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LSM2251 Ecology & the Environment Section II: Individuals

1. Temperature Relations
2. Water Relations (read summary on your own), 3. Energy and Nutrient Relations

4. Social Relations

1. Temperature Relations
Molles, Chapter 5

1.1 Concepts

Organisms are adapted to function in a specic temperature range. The dynamic nature of the earths environmental history has resulted in migration, refugia and extinction.

1.1 Concepts

Macroclimate conditions and the local landscape produce microclimatic variability. Species function most effectively at a specic temperature range. Extreme episodes can be overcome by dormancy.

1.2 Microclimate variation

What is macroclimate? What is microclimate?

1.2 Microclimate variation

What is microclimate?

Elevation (altitude): Aspect (topography):

e.g. vegetation (right); Negev desert - moss cover on cooler (1.8-9.2 C), more moist slopes.

Rock periwinkles

Boulders/burrows; crevices in rocks

Woodland (N-facing) vs Grassland 5

1.2 Microclimate variation

The mounds of the mud lobster (Thalassina anomala) in Singapore mangroves may be up to 3 metres in height and their structure provides key habitats for many organisms, e.g.:

the ant Odontomachus malignus, the Tree-climbing crab Episesarma spp. the Mangrove mud shrimp Wolffogebia
phuketensis, the spider Idioctis littoralis, the le snake Acrochordus granulatus, social insects (e.g., termites), ferns and the tree, Excoecaria agallocha

1.2 Microclimate variation

What is microclimate?

Vegetation: shade and leaf litter created by vegetation.

Singapore endemic freshwater crab, Johora singaporensis

Even in dry weather, there is still a trickle of water


1.2 Microclimate variation

Boulders and burrows Thermal stability


The rocky shore environment is heterogenous


2005 data from Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico - uniform environment within the soil

Niah Caves, Sarawak - the uniform environmental conditions in caves, led to their use by early man.

1.3 Temperature and Performance

Total Heat =
Metabolic heat (+) Conduction (+/-) Convection (+/-) IR Radiation (+/-) Evaporation (-)


1.3 Temperature and Performance

Photosynthesis - optimal temperatures vary.

Rainbow trout acetylcholinesterase two peaks: why?

1.3 Temperature and Performance

Acclimation: short-term, reversible physiological not genetic
Adaptation? (Evolution)


1.4 Temperature regulation

Regulation by balancing heat loss

Do not regulate: poikilotherms Regulate (via external heat): ectotherms Regulate (via metabolic heat): endotherms What are homeotherms?


Fish with warmblooded features Circulatory mechanisms to brains and eyes above ambient temperatures - for predation; also in muscles, improving stamina for high-speed swimming.


Cost-benet of homeothermy

waste - long-distance: prey, predator function in cool temp fuel for stasis detectable prey


Temperature control in poikilotherms

How efcient is basking? How long does the Changeable lizard (Calotes versicolor) spend in the sun?

Green-crested lizard (native)


Temperature control in

Lab vs eld temperatures


1.5 Plant adaptations to extreme temperatures

Extreme conditions reveal adaptations. Alpine/tundra Desert,

xerophytic: evapotranspiration > precipitation Limit water loss: leaves anatomy Store water,: succulence Improve water uptake: roots; trichomes


Arctic and alpine plants Morphology and arrangement designed to cope with the environment, reduce chill and heat loss Cushion plant, arctic: - grows close to ground (shelter from wind) - reduces SA:V (and radiative heat loss) Desert plants Also shows a variety of adaptations to cope with the various types of heat gain Mangrove plants Show Xerophytic adaptations - being surrounded by brackish water is an extreme environment for a plant.

1.6 Temperature regulation in ectotherms


Clear-winged grasshopper

Photo by Ingrid Taylar


Radiative energy - pigmentation adjusted during development Clear-winged Grasshoppers were moving to light to raise their body temperatures by 10 degres C above ambient temperature - this was more than metabolic efciency - what was it?


1.7 Temperature regulation in endotherms


Thermal neutral zone

Metabolic processes geared to work in a narrow range Amidst varying ambient conditions, production and dissipation of heat is regulated A thermal neutral zone is a band of temperature in which little energy is required for heat regulation


Thermal neutral zone


Thermal neutral zone

Tropical species

Arctic species


Aquatic animal

Water = Heat sink Conserve heat via counter-current mechanism Reduce heat loss from blood by absorbing it back before blood reaches the extremities

Rete mirabilis

1.8 Surviving extremes


Animal thermophysiology

Thermal homeostasis Temporal heterothermy Bradymetabolism (bradus = slow; tachy = swift) Torpor = state of low metabolic rate and lowered body temperature


Heterothermy in hummingbirds


Prolonged torpor?

Hibernation - winter sleep Aestivation - summer sleep: snails, slugs, bivalves, crocs, frogs, insect larvae What happens during El Nino?


Distribution in ecosystem


Section II: Individuals

1. Temperature Relations
2. Water Relations (read summary on your own), 3. Energy and Nutrient Relations

4. Social Relations


3. Energy & Nutrient Relations

Molles, Chapter 7


3.1 Trophic diversity

In a solar-powered biosphere, the functional groups in an ecosystem are:

Photosynthetic Autotrophs (CO2 + light) Chemosynthetic Autotrophs (CO2 + inorg.) Heterotrophs (organic molecules)

In any ecosystem, identify the components of the trophic levels and construct the food chain. More in ecosystems.


3.2 C:N ratio

C:N ratio

Plants - 25:1 Animals, fungi bacteria - 5-10:1



3.3 Are plants passive to heterotrophs?

Abrasive silica, tough cellulose and lignin what kind of defense? Cellulose and lignin barriers to digestion what kind of defense? Consumption is not passive, what next?


3.4 Limits to consumption

Functional response (Holling, 1959)

Are there limits to energy intake, even in the face of unlimited resources?


Limits to consumption
Functional response (Holling, 1959)

Hollings Type II Attack rate (a), handling time (h)

MichaelisMenten equation

Energy intake, even in the face of unlimited resources, is limited by internal constraints


3.5 Resource allocation

In normal circumstances, organisms have limited access to energy. Natural selection favours individuals more effective at acquiring energy. Resource allocation: an organism has competing energetic demands, e.g.:

fecundity, defense growth (cf. Extinction Game).


Resource allocation

Optimal Foraging Theory: how do organisms feed as an optimising process, i.e. do they maximise/minimise some quantity?

energy acquisition water conservation breeding, dispersal


Optimal foraging by the North American Bluegill sunsh, Lepomis macrochirus

Werner & Mittelbach (1981)

prey size The sh feeds on some prey, ignores others

Photo by Sandy Richard


Optimal foraging by the North American Bluegill sunsh, Lepomis macrochirus

Werner & Mittelbach (1981)

theory predicts
Based on energy calculations for the search and handling of prey; lab estimates for handling and encounter times

Photo by Sandy Richard


Optimal foraging by the North American Bluegill sunsh, Lepomis macrochirus

Werner & Mittelbach (1981)

experimental results

Bluegill selected for uncommon and larger prey as predicted

Photo by Sandy Richard


4. Social relations
= Molles, Chapter 8: Social Relations


4.1 Ecology and Evolution

Behavioural ecology is the study of the ecological basis of animal behaviour. First the fundamentals (VIST): 1. Variation 2. Inheritance 3. Selection 4. Time

Selection for a trait leads to species characteristic


4.2 When can a trait, confer a disadvantage

(e.g. conspicuous to predators)

but still persist?


Mate Choice

Mate choice by one sex and/or competition for mates amongst individuals can result in the selection of specic traits = Sexual Selection


4.2 Sexual selection

Intrasexual selection - e.g. male dominance,
usually results in larger males, e.g. elephant seal.

Intersexual selection - e.g. female choice, can

result in exagerated displays, e.g. lyre bird.

Elaboration of trait will extend until balanced by some other source of natural selection.


Mate choice and sexual selection in Guppies, Poecilia reticulata

Native to the Caribbean Sexually dimorphic Two predators:

killish, Rivulus hartii: juveniles (headwaters) pike cichlid, Crenicichla alta: adults colourful = mating success increase colourful = predation risk increase

Female guppies prefer colourful males

Predation pressure affects expression on male sexual characters (Endler, 1980)

Increased predation

adult Decreased predator


Male guppies in high predation environments showed a reduced number of spots.


Female choice and male competition (Kodric-Brown, 1993)

Attractive male guppies sired more broods than unattractive males In both types (attractive, unattractive) dominant male guppies sired more than subordinate males


Other traits in mate choice behaviour (Thornhill, 1981)

Scorpionies, Panorpa spp. Nuptial gifts!

J. C. Lucier set-72157620750928440/


What do male scorpionies offer females?


Multiple factors in effect, each can dominate under specic circumstances



Individuals who live in groups exchange resources - the beginnings of sociality. Eusociality - pinnacle of social evolution;

> one generation living together cooperative care of young non-reproductive and reproductive castes


Cost-benet analysis of cooperative breeders

Which species are cooperative breeders? Few - about 300 species of birds, some mammals

Why would helpers help? Invest energy in genetically related individuals = inclusive tness (Hamilton, 1964), evolutionary force favouring such selection =kin selection Learning, recruitment, inheritance; coping with resource limitation


cooperative breeder most offspring stay with parents initially - breeding pair - offspring (non-breeding) helpers - even adopted individuals

helpers defend breeding territory, nest and young


when hunting take turns at sentinel duty watch for hawks, snakes, sound alarm rest hunt; listen to sentinel mob predator

But helpers not involved in: - nest building - incubation - egg brooding tolerated but increase reproductive success limited territory acceptable investment, 3 out of 25 years

Ecological conditions (e.g. availability of food, predator pressure) determine the behaviour favoured by natural selection.


Cooperative breeding is a common strategy in arid and semiarid portions of Africa and Australia Young adults put off the start of their own breeding in order to maximize their lifetime reproductive output, and in the process occasionally promote genes identical with their own via kin selection.


Environmental constraints, e.g. opportunities for younger birds to breed independently severely limited

- shortage of territory openings, - shortage of sexual partners (generally females), unpredictable availability of resources


A three male lion coalition, Kruger National Park

Aug 2008 - three male lions at Shimangwaneni Dam, just south of the Muzandzeni picnic site, Kruger National Park. Photo by Jo,


A three male lion coalition, Kruger National Park, South Africa

Aug 2008 - three male lions at Shimangwaneni Dam, just south of the Muzandzeni picnic site, Kruger National Park. Photo by Jo,


The Mapogo [Male] Lion Coalition

Raised by a coalition of ve males [Sparta pride] up to 2005 By 2009, a six male coalition in control of about 3 prides. Killed many large prey, many lions from other prides.


Lions: Male coalitions

Females related Males unrelated, related


Lions: Male coalitions


Lions: Male coalitions

Greater chance of siring young amongst unrelated males Larger related groups have effect of kin selection


Multiple factors in effect, each can dominate under specic circumstances