Questions tagged [ecology]

Interactions and relationships among organisms and their environment. This includes biotic and abiotic (non-living/environmental) factors that impact organisms.

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30
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1answer
4k views

Can beavers control the direction a tree falls?

We humans can easily control the direction a tree falls by making a number of strategic cuts, essentially creating a hinge: This prevents trees from falling on equipment and people and sets them up ...
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Earth overshoot day: is it a sound concept?

Today, August 8th, is Earth Overshoot Day (EOD) for 2016, the day when humanity supposedly has consumed the natural resources available from the planet for the year 2016; we're now running a deficit, ...
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Smallest viable reproducing population

What is the smallest viable reproducing population, such as in a human population. By viable I mean a population which keeps genetic defects low (enough). A very strongly related question: what is ...
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752 views

How do biological communities at deep-ocean hydrothermal vents migrate between vents?

Much interest in the astrobiology community has been generated by the discovery of biological communities populating deep-ocean hydrothermal vents (i.e. "black smokers"). (1) These ecosystems rely on ...
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Why haven't prey evolved the ability to always outrun their predators?

I can understand why some prey can't outrun a recently evolved species. However, since cheetahs have existed for so long, why haven't its prey evolved to always outrun it, driving cheetahs to ...
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What prevents predator overpopulation?

I've often heard that a population, human or otherwise, will continue to grow as long as there is food available (assuming nothing else is killing them off). It makes sense: if you have food you can ...
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How to get rid of mosquitoes in a small lake

I own a small lake. Give or take it is about 50 meters wide and 100 meters long (or 160 feet wide, 320 feet long), with a max depth of around 2 meters / 6.5 feet. One third of the lake is surrounded ...
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What exactly is this small puffer fish doing and how did it manage to accomplish such a feat?

I recently saw a video on youtube where it shows a puffer fish making intricate designs in the sand: OZZY MAN VIDEO The puffer fish made this design on the sand: What exactly is the puffer ...
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Why are flies not scared when landing on a monitor with changing graphics?

I have been wondering why would insects in general, not be scared when important changes happen on your monitor where they have landed... If you move even just a finger, they are scared to death and ...
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How do burrowing animals get enough oxygen?

Tree borers make a small hole in a tree. At the end of it, they chew on wood to elongate the tunnel. They digest food and grow. All this takes oxygen. The entrance to the tunnel is generally small. ...
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Why is a mosquito feeding on human blood not a parasite?

I recently read in my Ecology course notes that a mosquito feeding on human blood is not considered as a parasite. However, since it sucks blood from the human body, shouldn't it be regarded as a ...
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Was the recent “conservation hunt” of a black rhino supported by science?

CNN recently covered a sanctioned black rhino hunt in Namibia by Texan Corey Knowlton, who bid US$350,000 for the license. In the story, he claims that the hunt was actually supporting conservation of ...
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Where can I find historical data on world-wide ecology parameters?

I hope this is the right StackExchange forum for such a question. I'm looking for large data sets on world-wide ecology parameters, such as annual temperatures by latitude, annual rainfall, CO₂ and O₂...
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How will rising carbon dioxide levels in the troposphere affect photosynthetic producers?

Much discussion has been had about the affects of climate change on plantlife, but how will rising carbon dioxide concentrations affect the photosynthetic process itself? Since CO₂ is a reagent in ...
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Why are oceans said to have “low productivity” in terms of photosynthesis?

80% of the world's photosynthesis takes place in the ocean. Despite this, oceans are also said to have low productivity - they cover 75% of the earth's surface, but out of the annual 170 billion ...
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Why are these trees leaning, but no trees around them are?

This was observed in Florida.The trees on the left have a distinct lean to them, but none of the other trees in the area are leaning, why is this? I'm not sure what other information is pertinent or ...
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1answer
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Why are some berries poisonous?

In my understanding, the evolutional function of berries is to be eaten and pood out somewhere else, so that the seeds of the plant spread. Is this so? Then why are some berries poisonous?
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1answer
749 views

Do invasive species cause long-term damage to ecosystems they invade?

Growing up in the U.S., I was warned at various times of the dire consequences of a variety of introduced pests (usually insects). Japanese beetles, gypsy moths, and most recently the brown ...
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How do trees communicate in the “Wood Wide Web”?

I read on The New Yorker - The Secrets of the Wood Wide Web that trees communicate with each other through electrical impulses sent through their roots. Through these impulses they can ask other trees ...
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When are population dynamics models useful?

When are population dynamics models useful? There seems to have been a lot of research about it, but how does it help? If I need data about how a population will evolve under what conditions, I need ...
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Can humans transdermally absorb minerals from ocean water, and if so how much?

According to several studies quoted here, chemicals can be absorbed by the skin transdermally, at least under certain conditions. When it comes to elements in seawater like sodium, magnesium, ...
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1answer
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Which biological kingdom comprises the greatest biomass on Earth?

Which of the five biological kingdoms - animalia, protista, plantera, monera, or fungi - has the largest biomass? To clarify, if the biomass of every species in each of these kingdoms was added up, ...
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846 views

What is Growing on These Tree Leaves? (Image)

I found a seemingly diseased tree when I was out playing tennis yesterday... What is growing on this tree leaf? Is this a disease? If so, is it contagious? I have zero knowledge in botany, but I'm ...
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479 views

Are there any side-effects from a mosquitoes extinction?

Suppose that we have the ability to make mosquitoes extinct, what would be the likely effects (on disease and ecosystems for example) of such extinction? Essentially, what roles in nature do ...
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Vaccination and population dynamics of an epidemic

I'm trying to figure out how should a vaccination model be built to correlate with population density, and I'm having problems to understand meanings of the results I receive when I apply theory on ...
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3answers
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Most suitable biodiversity index

I am conducting an investigation into the effect of two different grass management techniques (grazing vs. machine-mowing) upon floral biodiversity. I have collected my data and now need to process ...
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1answer
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Why do some plant species have lobed leaves, while similar species in the same habitat don't?

Some plants have lobed leaves, like the English oak (Quercus robur), while other plants growing the same deciduous woodland habitats, and very often growing alongside oaks, such as the European beech (...
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Why do bumble bees run repeatedly into walls?

I have noticed on dozens of occasions that bumble bees will run repeatedly into a wall. Usually between 1 - 5 times before clearing the obstacle or flying away. Credit: Spine Films This source ...
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How big should the human population be, as predicted by body mass?

I would guess there is a theory in biology which states that the population size for a given species is inversely proportional to the body mass of individuals in that species. In other words, there ...
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1answer
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Did the construction of the Panama Canal lead to a huge change in the local marine ecology?

Before the Panama Canal opened in 1914, its two ends were only 77 km apart over land, but the closest sea route was 32,000 km long (around the entirety of South America) and passed through much colder ...
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Why do birches have a white bark?

Several species of the tree genres Betula have a white bark,especially when they are young. This is quite peculiar to trees - at least in central Europe; so I'm wondering if there is a ecological ...
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1answer
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Algae or Lichen identification. Coastal BC, Canada

I have tried all books and internet resources I know of, but I still have no idea what this might be — a lichen or something else. At first glimpse, I thought it was something man-made and unnatural, ...
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1answer
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Does the cell internal temperature changes in response to a change in external temperature?

Background Some species are homeotherm (internal temperature is not affected by a change in external temperature) and some are poikilotherm (internal temperature changes in response to external ...
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Does preservation in ethanol alter leaf litter mass?

I have benthic samples that were collected with an Ekman dredge from some small ponds. The samples contain quite a bit of coarse particulate organic matter (CPOM, basically dead leaves). I would ...
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Can elements of one's environment act directly as hormones?

Can pollution and things in an organism's environment serve as hormones?
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Inexperienced divers damage coral, but parrot fish eating coral doesn't do damage?

I've been learning about life on coral reefs. Recently I've become aware of the damage to coral reefs caused by tourism and inexperienced divers: 1) Corals have a thin membrane which keeps them ...
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How did zootoxins evolve?

I've always wondered how toxins in certain organisms have evolved. Particularly, organisms that produce toxins as a deterrent to predators as opposed to organisms that use it to paralyze their prey. ...
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Are there species that occupy several roles in the food hierarchy?

Are there species that occupy several roles in the food hierarchy? By role, I am referring to producer, primary consumer, secondary consumer, tertiary consumer, quaternary consumer and so on. ...
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Why are the fertility rates of large predators kept low?

Predators at the top of a food chain, like lions, seem to have a relatively low fertility rate, which fits well to the ecosystem and avoids overpredation. But what is the mechanism that keeps the ...
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What triggers the migration of robins?

I live in central Massachusetts, and have begun seeing robins, as we generally do in early March. The temperature is well below normal, though, and three feet of snow are covering the still-frozen ...
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1answer
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How does population stability evolve?

The number of individuals constituting a population is called population size. Over time population size does not remain constant, it fluctuates to different extent over generations because of ...
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What predates on cactus in the Atacama desert?

Introduction Last week, I was in the Atacama desert where I've seen many cacti. Some / many of them were seemingly suffering from predation. Most of predation seemed to be on cardón, often restricted ...
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What bacteria shed harvestable energy from root zone organic matter?

I recently heard of a successful effort that harvests energy from soil at plants' bases due to apparently bacterial breakdown of wastes from the plants: Via photosynthesis a plant produces organic ...
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Does artificial high intensity light damage permanently dark ecosystems?

Popular science features on wildlife typically capture camera images using natural light, or high-speed exposures. This is not possible where the ambient light is extremely poor. E.g. Caves, Undersea ...
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Does rainwater contain many fewer micro-organisms than river water?

From watching many documentaries on micro-organisms, I can tell water typically contains quite a lot of them. But what about rainwater? (before it hits the ground). I know nothing about any micro-...
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Is there an antagonistic association between Penicillium and Aspergillus?

Some Aspergillus species appear to like walnuts. My question concerns the association of Penicillium and Aspergillus. No sooner does Aspergillus colonize a walnut (or some other challenging carbon ...
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Is there a hypothesis that attempts to explain patterns of species richness along all three energy-related environmental gradients?

My question is related to one of the oldest question in ecology: "What determines global patterns of species richness?". However, I want to focus on one particular part of this question, which has ...
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1answer
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Do camels pose an environmental threat to kangaroos?

Camels, once used for transport across the Australian outback, were set free, and are reproducing at an uncontrolled rate in the empty interior of Australia. Do the ecosystems of camels and ...
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423 views

Database of Geographic Range of Species

Is there a database of organisms which would contain their queriable geographic location? I would need to perform a rather simple query, such as ...
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1answer
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How does a pine cone open?

When a pine cone is wet, it remains closed. However, when it's dry it opens again. From the perspective of physics or biomechanics, what is the mechanism that allows a pine cone to open and close as ...