What is an Ecology Community?

Jessica Ellis

An ecology community is a range or territory in which at least two populations or species share the land and resources. These areas are of particular interest to animal scientists and ecologists, as they create data about species interaction, the role of a species in context, and the overall behavior and health of ecosystems. Understanding an ecology community can give valuable information as to the health of different organisms and the future of species survival.

Jane Goodall studied chimps in an ecology community.
Jane Goodall studied chimps in an ecology community.

An ecology community can be examined and observed for many different reasons. If two or more separate social groups of a single species share territory, their interactions and behavior may be monitored, as with Jane Goodall's studies of the chimp populations in the Gombe Reserve. Scientists may also examine an ecology community to study predator/prey relationships between different species. Another important area is understanding how different species share use of the same resources, such as water reservoirs in desert ecosystems.

Jane Goodall studied interaction among chimp groups in the Gombe Reserve.
Jane Goodall studied interaction among chimp groups in the Gombe Reserve.

Animals are not the only organisms studied in an ecology community. The interactions and affects of one plant species on another can also be of great interest to botanists and environmental scientists. One area of particular interest is the effect of exotic species on an ecosystem. In many cases, native plants are unable to defend themselves against non-native plant species, leading to the devastation and possible extinction of native plants when new species are introduced. This is particularly evident throughout Australia, where countless local plants have fallen victim to voracious imports such as blackberries and prickly pear cactus.

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There are several possible criteria for which an ecology community can be examined. Scientists may look for evidence and examples of species interaction and how it affects each group. The manner in which populations interact may be positive for both, negative for one, neutral for both, or negative for both. In turn, how interaction occurs can affect population size and health, resource division, social and physical evolution, and biodiversity in the region.

By studying an ecology community, scientists can gain understanding about how ecosystems function and how likely they are to continue to survive. Unstable communities may arise from changes in resource availability, introduced species, hunting by humans, or new diseases. What becomes clear when examining ecology communities is that most species, plant and animal, are dependent on one another for survival. Food chains and distribution of natural resources are often the result of the success or failure of species interaction. By studying these interactions, science can provide advice and recommendations on how to preserve healthy communities and how to restore failing ones to a healthy balance.

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