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Learning Objectives

Lesson #8-- Insect Ecology


  1. Distinguish between monophagy, oligophagy, and polyphagy. Explain the ecological significance of feeding guilds in phytophagous insects. List two ways plants benefit from phytophagy and two ways they are harmed by it.
  2. Distinguish between predators, parasites, parasitoids, and hyperparasitoids.
  3. Identify at least three different categories of saprophagous insects and give examples of each.  Describe the ecological benefits of saprophagy.
  4. Describe at least five physiological adaptations that allow insects to survive unfavorable climatic conditions and/or synchronize their life cycle with seasonal changes of the environment.
  5. Describe at least five different ways insects may defend themselves against predators and parasites.
  6. Explain how primary and secondary ecological events affect population growth.  Distinguish between density-dependent and density-independent factors and give examples of each.
  7. Distinguish between interspecific and intraspecific competition.  Explain how natural selection may act to alter the competitive dynamics between two or more populations.  Describe how populations may benefit from symbiotic associations.
  8. Given age-specific mortality data, construct and interpret a life table.  Calculate the replacement rate (R) and explain the significance of this parameter.
  9. Compare and contrast linear, exponential, and logistic growth curves.  Explain how the environmental carrying capacity sets limits on population growth.
  10. Explain how ambient temperature effects the growth rate of poikilothermic individuals and populations.  Use developmental threshold and degree-day models to calculate insect development time.