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Shannon Burleson

on 20 May 2015

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Transcript of Ecology

What is Ecology?
Ecology: the study of how living things interact with one another their environment (ecosystems)

: the physical environment in which a species lives in and is adapted to
: the role of a species in its ecosystem.
Includes how it obtains energy, how it passes on that energy, and how it recycles nutrients.
Ecosystems have biotic and abiotic factors
parts of an ecosystem
Abiotic factors affect organisms in the ecosystem
Examples: air currents, temperature, moisture, sunlight, soil
parts of an ecosystem
Biotic factors affect each other directly or indirectly in the ecosystem
Examples: Animals, plants, bacteria, parasites, etc.
: Levels of Organization
Living Thing
Group of organisms of the same species living in an area
Groups of different populations (plants and animals) interacting in an area
All of the living (biotic) and non living (abiotic) factors in an area
Aquatic and Terrestrial
Land, air, water - anywhere life is found
Biome: Area of similar climatic conditions (interchangeable with ecosystem)
Dependent on climate - temperature and amount of rainfall
Characterized by different vegetation and animals
2 Types:

Land Biomes

Temperate Deciduous Forest
Tropical Rainforest

Water Biomes

Trophic Levels & Ecological Pyramids
4 Levels
1. Producer: plants and algae.
2. Primary Consumer (C1): eats producers
3. Secondary Consumer (C2): eats primary consumers
4. Tertiary Consumer (C3): eats secondary consumers
*Decomposers: decompose dead and decaying matter at all levels & recycle nutrients
Autotrophs: make chemical energy from the sun
Heterotrophs: consume other organisms for energy
Herbivores: plants
Carnivores: meat
Omnivores: both
Decomposers: dead matter
Trophic Levels: the different positions organisms occupy in a food chain
Ecological Pyramids: Characteristics of ecosystems are often represented through pyramids
1. Trophic Levels
2. Biomass: total mass of organisms at a trophic level.
3. Number of Organisms
4. Available Energy
Energy Transfer
The main input of energy in an ecosystem is from the sun which is turned into usable energy by producers
Only 10% of energy is passed on to the next trophic level
90% is either used or lost as heat
Food Chains & Food Webs
Food Chain
: Single pathway through which energy and matter flow through an ecosystem
more simple than what exists in nature
Food Web
: multiple pathways through which energy and matter flow through an ecosystem
more complex (better reflection of what actually exists in nature)
Shows that most organisms eat and are eaten by more than one organism (exist in multiple food chains)
*Arrow from consumer to what is being eaten (shows the flow of energy)
Interactions Between Organisms & the Environment
Population Dynamics
Nutrient Cycles
Symbiosis: Long term relationship between two or more biological species
3 Types:
1. Commensalism
1 species benefits while the other is unaffected
+ , 0
Ex. Clownfish living in coral. The coral provides protection or the clownfish but remains unaffected
2. Mutualism
Both species benefit
+ , +
Ex. Oxpecker bird and rhinos/zebras. The bird eats ticks and other parasites off the rhino or zebra.
3. Parasitism
One species benefits while the other is harmed or negatively affected
+ , -
Ex. Fleas and ticks on other animals
The fitness of one organism or species is lower due to the presence of another
: Organisms of different species competing for the same resource
: Organisms of the same species competing for the same resource
Competition is the result of limited resources
One organism (predator) eats another organism (prey) as food
Predator/prey exist in a cyclic relationship
As one increases, the other decreases.

1. Population: group of organisms of the same species in the same area
2. Population Size: Number of individuals in a population
3. Population Density: average number of individuals in a population per unit of area
4. Population Growth: change in the size of a population over time
5. Growth Rate: birth (b) and death(d) rate
Actual Equation:
r = (b+i) - (d+e)
Population Growth
J Curves: under ideal conditions, a
population would grow exponentially
S Curves: under normal, restricted conditions, populations show logistic growth.
Grows until it reaches a carrying capacity (k)

Carrying Capacity: maximum # of organisms of a species the enviornment can sustain indefinitely with available resources
Survivorship Curves: Shows the number of individuals surviving at each age
Type 1: high juvenile survival
Type 2: death is at equal rates
Type 3: low juvenile survival
Life Patterns: R and K Selected Species
Shows traits including parental investment, number of offspring, and development of offspring
Live in unpredictable or unstable environments
Short gestation
Little parental investment
Small body size
Large number of offspring
Short maturation time
Short life expectancy
Shows types III survivorship
Stable environments
Longer gestation
High parental investment
Larger body size
Small number of offspring
Long maturation time
Long life expectancy
Shows types I and II survivorship
Density-Dependent Factors: Affect depends on the size of the population
Ex. Disease, competition, predation (mostly biotic)
Density-Independent Factors: Affect does not depend on the size of the population
Ex. Temperature, storms (mostly abiotic)
Human Population
Human population is growing at an exponential rate
Current World Population: Over 7.1 Billion
-Growing by more than 200,000 people a day
Current US Population: Over 3.1 Million
Fertility Rate by Country
-Reached 7 Billion in October of 2011
-Took only 12 years to add 1 billion people
-Expected to reach over 9 billion by 2050
Population Pyramids: Bar graph that shows the percent of the population by sex and age
*When an organism is an omnivore, it can be a C1 and C2
Ecological Succession: Change in the number and type of species in an area over time
2 Types: Primary and Secondary
The first species to colonize are called
pioneer species
Primary Succession
Occurs in an area that has never been colonized before.
Generally happens on exposed bare rock
Main events that can lead to primary succession:
Lava flow hardens into bare rock
A glacier retreats/melts and exposes bare rock
A landslide uncovers bare rock
Pioneer Species:
Ex. Lichen, Bacteria
Environmental Event
Occurs in a once inhabited area that was disturbed/destroyed
Happens much faster than primary because soil is already in place
Events that can lead to secondary succession:
Clear cutting
Pioneer Species:
Ex. Grasses, birch trees
Secondary Succession
3% of global water is freshwater
Disease outbreaks
Waste management
Climate Change
Natural Resources
Human Environmental Impact
Natural Resources
Renewable: resources that can be naturally replenished as quickly as humans use them
Examples: Wind, Sunlight, Hydropower
Non-Renewable: resources that cannot be naturally replenished in our lifetime, or ever
Examples: Fossil Fuels (petroleum, coal, natural gas) and Nuclear Power
Loss of Biodiversity
Scientists estimate that their are close to 5 million species on earth
Humans and Ecosystems rely on the diversity of species
Genetic Variation ensures species survival through economic changes
Production of a number of different products such as fibers, dyes, and rubber.
Prescription drugs and vaccines
Nutrient Cycles
Atmospheric maintenance
Air Pollution
Land Pollution
Climate Change
The atmosphere is a vital part of the water cycle and gas exchange for organisms
Air pollution occurs when chemicals are released into the atmosphere
The major source of air pollution is the burning of fossil fuels
Leads to
Ozone Depletion
Acid Rain
Climate Change
CFC's were banned in the 1990s because they destroyed the ozone
Soil and water are technically renewable resources; however if humans are careless with their use of them, they cannot be replenished fast enough
Sources of land and water pollution:
Herbicides and Pesticides
Runoff --> algal blooms
Soil Erosion
Waste disposal
The Greenhouse Effect: Natural effect where gases in the atmosphere radiate heat back to the earth's surface
Necessary to keep the earth's climate at a temperature that can sustain life
However, increase in emissions is increasing the greenhouse effect
Temperature Increase: Global temperature has increased 1 degree over the past 100 years
Carbon Emissions: Atmospheric carbon is increasing at exponential rates. This is attributed to increasing greenhouse effect and increasing global temperatures
: Decline in cold-adapted species, glacier melting, rise in sea levels, coastal flooding and shoreline erosion, loss of crops, increase severity of storms
Climate change affecting NC
Carbon Cycle

What drives the carbon cycle??
Cellular Respiration and Photosynthesis
Carbon in the atmosphere as CO2
Carbon released into the atmosphere by burning of fossil fuels (combustion), cellular respiration, and decomposers
Carbon in dead matter and sediments at the bottom of the ocean (eventually form fossil fuels)
Autotrophs take carbon from the atmosphere to make organic molecules (photosynthesis)
Water Cycle
How water is continually cycled from the atmosphere to earth and back
Atmosphere: Water vapor cools and forms clouds through
: Clouds release water in form of rain, sleet, snow
Surface: Water in oceans, lakes, rivers, etc. Runoff or seeps into ground (groundwater)
: surface water changes to water vapor
: water released from plants
Nitrogen Cycle
All living things need nitrogen to build essential structures and chemicals.
78% of the atmosphere is Nitrogen gas
Nitrogen-Fixing bacteria take nitrogen directly from the atmosphere and turn it into ammonium (NH4+) through n
itrogen fixation
Nitrifying bacteria convert the ammonium into nitrites (NO2-) then nitrates (NO3-) through

Denitrifying bacteria turn these complex nitrogen compounds back into Nitrogen gas
Competitive Exclusion Principle:
if two competitors try to occupy the same niche and compete for the same resources, one species will eliminate the other
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