General Principles of Ecology

Categories: EcologyNature

The term ecology refers to the study of abundance and circulation of living organism in an ecosystem, together with the interaction that exists in between them and the natural environment. The distribution of organisms is typically influenced by the adjustment of a certain organism to the environment. An adjustment describes an organism’s capability to exist effectively in a given environment. Therefore, organisms can just exist in environments that they are adjusted to. When a given species of animal or plant is adapted in a provided natural environment, then it becomes dispersed in that environment densely and in high numbers.

Those that do not have the ability to adjust well are poorly dispersed, given that they can not handle the pressures or stress that emanate from the environmental conditions. Different types of plants can be adapted to low and high– nutrient environments. Plants always attempt to adapt to the environments in several ways. The plants that inhabit low– nutrient locations grow at a sluggish rate, as an adaptation to the deficiency of nutrients.

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These plants likewise have the ability to recycle nutrients internally. Those in high nutrient areas on the other hand grow fast. They have the capability to control the absorption of nutrients at minimum levels.

The breakdown of dead raw material in the soil goes through several processes. The very first process of breakdown includes the alteration of the raw material chemical components. This is then followed by another procedure, whereby the chemical components are split or fragmented. After going through these two procedures, the raw material mineral nutrients are then launched into the soil and they are then transformed into simpler parts that can be taken in by the plants.

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The day length affects the seasonal activity of plants and animals, due to the fact that the length of the day length sets off particular changes.

These changes include the climatic patterns in an area. Both plants and animals synchronize their behavioral and physiological activities with the seasonal changes. By doing this, they are able to carry out certain activities based on the season of the year. For example, the migration in animals is sometimes synchronized with the seasonal changes. Plants on the other hand, synchronize activities such as pollination with seasons when the activity can be easily facilitated by the pollinators. Temperature conditions in a given natural ecosystem affect the response of both the homeotherms and the poikilotherms.

While the homeotherms have the ability to maintain their internal environment temperature at a stable level, the poikilotherms on the other hand cannot regulate their internal environment temperature. Changes in temperature triggers behavioral changes in poikilotherms as they try to regulate their body temperature depending on the external temperature. For example, some poikilotherms may bask out in the sun so as to regulate body temperature by warming their bodies. The homeotherms try to regulate their body temperature using feedback mechanisms in their body systems.

For instance, their blood vessels may undergo dilatation or constriction as their bodies try to conserve heat. Climatic changes may trigger an inactive state in animals, especially during the cold season or winter. Hibernation and torpor are two examples behavioral adaptations in animals to very low temperatures. In both, animals go into a state of inactivity and they lower their body metabolism as a strategy of conserving energy . However, there is one major difference between the two. In hibernation, the animals’ body temperature at a significant level. Animals that hibernate become inactive for a long period of time.

Torpor on the other hand is whereby animals lower their body temperature but at minimal levels as compared to that in hibernators. Animals that undergo torpor may be inactive but usually wake up several times. The Black Bear is not considered as a true hibernator because its body temperature does not reduce significantly as that of a true hibernator . Furthermore, the bear remains alert and active during the period of “hibernation”.


Odum, E. P. (1971) . General Principles of Ecology, Third Edition W. B. Suanders Company. Smith, T. M. , and Smith, R. L. (2005). Elements of Ecology. (6th Edition). Benjamin Cummings Publishers

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General Principles of Ecology. (2016, Dec 30). Retrieved from

General Principles of Ecology

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