Izzy’s word of the day: Ecology
Ecology: How an organism relates to its environment
I used to have puzzles that formed the outline of an animal but with a nature scene within the shape. For example, one puzzle was in the shape of a wolf, and the scene was of a wolf pack in a snowy landscape. When I think of ecology, I think of these puzzles. Ecology looks at an organism from all angles, and then considers how that organism interacts in its environment. Let’s look closely at the Blakiston’s Fish Owl.
The Blakiston’s Fish Owl is the largest owl still living today. With its two meter long wing span, the Blakiston’s Fish Owl flies deep within the forests of Siberia, China and Japan. Its name gives away what it hunts: fish. This owl will also feeds on frogs and crustaceans.
Lets take a step back and consider how the Blakiston’s Fish Owl fits in among its surroundings.
The Blakiston’s Fish Owl takes up residence near rivers where they hunt. They rely on old trees that are big enough for them to take shelter in. One of the animals on the owl’s dinner menu is salmon. Salmon also relies on the old trees. Some of these trees die and fall into the river. The obstruction displaces the water flow and creates micro habitats that salmon need at different stages of their life cycle. Each aspect in this environment relates to one another. If the trees were cut, the owl wouldn’t have shelter. If the trees were cleared from the river, the salmon wouldn’t have the right conditions to grow. If one animal disappears, the other is affected.
There are many branches of ecology that examine different aspects along the spectrum. Population ecology looks at one species. Evolutionary ecology considers adaptation. And conservation ecology tries to understand how to prevent an animal from going extinct.
The Blakiston’s Fish Owl is endangered. Logging and development encroach on the owl’s habitat. In order to help conserve this species, there needs to be an understanding its ecology.
For more information check out the Blakiston’s Fish Owl Project