The Equilibrium Theory Of Island Biogeography

1646 words - 7 pages

Examine critically the Equilibrium Theory of island biogeography. In your answer you are expected to critique its validity and practical usefulness

An Island is undoubtfully an appealing study unit. It is less complex than continents or oceans, a visibly distinct object that can be labelled with a title and its resident populations identified thereby (MacArthur RH, Wilson EO, 1967). From a perspective of biogeographical science, MacArthur and Wilson proceed to state that islands are the first units an individual can discover, investigate and begin to understand. This essay thoroughly discusses the equilibrium theory of island biogeography, and critiques its quality and practical uses ...view middle of the document...

For example, the introduction of more predators in an ecosystem can stabilise the plant-eating organisms. Therefore it would be difficult to succeed with such tests on main lands. Similarly the pest management systems are repeatedly tried out on islands simply because side effects are easily seen on simplified insular communities. The test of the disruption of population through the use of a mollusciode to control the snail transmitting the cattle liver-fluke was done on Shapinsay Island, in the Orkneys (Daniel Simberloff, 1974). From an evolutionary point of view, the significance of insular depaurization has always been to allow formations which would’ve been completely removed through different kinds of interactions in a richer biota. The process of depaurization is usually not by chance but rather the organisms that disperse inadequately are differentially not present, leading to the biotas of islands not to be “harmonious” in the composition.

10 years ago, Preston in 1962 and Wilson and MacArthur in 1963 and 1967 changed the biogeography discipline with an assumption that the biota on island is a constantly changing equilibrium between coming in of new organisms into an island and the complete wipe out of species that are present already.The number of species would be constant over the ecological time. This equilibrium hypothesis has partially been the cause and the result of an ever-growing emphasis on extinction as an important event and the individual and the species of the species of the population being less important.
MacArthur and Wilson used a combination of several scientific disciplines such as population biology, mathematical modelling, statistics and geography to come up with an approach to comprehend the process that affect the global flora and fauna. The two authors start their book with the testing of a biogeographic principle that became understandable as scientists first began to list the species of plants and animals found on one island. The principle implies that the larger the area of the island, the more species it contains. That is the population of species increase with the area of the island systematically. According to Alan Strahler, and Arthur Strahler (1967) this finding is genuinely true, whether studying a number of lists of living organisms or even specifically those within a particular taxonomic class. The following equations have been considered the most appropriate for observations in many instances: S=Ca^2 or logS=zlogA c, where S represents the species diversity, A the area and c the constants which are positive. In most cases c represents the influence of geographical differenced on the diversity of species and theoretically ‘z’ has a value of 0.263 and often differs between 0.18 and 0.35. Three hypotheses were considered to for the relationship between the population and area of its habitat. Three hypotheses were put forward after claims that the given equation was not explaining the theory properly....

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