Introduction to Biology: Ecology


Part of the Introduction to Biology: Ecology, Evolution, and Biodiversity Specialization.

Ecology is all about connections. We’ll see how interdependent every living thing is and how people are impacting the natural world. Like all sciences, ecology isn’t just a list of known facts– it’s also a process. I love telling stories, and I’ve included many stories about how we’ve come to know what we know about ecology through observations and experiments.

Module 1. What is Ecology?

  1. Be able to define ecology.
  2. Know some of the goals of ecology.
  3. Become familiar with some of the ways in which ecology can be applied to help people.

Module 2. Community Ecology

  1. Become familiar with basic patterns in the distribution of life on Earth.
  2. Know the major factors that influence where species live.
  3. Be aware of some of the approaches that ecologists use to study community ecology.
  4. Gain an understanding of the concept of an ecological niche, including how a niche can be visualized and what happens when species have overlapping niches.

Module 3. Island Biogeography

  1. Be familiar with the development of the equilibrium theory of island biogeography.
  2. Have a basic understanding of the equilibrium theory of island biogeography.
  3. Be able to apply the theory of island biogeography to real islands and protected areas.

Module 4. Species Interactions

  1. Become familiar with the various ways that species interact with one another.
  2. Be able to define a keystone species.
  3. Gain an appreciation for the roles of predators in ecological communities.
  4. Understand how disturbances affect ecological communities.

Module 5. Population Ecology

  1. Know how to estimate population size using the mark-recapture method.
  2. Be familiar with the factors that affect population size in animals and people.
  3. Be able to define a population’s carrying capacity.
  4. Be familiar with the history and recent trends in human population growth.

Module 6. Conservation Biology

  1. Be familiar with the major threats to living species.
  2. Understand the impacts of habitat loss on the natural world.
  3. Be aware of the impact of invasive species on the natural world.
  4. Understand some of the impacts of climate change on the natural world.

Module 7. The Future of the Biosphere

  1. Be aware of the current declines in biodiversity.
  2. Be familiar with examples of how biodiversity loss affects ecosystems.
  3. Know some of the ways that biodiversity loss affects people.

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