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Species Interactions, Limiting

Resources and Other Population
© Cengage
© Cengage Learning
Learning 2015
Core Case Study: Southern Sea Otters - A
Species in Recovery
• Live in giant kelp forests – marine algae
• By the early 1900s the otters had been hunted
almost to extinction
• Partial recovery since 1977
• Why care about sea otters?
– Ethics
– Tourism dollars
– Keystone species
– Indicator species – very sensitive to environmental
© Cengage Learning 2015
Sea Otters, Kelp Forests, Sea Urchins

• Kelp is a giant alga which is anchored to the sea floor

and can grow 0.5m a day
• Kelp forests are
– vital for the protection of coasts
– one of the world’s most biodiverse marine ecosystems
– vital for absorbing CO2 from sea water
• Sea otters eat sea urchins – as many as 1,500 a day!!!!
Sea urchins eat kelp.
• Take away the otters and the urchins devastate the kelp
• In addition, kelp forests are destroyed by polluted water,
containing excess fertilisers and herbicides.
© Cengage Learning 2015
Southern Sea Otter
Algal blooms and the death of Sea Otters in 2015:
Sea otters, kelp forests and the extinction of Steller’s Sea Cow:

© Cengage Learning 2015

How Do Species Interact?

Population sizes are affected by five types of

species interactions:
1. Competition
2. Predation
3. Parasitism
4. Mutualism
5. Commensalism
These affect the way in which resources are used
© Cengage Learning 2015
Most Species Compete with One Another
for Certain Resources

• Inter-specific v intra-specific interactions

• Think of species interactions in terms of:
 POSITIVE + the species or organisms benefit
from the interaction
 NEGATIVE – the species or organisms lose out
 NEUTRAL 0 there is neither benefit nor loss

© Cengage Learning 2015

Some Species Evolve Ways to Share

• Interspecific competition
– Compete to use the same limited resources
• Resource partitioning
• Species may use only parts of resource
– At different times
– In different ways

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Resource Partitioning: Sharing the Wealth

Blackburnian Black-throated Cape May Bay-breasted Yellow-rumped

Warbler Green Warbler Warbler Warbler Warbler

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Specialist Species
of Honeycreepers

Specialist species of
honeycreepers: Through
natural selection,
different species of
honeycreepers developed
specialized ecological
niches that reduced
competition between
these species. Each
species has evolved a
specialized beak to take
advantage of certain
types of food resources.

© Cengage Learning 2015

Ecological Niches
Think – the predatory carnivores of the African Savanna:
• Lions
• Cheetahs
• Leopards
• Spotted Hyaenas
• Hunting Dogs
• Crocodiles
And answer these questions:
• What time of day do they hunt?
• What prey is preferred?
• How does each predator hunt?
• Where do they hunt?
© Cengage Learning 2015
Consumer Species Feed on Other Species

• Predator – feeds directly on all or part of a

living organism
• Carnivores
– Pursuit and ambush
– Camouflage
– Chemical warfare

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Consumer Species Feed on Other Species

• Prey can avoid predation

– Camouflage
– Chemical warfare
– Warning coloration
– Mimicry
– Behavioral strategies

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Predator-Prey Relationships

These prey species have

developed specialized
ways to avoid their
predators: (a, b)
camouflage, (c–e)
chemical warfare, (d, e)
warning coloration, (f)
mimicry, (g) deceptive
looks, and (h) deceptive
© Cengage Learning 2015
Interactions between Predator and Prey

• Intense natural selection pressures

between predator and prey populations
• Coevolution
– Interact over a long period of time
– Changes in the gene pool of one species can
cause changes in the gene pool of the other
– Bats and moths
• Echolocation of bats and sensitive hearing of
© Cengage Learning 2015

Bats hunt moths using echo-location at Predator-prey coevolution is illustrated by rough-

such high frequencies that we humans skinned newts and common garter snakes.
cannot hear. In the evolutionary ‘arms Through natural selection, newts evolved the
race’, moths developed ears able to listen ability to produce a strong toxin. In response,
to bat frequencies. Natural selection then garter snakes evolved the ability to resist the
favoured bats who could use ‘stealth toxin, so they could still safely prey upon newts.
location’ – frequencies so high even the Then, newts evolved the ability to produce
moths couldn’t hear. Some moths then higher levels of toxin. This was followed by
evolved to be able to emit ultrasonic garter snakes evolving resistance to the higher
clicks, which served as a defence levels. In short, the predator-prey relationship led
mechanism. Brilliant co-evolution which to an evolutionary “arms race,” resulting in
is probably still going on. extremely high levels of toxin in newts.
Some Species Feed off Other Species by
Living on or inside Them

• Parasitism
– Parasite is usually much smaller than the host
– Parasite rarely kills the host
– Parasite-host interaction may lead to
– Ecto- and endo-parasites

© Cengage Learning 2015

In Some Interactions, Both Species Benefit

• Mutualism
– Nutrition and protective relationship
– Gut inhabitant mutualism
– Not cooperation – mutual exploitation

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In Some Interactions, One Species
Benefits and the Other Is Not Harmed

• Commensalism
– Benefits one species and has little affect on
the other
– Epiphytes
– Birds nesting in trees

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What Limits the Growth of Populations

• No population can grow indefinitely

because of limitations on resources and
because of competition among species for
those resources

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Most Populations Live in Clumps

• Population
– Group of interbreeding individuals of the same
• Population distribution
– Most populations live together - Clumping
• Species cluster for resources
• Protection from predators
• Ability to hunt in packs

© Cengage Learning 2015

Population Distribution
Populations Can Grow, Shrink, or Remain

• Population size governed by:

– Births and deaths; immigration and emigration
• Population change = (births + immigration)
– (deaths + emigration)
• Age structure
– Pre-reproductive age
– Reproductive age
– Post-reproductive age
© Cengage Learning 2015
Some Factors Can Limit Population Size

• Range of tolerance
– Variations in physical and chemical
– Individuals may have different tolerance

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Some Factors Can Limit Population Size

• Limiting factor principle

– Too much or too little of any physical or
chemical factor can limit or prevent growth of
a population, even if all other factors are at or
near the optimal range of tolerance
– Precipitation, nutrients, sunlight
• Populations density
– Number of individuals in a given area

© Cengage Learning 2015

Trout Tolerance of Temperature
Lower limit Higher limit
of tolerance of tolerance

No Few Few No
organisms organisms Abundance of organisms organisms organisms
Population size

Zone of Zone of Zone of Zone of

Optimum range
intolerance physiological physiological intolerance
stress stress

Low Temperature High

© Cengage Learning 2015

Different Species Have Different
Reproductive Patterns

• Some species are r strategists:

– Have many small offspring
– Little parental involvement
• Other species are k strategists:
– Reproduce later in life
– Have small number of offspring
– Parental care

© Cengage Learning 2015

No Population Can Grow Indefinitely:
J-Curves and S-Curves

• There are always limits to population

growth in nature
• Environmental resistance – factors that
limit population growth
• Carrying capacity
– Maximum population of a given species that a
particular habitat can sustain indefinitely

© Cengage Learning 2015

No Population Can Grow Indefinitely:
J-Curves and S-Curves (cont’d.)

• Exponential growth
– At a fixed percentage per year
• Logistic growth
– Population faces environmental resistance

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Growth of a Sheep Population
Population overshoots
carrying capacity Environmental resistance

Carrying capacity
Number of sheep (millions)

Population recovers
and stabilizes

1.0 Population runs out of

Exponential resources and crashes


1800 1825 1850 1875 1900 1925

Case Study: Exploding White-Tailed Deer
Population in the U.S.

• 1900 – deer habitat destruction and

uncontrolled hunting
• 1920s–1930s – laws to protect the deer
• Current deer population explosion
– Spread Lyme disease
– Deer-vehicle accidents
– Eating garden plants and shrubs
• How can we control the deer population?
© Cengage Learning 2015
White-Tailed Deer Populations
When a Population Exceeds Its Carrying
Capacity It Can Crash

• A population exceeds the area’s carrying

• Reproductive time lag may lead to
– Subsequent population crash
• Damage may reduce area’s carrying

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Population Crash

2,000 Population
Number of reindeer



500 Carrying

1910 1920 1930 1940 1950

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Humans Are Not Exempt from Nature’s
Population Controls

• Ireland
– Potato crop in 1845
• Bubonic plague
– Fourteenth century
– Current global

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