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ENVI 170 Ecology And The Environment

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ENVI 170 Ecology And The Environment

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Course Code: ENVI170
University: Macalester College

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Country: United States


Explain the intermediate disturbance hypothesis as it relates to successional stages and species diversity.
Explain the difference between the organismal concept of communities and the individualistic continuum concept. Which do you think more accurately describes real communities, and why?


Intermediate Disturbance Hypothesis Relating To Successional Stages and Species Diversity
Intermediate Disturbance Theory (IDH) theory describes relationship between the ecological disturbance and ecological diversity reflects that diversity of local species is maximum when there is neither low nor high ecological disturbance. When the disturbance level is too high, because of forest fires or deforestation, there is a risk of extinction of species. At low disturbance zone some species will compete among each other resulting in competitive exclusion. Diversity is thus maximum at intermediate level of disturbance because whatever specie  grew at  primitive as well as  current  succession stages  can exist together (Wilkinson, 1999; Catford et al., 2012).
The Organismal Concept and the Individualistic  Concept
Interactions among species in a community can have both positive and negative influences on species populations. We have to analyse the importance of these interactions in determining community structure. There are two major views organismal concept and individualistic or continuum concept – the difference between the concepts is the importance of interactions in the structuring of communities.
The organismal theory (Yarranton, 1967) is based on clusters or groups of species repeatedly associated together representing an integral component of the whole. The main points under this concept are

Transition between different communities are less pronounced with few species in common (Ecotones).
Suggests a common evolutional history and similar foundational response and tolerances for component species.
To make up associations, Mutualism and coevolution play very important roles among the species.

The individualistic or continuum theory tells that species are distributed independently with exception of certain interactions while other species would be considered as other environmental variable (Gleason, 1926).Relationship among co-existing species is due to similarities in their requirements and tolerances, not to strong interactions or common evolutionary history..
Catford, J. A., Daehler, C. C., Murphy, H. T., Sheppard, A. W., Hardesty, B. D., Westcott, D. A.,  
Rejmánek, M., Bellingham, P.J., Pergl, J., Horvitz, C.C. & Hulme, P.E. (2012). The
intermediate disturbance hypothesis and plant invasions: Implications for species richness and
management. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics, 14(3), 231-241.
Gleason, H. A. (1926). The individualistic concept of the plant association. Bulletin of the Torrey
botanical club, 7-26.
Wilkinson, D. M. (1999). The disturbing history of intermediate disturbance. Oikos, 145-147.
Yarranton, G. A. (1967). Organismal and individualistic concepts and the choice of methods of
vegetation analysis. Vegetatio, 15(2), 113-116.

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