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Author Topic:   The beginning of ecology
Posts: 19720
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 2.8

Message 1 of 1 (795952)
12-20-2016 7:23 AM

and why the world is green
Excerpt now on line:


[T]he study of the regulation of animal numbers
forms about half the subject of ecology, although it
has hitherto been almost untouched.

... Charles Elton is nowhere near as famous as Darwin or Malthus, but he is known to biologists as the founder of modern ecology, and the central mystery that gripped him was how the numbers of animals are regulated.

While previous naturalists had seen a community as one entity, or as a collection of species, Elton took a novel, functional approach. It was obvious to Elton that in the economy of Arctic islands, the precious commodity was food. So he traced where every creature’s food came from.

But the connections among the inhabitants of the tundra extended far beyond a few animals. The droppings from the seabirds contained nitrogen, which was used by bacteria, which nourished plants, which produced food for insects, both of which were consumed by land birds (ptarmigan, sandpiper), which in turn were food for the arctic fox. In this manner, the food chains in a community were connected into larger networks that Elton dubbed “foodcycles,” later called food “webs.” Elton drew a schematic of these chains and webs, the first of its kind, in a paper published with Summerhayes in 1923. (Figure 2.3)

Very readable 17 pages.

Also look up

Hairston, Nelson G., Frederick E. Smith, and Lawrence B. Slobodkin. "Community Structure, Population Control, and Competition." The American Naturalist 94, no. 879 (1960): 421-25. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2458808.

... known as the "Why is the world green" paper.

Note: you can register for JSTOR and have free access to a "bookshelf" to read this (and other JSTOR) papers.

Or message me your email and I can email a pdf of the paper.


Edited by RAZD, : .

Edited by RAZD, : added info

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