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Ecomorphology: Field assessment of morphological and behavioral features of animals in relation to their ecology

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Ecomorphology: Field assessment of morphological and behavioral features of animals in relation to their ecology

Results

Species

Behavior/Morphological feature

Suggested function

Beetle (black)

Wandering under leaf litter

Foraging

Bird (brown)

Hopping from branch to branch in large holly bush

Looking for insects

Blue tit

Within large oak tree, from branch to branch, nibbling at thin branches

Looking for and eating insects

Crow

Beak opened wide, cawing over the trees

Calling to inform others of food, mouth wide to project sound

Fireant

Many walking amongst leaf litter together

Foraging for food, navigating

Antennae reaching out

Sharp mandibles

Get grip of prey/predator

Sting on abdomen

Inject venom

Magpie

On ground, hopping from one place to another

Looking for food

Turning head from left to right

Turning over leaves

Mosquito

Hovering on edge of woodland next to stream

Stagnant water - laying down eggs/larvae?

Hovering around humans

Looking for blood to suck

Robin

Flitting from branch to branch

Looking for food on the ground

Spider (orange)

Sitting on the edge of a web at base of oak tree

Web for catching prey

Long legs

Legs to catch prey

Brightly colored

A warning to predators?

Spider (yellow)

Sitting on the edge of a web spread between two branches high off the ground

In leaves, higher probability of catching other/more prey than from the ground

Spin around insect

Web production for wrapping prey

Squirrel

Climbing from the ground into an oak tree

Flee from danger, look for food

Leg propels it upward

Tail moves about

Balance

White moth

Flying around understory

Flying to find food

Wood pigeon

Flying through canopy

Searching for food

Flying away from humans

Fleeing from danger

Woodlice

Under rotting branch

Feeding

Many legs

Ease of movement over soft, unstable surface

From the results, it can be seen that the animals found in the local environment here at the University of Kent do have various physiological and behavioral adaptations that help them to find food, travel, and avoid danger.

Discussion

Morphologically, the species are physiologically adapted to interact with certain behavior. For example, the spiders are quite crafty in their way of standing by their webs and not directly on them, so that their prey does not notice of its bright color, which in turn is adapted for warding off predators, as enemies associate loud colors such as yellow and orange to the colors of poisonous berries (Cambridge University Press 2006, 266). They are able to eat what they want, but avoid being eaten themselves. Also, the squirrels hind legs are very muscular for its size, thus provides a high amount of propulsive force when it finds itself in danger.

Another example is the crow that opens its beak wide open to project its calls, possibly to informing its kind where food can be found. This is an example of efficient behavior for foraging. Communication between individuals, such as in the fire ant, is also helpful in navigation and food foraging as a greater number of individuals looking out for food means spreading over a larger area of land, a higher probability of finding food, and yielding a greater amount of food altogether for the colony.

The animals altogether as an ecological system behave rather efficiently to achieve an overall, utilitarian good of the many. Each animal has its own place to feed, from the wood pigeon that flutters around the canopy, to the mosquito that hovers around larger, blood-circulating organisms, from the yellow spider that sets up webs between two high branches, to the woodlice and beetles that feed off dead matter under leaf litter, there is little competition as all the carnivores, frugivores, nucivores, folivores, detritivores, insectivores and herbivores have their own place in the ecosystem.

Bibliography

Cambridge University Press. Biological Science 1 & 2 (Third Edition). Edited by R. Soper, D. J. Taylor, N. P. O. Green and G. W. Stout. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

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