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Introduction to Ecology CERC Certificate Program Columbia University Session 5 – Conservation Biology.

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Presentation on theme: "Introduction to Ecology CERC Certificate Program Columbia University Session 5 – Conservation Biology."— Presentation transcript:

1 Introduction to Ecology CERC Certificate Program Columbia University Session 5 – Conservation Biology

2 Conservation Biology Why now? Definition of Conservation Biology Habitat Loss and Fragmentation Invasive Species Disease Ecology Ecotoxicology What Can We Do? Goals for the day But Before That…. Let’s Discuss the Introduced Species Summary Project Exercise

3 Introduced Species Summary Project What species did you do? –Responses? –Why did you choose the species you did? –Should your species be controlled? Why?

4 Conservation Biology Why now? Definition of Conservation Biology Habitat Loss and Fragmentation Invasive Species Disease Ecology Ecotoxicology What Can We Do? Goals for the day

5 Global Changes What processes are at work at present in the planet? Examples –Global Climate Change –Acid Rain –Spread of Pollution and Toxins –Spread of Biotic Pollution How are these occurring? –What is the generative force behind them?

6 Global Change Cause What is the Generative Force behind these changes?US!

7 Human Impact We have altered nearly all of the Earth that it is profitable for us to do so

8 Why Now? Why has human population growth so escalated recently? What has happened to cause this? –When was the last large dip in world population?

9 Conservation Biology Why now? Definition of Conservation Biology Habitat Loss and Fragmentation Invasive Species Disease Ecology Ecotoxicology What Can We Do? Goals for the day

10 Definition of Conservation Biology Applied ecology … but with an agenda! Is this truly scientific? –Why or why not?

11 Agenda Items Why should we care about conserving biodiversity? –Ecosystem Function –Direct Economic Uses –Indirect Economic Uses –Ethical Reasons –Aesthetic Reasons

12 Agenda Items Nearly all of these are subjective and involve value judgments –Not everyone values biodiversity –Short-term gain may outweigh these considerations Financial, Survival Respect others’ views? vs.

13 Conservation Biology Why now? Definition of Conservation Biology Habitat Loss and Fragmentation Invasive Species Disease Ecology Ecotoxicology What Can We Do? Goals for the day

14 Habitat Loss Single greatest threat to biodiversity –Approx. 50+% of all species extinctions have been involved habitat loss –Island biogeography theory predicts that around 50% of species are lost with 90% habitat loss

15 Impacts of Habitat Modification Loss of Habitat Habitat Alteration Fragmentation Increased Human Presence Introduced Species

16 Impacts of Habitat Modification Loss of Habitat –Occasionally completely Paving - 377,810 miles in US forests only plus 44,000 m highways, plus ? m suburban, etc. –Usually remaining habitat in altered areas is suboptimal –Remaining individuals are stressed and have decreased fitness

17 Impacts of Habitat Modification Habitat Alteration –Remaining surrounding habitat is impacted due to use of altered habitat –E.g., fumes, pollution, from cars

18 Impacts of Habitat Modification Fragmentation –Key component: Edge Effects –Impacts of fragmentation percolate into interior –  aridity,  wind,  openness,  heat, change in water patterns,  noise, etc. –These impacts often permeate in several hundred meters Distance is species specific Birds in Australia = 200+ m

19 Impacts of Habitat Modification Increased Human Presence –Alteration leads to more alteration –People arrive, then their influence expands and intensifies

20 Impacts of Habitat Modification Introduced Species –Other species come with us as we fragment –Intentionally –Unintentionally –Thought to be the second strongest force behind only fragmentation –More about these

21 Conservation Biology Why now? Definition of Conservation Biology Habitat Loss and Fragmentation Invasive Species Disease Ecology Ecotoxicology What Can We Do? Goals for the day

22 Invasive Species Intentional Introductions –Crops, pets, ornamentals, ranching, etc. Unintentional Introductions –Everything else –Majority of Introductions are these

23 Invasive Species Impact on other species through many ways –Competition, predation, parasitism, herbivory, parasitoidism –Species need resources to survive and propagate –What does this view assume about community structure and niche availability?

24 Rule of Tens Not all species that are introduced are successful Stages of Invasion 1.Introduction 2.Establishment 3.Integration 4.Dominance (or Pest status or invasiveness)

25 Rule of Tens Only 10% make it through each stage –10,000 in a source area –1,000 introduced –100 established –10 integrated –1 pest –Empirical observation Transportation Establishment Integration Dominance (or Pest status)

26 Invasive Species Why can invasive species quickly explode in population size? Ecological Release –The restrictions on pop growth are removed in the novel location

27 Invasive Species This phenomenon can also be used to our benefit Can you think of examples? Biological Control of pest insects –Parasitoid wasps Erosion Control –E.g., Kudzu CAUTION

28 Heaviest Hit Location Hawaii –Comprises < 0.2% of total US land area –Has more than 25% of US endangered species –Approximately 72% of recorded extinctions are in Hawaii –Hawaii has more endangered species (per area) than anywhere else on the planetHawaii has more endangered species

29 Conservation Biology Why now? Definition of Conservation Biology Habitat Loss and Fragmentation Invasive Species Disease Ecology Ecotoxicology What Can We Do? Goals for the day

30 Disease Ecology Essentially a subfield within invasion biology –The pest is usually an introduced species –Bacteria, viruses, fungi, protists, etc. Responsible for tracking & controlling the spread of novel diseases

31 Disease Ecology Examples of this locally? West Nile Fever Malaria Chestnut Blight Dutch Elm Disease

32 Disease Ecology Novel feature here: –Need a vector (as with other Invasives) –Also need host(s) Harder to introduce diseases as a consequence than other species Rule of tens overestimates Emerging Infectious Diseases (EIDs)

33 Conservation Biology Why now? Definition of Conservation Biology Habitat Loss and Fragmentation Invasive Species Disease Ecology Ecotoxicology What Can We Do? Goals for the day

34 Ecotoxicology Definition: Spread of the scientific study of harmful effects caused by manmade chemicals to the natural environment Of particular interest are the effects on populations, communities, and ecosystems From Dictionary.com

35 Ecotoxicology An essential part is the study of the movement of potentially toxic substances through food webs and through the water cycle Dictionary.com

36 Ecotoxicology Example Floridian Feminized Feral Alligators First found in early 1990s Due to estrogen-like pollutants from sewage effluent Main chemical culprits: pesticides, industrial compounds, dioxins, & ingredients of plastics and detergents –Act to either mimic estrogen or block testosterone receptors –Suppress reproduction, by reducing their effective population size –Possibly also occurring in Humans?

37 Conservation Biology Why now? Definition of Conservation Biology Habitat Loss and Fragmentation Invasive Species Disease Ecology Ecotoxicology What Can We Do? Goals for the day

38 What Can We Do? Prioritize areas for conservation Restore already damaged areas –Called Restoration EcologyRestoration Ecology Land-for-debt swaps Ecosystem valuation Captive breeding programs Reducing our footprint Many others….

39 Ecological Pyramid Trends down pyramid: –Increase in geographic scale –From single species to multiple species –Increasing number of ecological factors that may be influential –Decreasing certainty in results BiomeBiosphere Population Community Ecosystem

40 The Tour of Ecology Has Concluded General Ecology Population ecology Community ecology Ecosystem ecology Conservation Issues –Is there any hope for the future? –You determine the answer…


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