When a technique such together biology is studied, it is often helpful to subdivide it into smaller, related areas. For instance, cabinet biologists interested in cell signaling require to know the chemistry that the signal molecule (which space usually proteins) as well as the an outcome of cabinet signaling. Ecologists interested in the factors that affect the survive of one endangered species might use mathematical models to predict how present conservation efforts impact endangered organisms.

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To create a sound set of management options, a conservation biologist needs come collect accurate data, including current population size, components affecting reproduction (like physiology and behavior), habitat needs (such as plants and also soils), and potential human being influences top top the endangered populace and that habitat (which can be acquired through studies in sociology and urban ecology). Within the self-control of ecology, researchers occupational at 4 general levels, which sometimes overlap. This levels room organism, population, community, and ecosystem (Figure 1).


Figure 2. The Karner blue butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) is a rare butterfly that lives just in open areas with few trees or shrubs, such as pine barrens and oak savannas. It have the right to only lay its egg on lupine plants. (credit: change of occupational by J & K Hollingsworth, USFWS)

Researchers studying ecology in ~ the organismal level room interested in the adaptations that permit individuals come live in specific habitats. These adaptations can be morphological, physiological, and also behavioral. Because that instance, the Karner blue butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) (Figure 2) is considered a specialist due to the fact that the females only oviposit (that is, lay eggs) ~ above wild lupine (Lupinus perennis). This certain requirement and also adaptation means that the Karner blue butterfly is fully dependent ~ above the presence of wild lupine plants because that its survival.After hatching, the (first instar) caterpillars emerge and spend four to 6 weeks feeding exclusively on wild lupine (Figure 3). The caterpillars pupate together a chrysalis to undergo the last stage that metamorphosis and emerge as butterflies after about four weeks. The adult butterflies feeding on the nectar of flower of wild lupine and also other plant species, such as milkweeds. Typically there room two broods the the Karner blue each year.

A researcher interested in researching Karner blue butterflies in ~ the organismal level might, in addition to asking questions about egg laying requirements, questioning questions about the butterflies’ preferred thoracic flight temperature (a physiological question), or the habits of the caterpillars when they are at different larval step (a behavioral question).


Figure 3. The wild lupine (Lupinus perennis) is the just known organize plant because that the Karner blue butterfly.

Population Ecology

population is a group of interbreeding organisms that space members of the same types living in the same area in ~ the same time. (Organisms that space all members that the same types are called conspecifics.) A populace is identified, in part, by whereby it lives, and also its area of population may have natural or fabricated boundaries. Natural boundaries might it is in rivers, mountains, or deserts, while fabricated boundaries may be mowed grass, manmade structures, or roads. The research of population ecology focuses on the variety of individuals in one area and also how and also why populace size alters over time.

For example, populace ecologists are specifically interested in count the Karner blue butterfly since it is classified together a federally endangered species. However, the distribution and density of this types is highly influenced by the distribution and also abundance the wild lupine, and also the biophysical environment approximately it. Researchers could ask questions about the factors leading to the decline of wild lupine and also how these influence Karner blue butterflies. For example, ecologists understand that wild lupine thrives in open locations where trees and also shrubs are largely absent. In organic settings, intermittent wildfires on regular basis remove trees and shrubs, helping to maintain the open areas that wild lupine requires. Mathematical models deserve to be used to understand exactly how wildfire suppression by humans has actually led to the decline of this important plant because that the Karner blue butterfly.

Community Ecology

biological community consists that the different types within one area, generally a three-dimensional space, and the interactions within and among these species. Ar ecologists are interested in the processes driving these interactions and their consequences. Concerns about conspecific interactions often emphasis on competition among members that the same varieties for a minimal resource. Ecologists likewise study interactions in between various species; members of different species are called heterospecifics. Examples of heterospecific interactions incorporate predation, parasitism, herbivory, competition, and pollination. This interactions deserve to have regulating impacts on population sizes and can affect ecological and also evolutionary processes affecting diversity.

For example, Karner blue butterfly larvae form mutualistic relationships v ants (especially Formica spp). Mutualism is a kind of permanent relationship that has coevolved between two types and from which each varieties benefits. Because that mutualism to exist between individual organisms, each species must receive some benefit from the various other as a consequence of the relationship. Researcher have shown that over there is boost in survival when ants protect Karner blue butterfly larvae (caterpillars) native predaceous insects and spiders, an act recognized as “tending.” This might be due to the fact that the larvae spend much less time in every life stage as soon as tended by ants, which offers an benefit for the larvae. Meanwhile, to tempt the ants, the Karner blue butterfly larvae secrete ant-like pheromones and a carbohydrate-rich substance the is an essential energy resource for the ants. Both the Karner blue larvae and the ants advantage from your interaction, return the species of attendant ants may be partially opportunistic and also vary end the selection of the butterfly.

Ecosystem Ecology

Ecosystem ecology is an extension of organismal, population, and also community ecology. The ecosystem is created of all the biotic components (living things) in an area along with the abiotic components (nonliving things) of that area. Several of the abiotic materials include air, water, and also soil. Ecosystem biologist ask questions around how nutrients and energy room stored and also how lock move among organisms and also through the neighboring atmosphere, soil, and also water.

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The Karner blue butterflies and the wild lupine live in an oak-pine barren habitat. This habitat is defined by natural disturbance and also nutrient-poor soils that space low in nitrogen. The access of nutrients is critical factor in the circulation of the plants that live in this habitat. Researchers interested in ecosystem ecology could ask questions around the prestige of restricted resources and also the activity of resources, such as nutrients, despite the biotic and abiotic parts of the ecosystem.

Dividing eco-friendly Study

Ecology can likewise be classified on the communication of:

the major kinds of organism under study (e.g. Pet ecology, tree ecology, insect ecology)the biomes principally learned (e.g. Woodland ecology, meadow ecology, desert ecology, benthic ecology, maritime ecology, metropolitan ecology)the geographical or climatic area (e.g. Arctic ecology, tropical ecology)the spatial range under factor to consider (e.g. Macroecology, see ecology)the philosophical strategy (e.g. Solution ecology which adopts a holistic approach)the techniques used (e.g. Molecule ecology)