Animal Population Ecology by J. Dempster (Auth.)

By J. Dempster (Auth.)

A few easy suggestions. assets. Social behaviour. Qualitative adjustments in members. common enemies. climate. special inhabitants reviews. Popolation cycles. inhabitants theories. purposes of inhabitants ecology

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36). For these species there is an optimum group size for the most efficient exploitation of their food. g. Browning, 1968). In practice this is probably unimportant in affecting population trends, since even very low populations can form optimum sized groups by aggregation. 4. Social Behaviour The role played in the natural control of animal populations by such phenomena as territorial behaviour and dominance hierarchies has been a subject of controversy for many years. Some ecologists believe that an animal can regulate its own numbers below the carrying capacity of its habitat by social behaviour of this sort.

At a higher density, some individuals may be forced to breed in less favourable areas. Krebs (1971) describes an example of this sort for great tits {Parus major). He showed that territorial behaviour limited the number of pairs breeding in his woodland, and forced some birds 4. Social Behaviour 35 to nest in the surrounding hedgerows, where reproductive success was lower. At an even higher density, all available territories may be occupied and some individuals are prevented from breeding, that is, there is a surplus of potential breeders.

Other studies have shown an overall density dependence in the mortality caused by predators. Hassell (1966) gives an example of this when quoting Varley and GradwelPs (1963) work on winter moth (Operophtera brumata). Pupal mortality in this moth is thought to be due mainly to predators, but several species are involved. There 53 6. Natural Enemies 10 0-5 0-5 10 15 20 2-5 Log. winter moth larval density Fig. 18 : Density-dependent mortality caused by predators on the pupae of winter moth (Varley and Gradwell, 1963; Hassell, 1966).

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