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Community Structure

Factors that affect Community Structure:
• Predation
• Symbiosis
– Mutualism
– Commensalism
– Parasitism

• Competition
– Keystone predators

• Succession
– Primary and Secondary

• Predators feed
on other living
organisms -- their
• Predators do not
take up residence in
or on prey (unlike
• Prey may or may not
die from relationship

• A symbiotic relationship is one in which there is an
intimate, long-term relationship between two (or
more) species
– Involves one species living on or in another species for at
least part of life cycle

• A symbiotic relationship could be:
– Mutualistic
– Commensalistic
– Parasitic

Above & Below: A Clown fish makes its home and hides from its predators in an anemone and in return keeps the anemone clean from parasites and safe from its predators. Above: Impala being “groomed” by Oxpecker bird.Mutualism • Mutualism is a symbiotic relationship in which both species _benefit . . which “houses” the algae and protects it from water loss. which gets a meal of insects. Left: Lichen is really a mutualistic symbiosis between photosynthetic algae (which makes sugars for both species) and a fungus.

• Commensalism is a symbiotic relationship in which one species benefits and the other species is not affected Right: Epiphytes are plants that live on tropical tree limbs and obtain sunlight & rainwater without harming their “home” since their roots remain in the air (not inside tree bark or tissue). but do no harm to the shark. Below: Man-O-War fish (Nomeidae) find shelter and safety among the tentacles of a Portuguese Man-OWar jellyfish. .Commensalism Above: Remoras get a free ride from a Lemon shark.

Parasitism • Parasitism is a symbiotic relationship in which one species benefits (parasite) and the other species is harmed (host). breaking down the grain and getting food from it. Right: Ergot is a fungus that grows on grains such as barley. . frequently out-competing the host's offspring for food and parental care. living off of the nutrients that are intended for the host. Over time. Left: Tapeworms inhabit animal digestive tracts. Cowbird nestlings grow rapidly. Above: Cowbirds are “brood parasites” they lay their eggs in another bird’s nest and leave them to be hatched & raised by the host species. this weakens and can kill the host. This adult Yellow-throat is feeding a cowbird fledgling that's more than twice its size.

sunlight.) • Can be intraspecific (among individuals in a population) or interspecific (between different species) Ex) Oak trees and pine trees may compete for sunlight and space in a New England forest. water. shelter.Competition • Competition occurs when two or more individuals attempt to use an essential common resource that is in limited supply (food. etc. .

Sp1 & Sp2 - - * Symbiotic relationship .Species .Species Interactions Interaction Direct Direct Effect on Effect on Species 1 Species 2 Neutral relationship 0 0 Predation of Sp2 by Sp1 + - Mutualism of Sp1 & Sp2 * + + Commensalism of Sp1 w/ Sp2 * + 0 Parasitism by Sp1 on Sp2 * + - Competition betw.

that produce “antibiotic” chemicals (really anti-mold) .“Ancient Farmers of the Amazon” video clip • • • • • Leaf cutter ants Leaves (from trees) Cultivated Fungus (Ant “garden”) Mold Bacteria -.

it’s predators. and how it is influenced by light. water. Unlimited resources are not often found in mature. however… . etc. it’s physical habitat. it’s prey. different species can share a niche or role. wind.Competition & the Niche • Every org. • When resources are abundant. • This role description includes all the biotic & abiotic aspects of the organism’s existence. stable communities. it’s competitors. has its own ecological role or “job” in its community. this is called its ecological niche.

• Inter-specific competition between species with overlapping niches can lead to competitive exclusion.Inter-specific Competition • More typically. (ie removal of the less-fit species from the shared niche in question…) . species compete for resources and a particular niche.

however. and eventually goes extinct. When grown under the same conditions together. one species is out-competed by the . http://www.sdsu.sci.Competitive Exclusion Laboratory Experiment by Gause (1934): Two species of paramecium reach high population densities in given conditions when grown separately.

visit: Realized niche .more Competitive Exclusion There once were two species of barnacle that inhabited the same rock… For the story.htm • Potential niche v.

Species­Species Interactions: Practice Questions .

• Further study has proven that this is not the case. as well as biotic-abiotic interactions.Communities are shaped by all the interactions that occur within them • Ecologists used to think that competition was the most important relationship that determined community structure (both the number of species in a community and the size of each population). . all types of species-species interactions. are highly influential in determining community structure.

Community stability is an outcome of forces that have come into “uneasy balance” • Resources are sustained. • Predators & prey coexist. – Plants produce as little nectar as needed to attract pollinators – Pollinators take as much nectar as they can for the least effort . • Mutualists are stingy. as long as populations do not grow beyond capacity. • Competitors have no sense of fair play. as long as neither wins.

disturbance can slow growth of some populations • Long-term changes (like climate) can also destabilize • If instability becomes great enough. . community may change in ways that persist even when disturbance ends or is reversed • If some community member species are rare or weak competitors. they may become extinct.Disturbance can destabilize a community • Short-term.

• Keystone species may be present in relatively small numbers. • Ex: Fig trees in tropical rainforests of C.Keystone Species are “key” to maintaining community structure • Keystone Species: a species that is critical in determining the nature of an entire community. & S. or other resource. but still affect whole community structure. – Fig trees produce a continuous crop. Am. year-round – Figs sustain fruit-eating vertebrates at times of year when other fruits less available – No figs  no fruit-eating vertebrates – No fruit-eaters  less seed dispersal in fruited plants – Less seed dispersal  reduced distribution of fruit-bearing plants . water. usually by influencing amount of available food.

which in turn contributes to community stability (think about why this is so). Ex1: Gray Wolf Ex2: Sea Star (Pisaster) Ex3: Common periwinkle (Littorina littorea) .Keystone Predators • What is the role of a keystone predator? – reduces the density of the strongest competitors in a community – helps maintain species diversity in a community by preventing competitive exclusion of weaker competitors.

owls. badgers which rely on small animal prey  also see decline in scavengers (ravens. rabbits. deer pops explode due to loss of key predator  overgrazing of vegetation by deer  decline of smaller animals (rodents. insects) which rely on vegetation  decline of foxes. eagles) that eat wolf kill . hawks.Examples of Keystone Predators • Ex1: Gray Wolf – Wolves hunted to extinction in some areas  elk.

limpets. & various barnacles – When Pisaster was removed from community.Examples of Keystone Predators • Ex2: Sea star (Pisaster) preys on blue mussels. saw decline from 15 species to 8 species overall. chitons. because Mytilus was left to dominate and crowd out other invertebrates! .

they eat the dominant algal species. – This predation of filamentous green algae by periwinkles keeps this dominant species in check and allows other less competitive species. – In tidepools. Common periwinkle Filamentous green algae “Irish moss” – a red algae . unpalatable red algae Irish moss to survive. like the tough. like the yummy tender filamentous green algae.Another Example • Ex3: Common periwinkle (a type of snail) – Periwinkes live in the rocky intertidal zone and eat algae.

Species­Species Interactions:  More Questions for Thought & Practice .

What does the word succession mean?? .

There’s Royal succession… .

relatively stable “climax community. typically culminating in a mature.” .Ecological Succession A series of predictable changes in community structure over time.

Pioneer species: the first species to inhabit an area .Primary Ecological Succession Primary succession describes the process by which life can colonize virgin territory and turn barren land (no true soil present) into a thriving ecosystem. over a period of time.

Primary Ecological Succession .

Pioneer Species.Secondary Succession Secondary Succession occurs where vegetation has been removed but soil is intact (instead of starting with bare rock). Succession vocab: Disturbance. Climax Community .

utexas.micro.html introbiomes.html ecosystems/ .Photo Credits http://www.

Pioneer species: first species to inhabit an area Climax Community: mature. stable community .

.Secondary Succession Secondary Succession occurs where vegetation has been removed but soil is intact.