Clumped Dispersion Pattern: Definition & Explanation

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  • 0:00 Types of Dispersion Patterns
  • 1:25 Uneven Nutrients and Resources
  • 2:15 Social Interactions
  • 2:45 No Dispersal
  • 3:30 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Angela Lynn Swafford

Lynn has a BS and MS in biology and has taught many college biology courses.

This lesson differentiates among three types of dispersion patterns, focusing specifically on clumped dispersion. You'll learn what causes clumped dispersion and explore some examples.

Types of Dispersion Patterns

If you're hiking through a forest, you might notice that some species of plants - like certain flowers or bushes - seem evenly spaced, while others - like wild mushrooms - are clustered together in only certain parts of the habitat.

Within any given plant or animal population, or group of individuals of the same species living in the same area, individuals can be spaced in different ways called dispersion patterns. There are three types of dispersion patterns.

Clumped dispersion is when individuals in a population are clustered together, creating some patches with many individuals and some patches with no individuals. In uniform dispersion, individuals are spaced evenly throughout an area. And in random dispersion, individuals are arranged without any apparent pattern.

In natural populations, random dispersion is rare, while clumped dispersion, which we'll focus on in this lesson, is the most common pattern.

Clumped dispersion is often due to an uneven distribution of nutrients or other resources in the environment. It can also be caused by social interactions between individuals. Additionally, in organisms that don't move, such as plants, offspring might be very close to their parents and show clumped dispersion patterns. Let's further examine each of these three reasons for clumped dispersion.

Uneven Nutrients and Resources

Within a single habitat, some areas are more ideal to live in than others because they have more food, water, sunlight, or other resources. This can cause many individuals of a population to accumulate in this ideal location. For example, you might find a patch of mushrooms growing on an old rotting log but nowhere else in a forest. This is because dark, moist, decaying places provide everything a mushroom needs to grow.

Another example of clumped dispersion due to uneven resources is when you see many turtles hanging out on a log in or near a pond. All turtles in the pond need to get out of the water and warm up under the sun, and the uneven distribution of logs in the pond causes them to cluster together.

Social Interactions

Many animals purposely form groups to enhance their survival. For example, mammals such as deer and buffalo form protective herds because it's much easier for predators to attack a lone animal than a large group. Similarly, many fish form schools, and birds form flocks. Carnivores like wolves and lions form packs to increase their hunting efficiency. Packs, herds, flocks, and schools all represent clumped dispersion patterns.

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