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How human disturbance can alter habitats, routines of animals

GS Paper 3

Syllabus: Ecology


Source: Indian Express, DTE

Context: A new finding on animal behaviours


An animal must be at the right place, at the right time, to avoid predators, find food, and reproduce successfully

  • As an analogy: The interactions between the animals in a given ecosystem are like a theatrical production. For the production to be a success, each actor has to be on stage, in the right place, and they must act and deliver their lines at the right time.



  • As per the new study, human activities might disturb these ecological interactions and increase interspecies encounters.
  • Impact of farms: Wild animals of different species were more likely to come to human-altered landscapes, like farms than in more undisturbed locations, such as national forests.
  • Frequent interaction can lead to intensifying competition for resources or increasing the risk of interspecies disease transmission.
  • Even when the animals do not come face-to-face, simply hearing or smelling a predator can have “dramatic effects” on the behaviours of prey species



What is an ecological niche?

In ecology, the term “niche” describes the role an organism plays in a community.


What is an Ecosystem?


In another study (DTE), it has been found that:

  • Ants may be unable to adapt to global warming, leaving them highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
  • The insects are cold-blooded creatures, also called ectotherms. Their body temperatures depend on external sources like sunlight. Humans (endotherms), on the other hand, maintain their body temperature without relying on the environment.

Importance of Ants:

  • Ants are often called “ecosystem’s engineers”. These insects move the soil during nest-building and foraging, affecting the level of nutrients in it.

Image Credit: Earth Reminder


Interesting facts about Ants

Images credit: Green Humor

Insta Links


Mains Links

Q. Conflict between people and animals is one of the main threats to the continued survival of many species. Analyze the causes behind rising cases of man-animal conflict. (15M)


Prelims Links

Which one of the following terms describes not only the physical space occupied by an organism but also its functional role in the community of organisms? (UPSC 2013)

(a) Ecotone

(b) Ecological niche

(c) Habitat

(d) Home range

Answer: B


Which one of the following is the best description of the term ‘ecosystem’? (UPSC 2015)

(a) A community of organisms interacting with one another

(b) That part of the Earth which is inhabited by living organisms

(c) A community of organisms together with the environment in which they live

(d) The flora and fauna of a geographical area


Answer: C