A generalist species is able to thrive in a wide variety of environmental conditions and can make use of a variety of different resources (for example, a heterotroph with a varied diet). A specialist species can thrive only in a narrow range of environmental conditions or has a limited diet. Most organisms do not all fit neatly into either group, however. Some species are highly specialized (the most extreme case being species that can only eat one specific type of food), others less so, and some can tolerate many different environments. In other words, there is a continuum from highly specialized to broadly generalist species.
Omnivores are usually generalists. Herbivores are often specialists, but those that eat a variety of plants may be considered generalists. A well-known example of a specialist animal is the Monophagous koala, which subsists almost entirely on eucalyptus leaves. The raccoon is a generalist because it has a natural range that includes most of North and Central America, and it is omnivorous, eating berries, insects such as butterflies, eggs, and various small animals.
The distinction between generalists and specialists is not limited to animals. For example, some plants require a narrow range of temperatures, soil conditions and precipitation to survive while others can tolerate a broader range of conditions. A cactus could be considered a specialist species. It will die during winters at high latitudes or if it receives too much water.
When body weight is controlled for, specialist feeders such as insectivores and frugivores have larger home ranges than generalists like some folivores (leaf eaters). Because their food source is less abundant, they need a bigger area for foraging.An example comes from the research of Tim Clutton-Brock, who found that the black and white colobus, a folivore generalist, needs a home range of only 15 ha. On the other hand, the more specialized red colobus monkey has a home range of 70 ha, which it requires to find patchy shoots, flowers and fruit.
When environmental conditions change, generalists are able to adapt, but specialists tend to fall victim to extinction much more easily. [ citation needed ] For example, a fish and its parasites are in an evolutionary arms race, a form of co-evolution, in which the fish constantly develops defenses against the parasite, while the parasite in turn evolves adaptations to cope with the specific defenses of its host. This tends to drive the speciation of more specialized species provided conditions remain relatively stable. This involves niche partitioning as new species are formed, and biodiversity is increased.For example, if a species of fish were to go extinct, any specialist parasites would also face extinction. On the other hand, a species with a highly specialized ecological niche is more effective at competing with other organisms.
|A generalist species is a species that generally has a wide range of things in their diets as well as a relatively large area of habitat.||A specialist species is the opposite of the generalist in the fact that specialists require a very certain type of food or can only eat a very small range of things, and usually has a very specific list of things needed in its habitat.|
|Raccoons are a very good example of a generalist omnivore because they eat a wide variety of things and have a very large area in which they live.||Specialist species are generally not omnivores because they only eat a specific thing or a few specific things.|
|Coyote is a great example of a generalist carnivore because they eat pretty much anything with meat on its bones that they can kill or find somewhere in the woods they also live in a very large area.||The Venus flytrap is a good example of a specialist carnivore because they can't move at all to hunt for food and they can only consume insects and small frogs and lizards that walk on their mouth/trap.|
|The whitetail deer is an example of a herbivore generalist because they have the biggest distribution than any other large mammal in North America they also are able to eat a pretty wide variety of plants and trees.||Pandas are an excellent example of a herbivore specialist because they have a specific niche that they live in and their diet consists only of bamboo.|
|A generalist is decided on the area in which they live and what their diet consists of; generalists usually aren't picky eaters, and can eat a wide variety of things, as well as having a large area in which they inhabit.||Specialists are also decided in the same way and with the same features what they eat and how big of an area they inhabit; specialists usually do not eat a wide variety of things and do not inhabit a big area.|
Predation is a biological interaction where one organism, the predator, kills and eats another organism, its prey. It is one of a family of common feeding behaviours that includes parasitism and micropredation and parasitoidism. It is distinct from scavenging on dead prey, though many predators also scavenge; it overlaps with herbivory, as seed predators and destructive frugivores are predators.
In ecology, a niche is the match of a species to a specific environmental condition. It describes how an organism or population responds to the distribution of resources and competitors and how it in turn alters those same factors. "The type and number of variables comprising the dimensions of an environmental niche vary from one species to another [and] the relative importance of particular environmental variables for a species may vary according to the geographic and biotic contexts".
Commensalism is a long-term biological interaction (symbiosis) in which members of one species gain benefits while those of the other species neither benefit nor are harmed. This is in contrast with mutualism, in which both organisms benefit from each other; amensalism, where one is harmed while the other is unaffected; and parasitism, where one is harmed and the other benefits. The commensal may obtain nutrients, shelter, support, or locomotion from the host species, which is substantially unaffected. The commensal relation is often between a larger host and a smaller commensal; the host organism is unmodified, whereas the commensal species may show great structural adaptation consistent with its habits, as in the remoras that ride attached to sharks and other fishes. Remoras feed on their hosts' fecal matter, while pilot fish feed on the leftovers of their hosts' meals. Numerous birds perch on bodies of large mammal herbivores or feed on the insects turned up by grazing mammals.
In biology and medicine, a host is an organism that harbours a parasitic, a mutualistic, or a commensalist guest (symbiont). The guest is typically provided with nourishment and shelter. Examples include animals playing host to parasitic worms, cells harbouring pathogenic (disease-causing) viruses, a bean plant hosting mutualistic (helpful) nitrogen-fixing bacteria. More specifically in botany, a host plant supplies food resources to micropredators, which have an evolutionarily stable relationship with their hosts similar to ectoparasitism. The host range is the collection of hosts that an organism can use as a partner.
Urban ecology is the scientific study of the relation of living organisms with each other and their surroundings in the context of an urban environment. The urban environment refers to environments dominated by high-density residential and commercial buildings, paved surfaces, and other urban-related factors that create a unique landscape dissimilar to most previously studied environments in the field of ecology. The goal of urban ecology is to achieve a balance between human culture and the natural environment.
This glossary of ecology is a list of definitions of terms and concepts in ecology and related fields. For more specific definitions from other glossaries related to ecology, see Glossary of biology, Glossary of evolutionary biology, and Glossary of environmental science.
Parasitology is the study of parasites, their hosts, and the relationship between them. As a biological discipline, the scope of parasitology is not determined by the organism or environment in question but by their way of life. This means it forms a synthesis of other disciplines, and draws on techniques from fields such as cell biology, bioinformatics, biochemistry, molecular biology, immunology, genetics, evolution and ecology.
The mantled guereza, also known simply as the guereza, the eastern black-and-white colobus, or the Abyssinian black-and-white colobus, is a black-and-white colobus, a type of Old World monkey. It is native to much of west central and east Africa, including Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Chad. The species consists of several subspecies that differ in appearance. It has a distinctive appearance, which is alluded to in its name; the long white fringes of hair that run along each side of its black trunk are known as a mantle. Its face is framed with white hair and it has a large white tail tuft.
Optimal foraging theory (OFT) is a behavioral ecology model that helps predict how an animal behaves when searching for food. Although obtaining food provides the animal with energy, searching for and capturing the food require both energy and time. To maximize fitness, an animal adopts a foraging strategy that provides the most benefit (energy) for the lowest cost, maximizing the net energy gained. OFT helps predict the best strategy that an animal can use to achieve this goal.
In ecology, a disturbance is a temporary change in environmental conditions that causes a pronounced change in an ecosystem. Disturbances often act quickly and with great effect, to alter the physical structure or arrangement of biotic and abiotic elements. A disturbance can also occur over a long period of time and can impact the biodiversity within an ecosystem.
Cooperative breeding is a social system characterized by alloparental care: offspring receive care not only from their parents, but also from additional group members, often called helpers. Cooperative breeding encompasses a wide variety of group structures, from a breeding pair with helpers that are offspring from a previous season, to groups with multiple breeding males and females (polygynandry) and helpers that are the adult offspring of some but not all of the breeders in the group, to groups in which helpers sometimes achieve co-breeding status by producing their own offspring as part of the group's brood. Cooperative breeding occurs across taxonomic groups including birds, mammals, fish, and insects.
In ecology, a community is a group or association of populations of two or more different species occupying the same geographical area at the same time, also known as a biocoenosis. The term community has a variety of uses. In its simplest form it refers to groups of organisms in a specific place or time, for example, "the fish community of Lake Ontario before industrialization".
An ecological cascade effect is a series of secondary extinctions that are triggered by the primary extinction of a key species in an ecosystem. Secondary extinctions are likely to occur when the threatened species are: dependent on a few specific food sources, mutualistic, or forced to coexist with an invasive species that is introduced to the ecosystem. Species introductions to a foreign ecosystem can often devastate entire communities, and even entire ecosystems. These exotic species monopolize the ecosystem's resources, and since they have no natural predators to decrease their growth, they are able to increase indefinitely. Olsen et al. showed that exotic species have caused lake and estuary ecosystems to go through cascade effects due to loss of algae, crayfish, mollusks, fish, amphibians, and birds. However, the principal cause of cascade effects is the loss of top predators as the key species. As a result of this loss, a dramatic increase of prey species occurs. The prey is then able to overexploit its own food resources, until the population numbers decrease in abundance, which can lead to extinction. When the prey's food resources disappear, they starve and may go extinct as well. If the prey species is herbivorous, then their initial release and exploitation of the plants may result in a loss of plant biodiversity in the area. If other organisms in the ecosystem also depend upon these plants as food resources, then these species may go extinct as well. An example of the cascade effect caused by the loss of a top predator is apparent in tropical forests. When hunters cause local extinctions of top predators, the predators' prey's population numbers increase, causing an overexploitation of a food resource and a cascade effect of species loss. Recent studies have been performed on approaches to mitigate extinction cascades in food-web networks.
Cleaner fish are fish that show a specialist feeding strategy by providing a service to other species, referred to as clients, by removing dead skin, ectoparasites, and infected tissue from the surface or gill chambers. This example of cleaning symbiosis represents mutualism and cooperation behaviour, an ecological interaction that benefits both parties involved. However, the cleaner fish may consume mucus or tissue, thus creating a form of parasitism called cheating. The client animals are typically fish of a different species, but can also be aquatic reptiles, mammals, or octopuses. A wide variety of fish including wrasse, cichlids, catfish, pipefish, lumpsuckers, and gobies display cleaning behaviors across the globe in fresh, brackish, and marine waters but specifically concentrated in the tropics due to high parasite density. Similar behavior is found in other groups of animals, such as cleaner shrimps.
In ecology, the occupancy–abundance (O–A) relationship is the relationship between the abundance of species and the size of their ranges within a region. This relationship is perhaps one of the most well-documented relationships in macroecology, and applies both intra- and interspecifically. In most cases, the O–A relationship is a positive relationship. Although an O–A relationship would be expected, given that a species colonizing a region must pass through the origin and could reach some theoretical maximum abundance and distribution, the relationship described here is somewhat more substantial, in that observed changes in range are associated with greater-than-proportional changes in abundance. Although this relationship appears to be pervasive, and has important implications for the conservation of endangered species, the mechanism(s) underlying it remain poorly understood
Timothy Hugh Clutton-Brock is a British zoologist known for his comparative studies of the behavioural ecology of mammals, particularly red deer and meerkats.
Like humans and other animals, fish suffer from diseases and parasites. Fish defences against disease are specific and non-specific. Non-specific defences include skin and scales, as well as the mucus layer secreted by the epidermis that traps microorganisms and inhibits their growth. If pathogens breach these defences, fish can develop inflammatory responses that increase the flow of blood to infected areas and deliver white blood cells that attempt to destroy the pathogens.
Ecomorphology or ecological morphology is the study of the relationship between the ecological role of an individual and its morphological adaptations. The term "morphological" here is in the anatomical context. Both the morphology and ecology exhibited by an organism are directly or indirectly influenced by their environment, and ecomorphology aims to identify the differences Current research places emphasis on linking morphology and ecological niche by measuring the performance of traits associated behaviours, and fitness outcomes of the relationships.
Climate change has a significant direct effect on terrestrial animals, by being a major driver of the processes of speciation and extinction. The best known example of this is the Carboniferous rainforest collapse, which occurred 350 million years ago. This event decimated amphibian populations and spurred on the evolution of reptiles. In general, climate change affects animals and birdlife in various different ways. Birds lay their eggs earlier than usual in the year, plants bloom earlier and mammals come out of their hibernation state earlier.