Population Ecology

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Population: A group of individuals of a given species that live in a specific geographic area at a given time is known as population. Population include individuals of same species but may have different genetic makeup such as hair, eyes or skin color and size between themselves and other population.

The term “population ecology” is often interchangeably used with the term such as population biology or population dynamics. Population ecology is important in conservation biology especially in the development of population viability analysis. The human population is growing at a logistic rate and has been affecting the population of other species in return. Population ecology is the study of how the population sizes of a species change over time and space.

Control Methods of Population:

  • Population control may involve culling, translocation and manipulation of the reproductive capability.
    • Culling: It is the process of segregating organism from a group according to desired or undesired characteristics.
    • Translocation: It is a type of chromosomal abnormality.
    • Manipulation: skillful handling, controlling or using something or someone.
  • The growth of a population maybe limited by environmental factors such as food supply or predation.
  • The main biotic factors that affect population growth include-
    • Food: Both the quantity and quality of food are important. For example; snails can’t reproduce successfully in an environment low in calcium, no matter how much food there is because they need calcium for their growth.
    • Predator: As the prey population becomes larger it becomes easier for the predators to find prey. If the number of predators suddenly, falls, the prey species might rise.
    • Competitor: The organisms may require the same resources from the environment and reduce the growth of population. Competition for territory and for mates can drastically reduce the growth of individual organisms.
    • Parasites: These may cause disease and slow down the growth and reproduction rate of organisms within a population.
  • Important a biotic factors affecting growth are:
    • Temperature: Higher temperature speed up enzyme catalyzed reactions and increase growth.
    • Oxygen availability: It affects the rate of energy production by respiration.
    • Light availability: For photosynthesis light may also control breeding cycles in animals and plants.
    • Toxins and pollutants: Tissues growth can be reduced by the presence of pollutant like sulphur dioxide (SO2) and toxins like oestrogen.

Methods of Population Planning:

  • Higher taxation of parents who have too many children.
  • Abstinence: The practice of restraining oneself from indulging in something.
  • Reducing infant mortality so that parents do not need to have many children to ensure at least some would survive to adulthood.
  • Sterilization
  • Abortion
  • One child or two child policies
  • Family planning
  • Create small family role models
  • Migration from rural areas to urban areas
  • Emigration
  • Family planning: It is used to ensure that a women gets a child when she actually wants it. It reduces accidental pregnancies and ensures an controlled family size.
  • Raising level of education: Education, particularly that of woman, is very important in population control. It changes cultural beliefs and attitudes. It makes people liberal in approach.