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Life Sciences - Ecology | The Inadequate Environment - Nitrogen and the Abundance of Animals

The Inadequate Environment

Nitrogen and the Abundance of Animals

White, Thomas C.R.

Softcover reprint of the original 1st ed. 1993, XIX, 425 pp. 41 figs.

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  • About this book

Ecology is characterized by a rapidly growing complexity and diversity of facts, aspects, examples, and observations. What is badly needed is the development of common patterns, of rules that, as in other sciences such as physics, can more generally explain the increasing complexity and variability we observe. Tom White, being one of the "seniors" in ecology, makes such an attempt in his book. the pattern he shows and explains with numerous examples from the entire animal kingdom is a universal hunger for nitrogen, a misery that drives the ecology of all organisms. He advocates that the awareness of this fundamental role that the limitation of nitrogen plays in the ecology of all organisms should be as a much part of each ecologis's intellectual equipment as is the awareness of the fact of evolution by means of natural selection. His claim is that not "enery" but "nitrogen" is the most limited "currency" in the animal world for the production and growth of their young.

Content Level » Research

Keywords » Ecology - Ernährung - Herbivores - Nitrogen - Nutrition - Pflanzenfresser - Population Ecology - Populationsökologie - Stickstoff - Ökologie

Related subjects » Animal Sciences - Ecology

Table of contents 

I: The Inadequate Environment.- 1. The Environment of All Organisms Is Inadequate.- 1.1 Natural Selection Is a Negative Process.- 1.2 Populations Press Against Limits of a Minimum Resource.- 1.3 What Essential Resource Is Most Likely to Be Limiting?.- 1.3.1 Nitrogen the Most Limiting Chemical.- 1.3.2 Nitrogen Limiting Plants.- 1.3.3 Nitrogen Limiting Animals.- 1.3.4 Energy Not Limiting.- 1.4 Competition a Consequence Not a Cause.- 1.4.1 Intra-specific Competition.- 1.4.2 Inter-specific Competition and “Competitive Exclusion”.- 1.5 Self-regulation Does Not Exist.- 2. Plants as Food for Herbivores.- 2.1 Why Is the World Green?.- 2.2 How Might Plants Be an Inadequate Source of Food?.- 2.3 How and When Might Nutrients in Plants Be Too Dilute?.- 2.4 When Is a Minimum Supply of Nitrogen Critically Important?.- 2.5 How Might Herbivores Counter the Plants’ Evolved Strategies?.- 2.6 How General Is Dilution of Nitrogen in Herbivore Food, and What Adaptations Have Evolved to Counter it?.- II: Herbivores in an Inadequate Environment.- 3. Insects.- 3.1 Flush and Senesence Feeders.- 3.1.1 Two Australian Psyllids on Eucalyptus.- 3.1.2 Two African Scale Insects on Californian Ice Plants.- 3.1.3 Two Aphids on Scots Pine.- 3.1.4 The Green Spruce Aphid in Scotland.- 3.1.5 Aphids on Sycamore, Apple, Wheat, and Alfalfa.- 3.1.6 Scale Insects on Euphorbia and Euonymus.- 3.1.7 A Leafhopper with Alternate Generations on Brambles and Oak.- 3.1.8 Two Species of Caterpillars Eating Oak Leaves.- 3.1.9 Two Species of Sawflies Mining in Birch Leaves.- 3.1.10 A Chewer and a Sucker on Poplar Leaves.- 3.2 Leaf-miners.- 3.2.1 The Switch from Flush to Senescence Feeding.- 3.2.2 Leaf-miners Which Induce “Green Islands” in Leaves.- 3.2.3 A New Zealand Weevil Mining in Fallen Beech Leaves.- 3.2.4 The American Holly Leaf-miner.- 3.3 Gall Makers.- 3.3.1 Physiological Galls.- 3.3.2 Nutritional Benefits of Galling.- 3.3.3 Adaptive Nature of Galls Debated Anew.- 3.3.4 Double-dipping: Prolonged Growth plus Hastened Senescence.- 3.3.5 Selection for High Nitrogen and Survival of the Young.- 3.3.6 Selection of Growing Tissues for Proliferation of Galls.- 3.4 Chewing Insects.- 3.4.1 Creaming-off as a Tactic to Increase Access to Nitrogen: White Butterflies on Crucifers.- 3.4.2 Early Instars Need More Nitrogen: Gypsy Moth on Artificial Diet.- 3.4.3 Illustrations from the Life Cycles of Economically Unimportant Butterflies.- 3.4.4 Further Examples from Forest Defoliators.- 3.4.5 Pests of Crops also Reveal the Need for Nitrogen.- 3.4.6 Examples from Biological Control of Weeds.- 3.4.7 Locusts and Grasshoppers.- 3.5 Sap-Sucking Insects.- 3.5.1 Aphids.- 3.5.2 Psyllids.- 3.5.3 Scale Insects.- 3.5.4 Planthoppers, Leafhoppers, and a Mirid.- 3.5.5 Xylem-feeders.- 3.6 Fruit Flies.- 3.7 Wood-eating Insects.- 3.7.1 The Key Role of Fungi: Increasing Nitrogen in Wood.- 3.7.2 Termites and Woodroaches: Gut Fauna, Coprophagy, and Recycled Nitrogen.- 3.7.3 Furniture and Longhorn Beetles.- 3.7.4 Woodwasps.- 3.7.5 Borers Which Do Not Ingest Wood.- 4. Crustaceans.- 4.1 Microcrustaceans.- 4.1.1 Distribution and Abundance of Food Limited by Nitrogen.- 4.1.2 Nitrogen Content of Food also Important.- 4.1.3 Microcrustaceans Feed Selectively for Nitrogen.- 4.1.4 Coprorhexy.- 4.2 Macrocrustaceans: Land Crabs, Lobsters, and Shrimps.- 4.3 Terrestrial Crustaceans — The Isopods.- 4.3.1 The Case of a Common Woodlouse.- 4.3.2 The Role of Microorganisms and Coprophagy.- 5. Molluscs.- 5.1 Some Examples of Freshwater Snails.- 5.2 Marine Limpets and the Flow of Nitrogen Through the Food Chain.- 5.3 Death of the Young, Selective Feeding, and Animal Protein in the Diet.- 5.4 Detritus Feeders Feed Selectively, and Depend upon Microorganisms and Coprophagy.- 5.5 Terrestrial Snails Live with the Same Constraints.- 5.6 Cannibalism by Young Snails Illustrates Shortage of Nitrogen.- 5.7 Teredo Shipworms Depend upon Microorganisms Which Fix Atmospheric Nitrogen.- 6. Mammals.- 6.1 Large Mammals.- 6.1.1 Feral Donkeys in Australia.- 6.1.2 Red Deer in Scotland.- 6.1.3 Antelope, Giraffe, and Greater Kudu in Africa.- 6.1.4 Deer in North America.- 6.1.5 The Giant Panda in China.- 6.1.6 Domestic Stock.- 6.2 Rodents.- 6.2.1 Squirrels.- 6.2.1.1 True Squirrels.- 6.2.1.2 Chipmunks and Ground Squirrels.- 6.2.2 Rats and Mice.- 6.2.2.1 The House Mouse.- 6.2.2.2 The Australian Smokey Mouse.- 6.2.2.3 The American White-Footed Mouse.- 6.2.2.4 American Woodrats.- 6.2.3 Voles.- 6.2.4 Supplemental Feeding of Small Rodents.- 6.2.5 Rabbits and Hares.- 6.2.5.1 The European Mountain Hare.- 6.2.5.2 The European Rabbit.- 6.2.5.3 The North American Snowshoe Hare.- 6.3 Primates.- 6.3.1 Colobine Monkeys.- 6.3.2 Cercopithecid Monkeys.- 6.3.3 Howler Monkeys.- 6.3.4 The Gorilla.- 6.4 Fruit and Flower Bats.- 6.5 Marsupials.- 6.5.1 The Koala.- 6.5.2 Possums and Gliders.- 6.5.3 The Habitat of Possums and Gliders.- 6.5.4 Kangaroos and Wallabies.- 7. Birds.- 7.1 Birds Eating Green Leaves.- 7.1.1 Geese in Europe and North America.- 7.1.2 European Grouse, Ptarmigan, and Capercaillie.- 7.1.3 North American Grouse.- 7.1.4 Partridges and Pheasants.- 7.1.5 Galliforms as Hindgut Fermenters.- 7.1.6 Changes in Abundance of Lagopus Species.- 7.1.7 The Takahe.- 7.1.8 The Hoatzin.- 7.2 Birds Eating Nectar and Fruit.- 7.3 Birds Eating Seeds.- 7.3.1 Columbids.- 7.3.2 African Queleas, European Finches, and the Great Tit.- 7.3.3 Darwin’s Galapagos Finches.- 7.3.4 The Australian Galah.- 8. Reptiles.- 8.1 The Giant Tortoises of Aldabra Atoll.- 8.2 The Green Turtle of the Bahamas Islands.- 8.3 The Marine and Terrestrial Iguanids of the Galapagos Islands.- 8.4 The Desert Iguanid of California.- 8.5 The Green Iguanid of Panama.- 9. Fish.- 9.1 The Carnivorous Young of Fish.- 9.2 Fish Which Eat Detritus.- 9.3 Fish Which Eat Algae.- 9.4 Gut Microbes and Coprophagy in Fish.- III: Survival in an Inadequate Environment.- 10. Strategies to Counter Shortage of Nitrogen.- 10.1 Strategy A: Synchronize the Life Cycle with Availability of Good Food.- 10.2 Strategy B: Concentrate or Prolong Availability of Nitrogen in Food.- 10.3 Strategy C: Eat More Food More Quickly, and Digest More Efficiently.- 10.4 Strategy D: Enlist the Help of Microorganisms.- 10.5 Strategy E: Supplement Plant Food with Animal Protein.- 10.6 Strategy F: Apportion and Concentrate the Limited Food to a Select Few.- 11. Territorial and Social Behaviours.- 11.1 Territorial Behaviour in Carnivores.- 11.1.1 Birds.- 11.1.2 Lizards.- 11.1.3 Insects.- 11.1.4 Spiders.- 11.2 Territorial Behaviour in Herbivores.- 11.2.1 Mammals.- 11.2.2 Birds.- 11.2.3 Insects.- 11.2.4 Fish.- 11.2.5 Molluscs.- 11.3 Surplus Young, Dispersal, and Philopatry.- 11.4 Social Structures and Dominance Hierarchies.- 12. Cannibalism.- 12.1 Cannibalism by Females Producing Young.- 12.2 Cannibalism by Growing Young.- 12.3 Cannibalism, Warfare, and Protein.- IV: Predators in an Inadequate Environment.- 13. Vertebrates.- 13.1 Lions, Lynx, and Feral Cats.- 13.2 Coyotes, Wolves, and Foxes.- 13.3 Stoats, Mice, and Seed Mast.- 13.4 Pelicans, Puffins, and Other Sea Birds.- 14. Invertebrates.- 14.1 Triclad Worms.- 14.2 Spiders and Scorpions.- 14.3 Ground Beetles, Tiger Beetles, and Ant-lions.- 14.4 Praying Mantids.- 14.5 Parasitoids, Parasites, and Diseases.- V: The Alleviation of an Inadequate Environment: Outbreaks.- 15. What is an Outbreak.- 15.1 Some Examples.- 15.2 What Causes Outbreaks?.- 15.3 The Paradox of Enrichment and “r” and “K” Strategists.- 16. The Interaction of Food, Prey, and Predators in Outbreaks.- 16.1 Bacteria and Protozoa.- 16.2 Rabbits, Foxes, Cats, and Dingoes.- 16.3 The Varying Response of Predators to Changes in Prey.- 16.4 A Natural Experiment: Guano-Algae-Limpets-Oystercatchers.- 16.5 A Thought Experiment: Hot Spots in a Box of Wadding.- 17. Cyclic Outbreaks.- 18. The Influence of Weather on the Generation of Outbreaks.- 18.1 Hot Spots Again: Outbreak Centres and Boundaries.- 18.2 Spruce Budworm Outbreaks Revisited.- 18.3 Patchy Environments and Metapopulations.- 18.4 The Role of Viral Diseases.- 18.5 The Link to Climatic Oscillations.- 18.6 Major Outbreaks Which Are Independent of the Weather.- References.

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