07 December 2009


Ecology is a whole other course. I will just briefly touch upon several topics of interest. I've skirted "hard" ecology (although some students think I teach ornithology in ecology). In general, bird populations have several characteristics a) numbers are usually stable and fluctuate only within certain limits; b) potential rate of increase is high but seldom realized; and c) number of individuals depends on LIMITING RESOURCES.

MAIN FACTORS AFFECTING POPULATION SIZE are mortality and natality and immigration and emigration (hard to demonstrate). Mortality is studied by means of life tables. Birds are rather unique since the tables show that mortality is not correlated with age -- in other words, no matter what the age of a bird is, it is about equally liable to die.

Controversy exists about how populations are regulated. Is the regulation density dependent or independent? Density dependent factors, especially food, seems to be most important (game management would come in here if one was to cover it).

Black-billed Cuckoo

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