Other Free Encyclopedias » Online Encyclopedia » Encyclopedia - Featured Articles » Contributed Topics from K-O

MacArthur, Robert Helmer

species biology occupy studied

(1930–72) Canadian–US ecologist: developed theories of population biology.

Born in Canada, MacArthur moved to the USA when he was 17 and studied mathematics at university, moving to Yale for his doctorate. However, in the second year of his PhD work he changed to zoology. After 2 years military service he returned to Yale and then concentrated on ecology. From 1965 until his early death from cancer he was professor of biology at Princeton. His first research was on five closely similar species of warbler which coexist in the New England spruce forest and which were thought to violate the competitive exclusion principle, ie that in ‘equilibrium communities’ no two species of the same animal occupy the same niche. He found that the birds tend to occupy different parts of the trees and that the principle was followed. From then on, he studied population biology and the strategies used to form multi-species communities. He devised ways to quantify ecological factors and to predict mathematically the level of diversity of bird species in a given habitat. His ideas have proved influential, including his division of animals into r and K species. The r species are opportunistic, with high reproductive rates, heavy mortality, short lives and rapid development. The K-strategists are larger, develop more slowly and are more stable; and he was able in 1962 to show that natural selection principles apply to both groups.

Macarty, Victor-Eugene(1821–1890) - Pianist, actor, composer, civil rights activist, Wins Fame and Praise, Chronology [next] [back] Mac, Bernie (1958–)

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or