994) The word ecology derives from the Greek words oikos, which means “house,” and logos, which means “discussion or study.”
  6. 6. Ecology The study of living systems – Aquatic ecology – Forest ecology – Field ecology – Experimental ecology – Population ecology – Community ecology – Behavorial ecology
  7. 7. „Ecology‟ Encompasses… Physical environment Organisms – species, populations, communities, ecosystems Inter-relationships – Predator-prey; consumers – Competition Nature is dynamic – Change, flows, cycles, adaptation, selection, evolution. – Balance
  8. 8. Understand the 7 Principles of Ecology 1. The plan or producer, the grazing animal or consumer and the intrinsic value of a healthy ecosystem needs to be looked at together, not separately. 2. The natural resource manager should understand the change and know it has an influence on all of his management decisions. 3. For every action on the land there are multiple reactions. 4. Nature abhors a void and provides plants through the process of primary and secondary succession to fill the openess. 5. Humans have found that nature knows best. Organisms which are suited and adapted to change occupy the site. 6. Everything must go somewhere. 7. There is no such thing as a free lunch.
  9. 9. Seven Principles of Landscape Ecology • • • • • • • • Landscape Structure and Function Biotic Diversity Species Flow Nutrient Redistribution Energy Flow Landscape Change Landscape Stability Biotic Diversity Sandor, M. 2004. http://quizlet.com/2659795/7-principles-in-landscape-ecology-flash-cards/
  10. 10. Laws of Ecology • All things are interconnected • Everything goes somewhere • There‟s no such thing as a free lunch • Nature bats last Callenbach, E. 2008. Ecology: A pocket guide.
  11. 11. Environment = Physical Factors • Sun – Weather/Climate • Water • Minerals/Soils – Wind – Currents – Temperature/Heat • Moon - Tides = „Abiotic‟
  12. 12. Scale – Levels of organization in Ecology • Populations • Communities • Ecosystems • Biosphere
  13. 13. Individual - A single member of a species
  14. 14. Natural Selection • • • • • • Evolution – species change over time Natural selections works at the individual level Individuals vary Individuals with desirable traits survive better If those traits are inheritable, they are passed on to descendents As a result, those populations changes
  15. 15. Population - A group of organisms of the same species occupying a particular space at a particular time
  16. 16. Population Dynamics Population growth – – – – Immigration Emigration Mortality Reproduction Growth rate Density Carrying capacity Dispersion and Movement
  17. 17. CARRYING CAPACITY - The maximum number of individuals of a given species that a habitat can sustain indefinitely.
  18. 18. Candy Island 70 60 50 40 Exp 25% 50% 30 20 10 0 1 2 3 4
  19. 19. Candy Island 70 60 50 40 Exp 25% 50% 30 20 10 0 1 2 3 4
  20. 20. Population Growth Exponential vs. Logistic growth Carrying Capacity (K)
  21. 21. Communities Populations of different species occupying a certain area (i.e. plants, birds, fish, insects, etc.)
  22. 22. Communities • • • • • Structure Composition Energy Flow Production Nutrient Cycles
  23. 23. Community Structure
  24. 24. Producers (Autotrophs) Capable of producing their own food… primarily via photosynthesis
  25. 25. Herbivores (Primary Consumers) Obtain energy by feeding on vegetation
  26. 26. Primary Carnivores (Secondary Consumers) Obtain energy by feeding on herbivores
  27. 27. Detritivores (Decomposers) Obtain energy from dead plants and animals
  28. 28. Food Chain Red Shouldered Hawk Coachwhip Whiptail Toad Praying Mantis Field Mouse Cricket Plants Mockingbird Scorpion Grasshopper
  29. 29. Food Web Red Shouldered Hawk Coachwhip Whiptail Toad Praying Mantis Field Mouse Cricket Plants Mockingbird Scorpion Grasshopper
  30. 30. Elements of a food web on a native grassland. Sun Red-tailed hawk Wolf Fox Jackrabbit Bison Prairie chicken Grasshopper Mouse Grass Decomposers
  31. 31. Pyramid of Numbers C2=1 C1 90,000 H 200,000 P 1,500,000 Grassland (Summer) (Individuals per 0.1 hectare) General pattern in nature: there are many more plants than herbivores, greater numbers of herbivores than carnivores, seldom more than a few top carnivores.
  32. 32. Hydrologic Cycle
  33. 33. Carbon Cycle
  34. 34. Nitrogen Cycle
  35. 35. Other Ecological Concepts • Variation • Habitat • Adaptation – Niche • Production • Succession
  36. 36. Ecological Succession Gradual progression of plants that colonize a site over time.
  37. 37. Succession
  38. 38. The relationship between prairie-to-forest succession and grouse species. Ruffed grouse Sharp-tailed grouse Prairie chicken Spruce grouse
  39. 39. Ecosystems • An ecosystem consists of organisms from many different species living together in a region that are connected by the flow of energy, nutrients, and matter that occurs as the organisms of different species interact with one another. • (Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 2002) • Is a self-sustaining system involving the interaction of living and nonliving elements in a manner which sustains life.
  40. 40. Local Ecosystems Woodland Grassland Riparian Wetland Aquatic
  41. 41. Landscapes Interacting ecosystems across a relatively small geographic scale
  42. 42. Ecosystem management "…game can be restored by the creative use of the same tools which have heretofore destroyed it - ax, plow, cow, fire, and gun." Aldo Leopold, Game Management, 1933.
  43. 43. Ecological Restoration - Restore natural processes - Prescribed burning Selective mowing Managed grazing Seasonal water flows
  44. 44. Prescribed burning
  45. 45. When we contemplate the whole globe as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with continents and islands, flying through space with all other stars all singing and shining together as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty. John Muir (1838-1914) Founder, Sierra Club
  46. 46. Biodiversity John Herron The Nature Conservancy Austin, TX
  47. 47. Biological Diversity The variety of life forms: the different plants, animals and microorganisms, the genes they contain, and the ecosystems they form. It is usually considered at three levels: genetic diversity, species diversity and ecosystem diversity.
  48. 48. Kinds of Biodiversity Species – Species numbers – Species richness – Taxonomic diversity Genetic Habitat/Eco-systems
  49. 49. Species Diversity Mammals – 4,000 Birds – 9,040 Amphibians – 4,184 Reptiles – 6,300 Fish – 19, 056 Plants – 248,428 Insects – 751,000
  50. 50. Texas Biodiversity Nongame Game T&E Extinct Mammals Birds Herps Fish 122 509 178 157 20 47 1 30 20 28 33 26 6 6 1 8 TOTAL 168 TX Only 10 590 213 49 44 Total 966 98 107 21 % Total 81% 8% 9% 2% 221 1192 100% 23 126 11%
  51. 51. Relative Biodiversity Univ. of Sydney http://bugs.bio.usyd.edu.a u/Entomology/importance /imagePages/speciesSca pe.html
  52. 52. Species-scape Univ. of Sydney http://bugs.bio.usyd.edu.au/Entomology/importance/imagePages/speciesScape.html
  53. 53. From: WWF, http://worldwildlife.org/science/pubs/bioscience.pdf
  54. 54. Texas Vertebrate Diversity by Region
  55. 55. Texas – Biotic Crossroads Schmidly, 2001
  56. 56. NatureServe, States of the Unio
  57. 57. Figure 27. Texas Environmental Resource Stewards (TERS): Texas Ecological Assessment Protocol (TEAP) Results Pilot Project. U.S. EPA. 2005
  58. 58. Changes in Species Status in Texas Schmidly, 2001
  59. 59. Biodiversity is determined by …. • Latitude • Elevation • Patch size
  60. 60. From: http://botany1.bio.utk.edu/botany120lect/Biomes/biomemap.htm
  61. 61. Major Terrestrial Biomes of the World • • • • • Ice Tundra Taiga Grassland Temperate Forest • • • • • Chaparral Savanna Desert Mountain Tropical Rainforest
  62. 62. Biomes From: Taggart, R.E., http://taggart.glg.msu.edu/bs110/biomes.htm
  63. 63. Above Canopy Species Texas Birds and their Habitat Vultures Hawks Swallows Swifts Canopy Owls Woodpeckers Vireos Nuthatches Tanagers Creepers Thrushes Warblers Midstory Warblers Jays Vireos Chickadees Cardinals Kinglets Understory Mockingbirds Wrens Bluebirds Doves Ground Cover Sparrows Waterfowl Canopy Junipers Pines Cedars Maples Shorebirds Wadingbirds Midstory Hickories Oaks Elms Pecans Understory Ground Cover Ash Maples Sweetgum Hackberries Tall Shrubs Low Shrubs Prairie Wetland Gramas Bluestems Paspalums Sedges Rushes Cattails Dogwoods Viburnums Hawthorns Agaritas Yaupons Wax Myrtles
  64. 64. Island Biogeography Size of island & Distance between islands Determines »Species diversity »Extinction rates »Immigration/Emigration ability Applies to virtual islands!!! (habitat fragments) McArthur and Wilson (1967)
  65. 65. Biodiversity and Habitat Fragments • Island biogeography applies to terrestrial habitat „islands‟ too! • Small habitats hold fewer species, smaller populations • Small populations are vulnerable to extinction due to: – environmental changes – natural disasters – random chance
  66. 66. Habitat Fragmentation When habitat is divided into smaller sections Some species benefit, others are harmed
  67. 67. Edge Effect and Fragmentation
  68. 68. FRAGMENTATION AND EDGE EFFECT •Increased edge effect •Increasing generalists •Increased parasitism •Increased predation •Specialists lost •“Ecological trap”
  69. 69. Edge Effects on Wildlife May benefit – White-tailed deer – Some game birds – Small mammals – Predators – Invader Species May harm – Interior forest species – Grassland species – Habitat specialists – Threatened or endangered species
  70. 70. Managing for Edge Species Leopold, A. 1933. Game Management.
  71. 71. Corridors • To allow interspersal among islands and fragments • Width is important • Corridor must be appropriate habitat type • Results still somewhat theoretical
  72. 72. Designing Corridors
  73. 73. Connectivity Worst Better Even Better Best
  74. 74. Threats to Biodiversity • Human population effects – Habitat loss – Habitat fragmentation – Incompatible development • Climate change • Invasive/Exotic species • Disruption of ecosystem function – Overgrazing – Fire suppression – Diminished freshwater flows • Limited understanding of natural systems
  75. 75. Management Implications Conserve all habitat/eco-system types Conserve „all the pieces‟ Promote plant diversity Promote native species Realize genetic diversity is also important Re-establish natural processes (flood, fire, buffers) Consider edge effects Interdependence ----------- Sustainability
  76. 76. The first requisite of intelligent tinkering is to save all the pieces. Aldo Leopold (1947)
  77. 77. “There are some who can live without wild things, and some who cannot. ... Like winds and sunsets, wild things were taken for granted until progress began to do away with them. …
  78. 78. …Now we face the question whether a still higher „standard of living‟ is worth its cost in things natural, wild, and free. For us of the minority, the opportunity to see geese is more important than television, and the chance to find a pasque-flower is a right as inalienable as free speech.” Aldo Leopold 1887 - 1948
  79. 79. It Ain‟t Easy Being Green …When green is all there is to be It could make you wonder why, but why wonder why? Wonder, I am green and it'll do fine, it's beautiful! And I think it's what I want to be. Joe Rapposo, 1970 (Oh, and Kermit the Frog, too)
  80. 80. The Nature Conservancy The Nature Conservancy's efforts to preserve the diversity of life on Earth depends solely on the support of its members. nature.org/texas www.facebook.com/natureconservancyte

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