Presentation on theme: "Ecological niche and gradients. Why are there so many species? How is it that so many species can co-exist? Why are some species common and others rare?"— Presentation transcript:
Ecological niche and gradients
Why are there so many species? How is it that so many species can co-exist? Why are some species common and others rare? Why don’t you find mangroves in freshwater? Niche
Eltonian definition of niche Niche = doing a job in a small village. Only room for one baker, one butcher, etc. One species, one niche, one place, one time.
Global plant richness What patterns are there here? And why do they exist?
Bird endemic areas Birdlife International recognizes 21 endemic bird areas (regions with an unusual concentration of endemic species) Endemic = range restricted to a relatively small area (50,000 km2) in this case.
Factors that influence biodiversity Historical factors: e.g. evolutionary history, response to ice ages. Modern environmental gradients: e.g. temperature, precipitation, soil moisture deficit, salinity, disturbance, soils.
Environment and competition Winner of competition between two competing species of fish is different at different temperatures.
Species response to Environmental gradient
Within the range of tolerance there may be further subdivisions Generally better conditions are needed for reproduction than for growth and both of these need better conditions than simple survival. Thus reproduction will limit the actual occurrence of the sp.
Niche and gradients The niche defines the total ecological space in which a species could survive. Ecological conditions vary from one place to another, e.g. Warmer, drier, higher pH, salinity, better drained, lack of competitor/predator. Often we can think of these as environmental gradients.
Adaptation Adaptations are evolved to allow niche specialization.
Environental factors will affect growth response Generation times may be different through the year. As climate changes growth responses will change.
In this example: Temperature is axis 1 Salinity is axis 2 Environmental gradients as axes Organism’s distribution can be defined by its range on an environmental axis
With 3 gradients/dimensions Example corals –Respond predictably to light, salinity and temperature. As niche is represented by a cube we can think of it as a volume.
What about all the other dimensions? How many dimensions are there….n So we can define a niche as an n-dimensional hypervolume, first introduced by G.E. Hutchinson (1959). This definition is more useful than the “job” definition of niche offered by Elton as it is predictive and can be quantified. The maximum possible range of a species defined in n dimensions is its fundamental niche (i.e. in the absence of competition).
With competition the niche space may be reduced Competition prevents occupation of all of fundamental niche. The portion actually occupied in the presence of competition is the realized niche Fundamental niche sp1 Realized niche with 1 competitor
With competition the niche space may be reduced Competition prevents occupation of all of fundamental niche. The portion actually occupied in the presence of competition is the realized niche Fundamental niche sp1 And now with 2 competitors
Niche and competition Species that compete for the same resource must minimize competition…..15% difference hypothesis for coexistence. Spatial, temporal or physiological separation. Large zone of competition, means resource harder to acquire -> less efficient ->less reproductive success -> lower fitness -> extinction of lineage.
Back to ecological gradients We can predict that along an ecological gradient a species will rise to an optimum, decline and be replaced by another species rising to an optimum and so on.
One sp. response to a gradient Occurrence of Eragrostis (a sedge) from submerged (left) to high ground (right). Quadrat 2 is at waterline
Whittaker’s (1960) classic study of the Siskyou Mtns Demonstrated individualistic response to gradients. Strongly Gleasonian outcome
Coenocline from Boomer Pond Coenocline: a figure representing the distributions of all species as a function of environmental gradients. (i.e. all species response curves combined)