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Principles of Ecology

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Jessica Booth

on 10 September 2012

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Transcript of Principles of Ecology

photo credit Nasa / Goddard Space Flight Center / Reto Stöckli Biosphere Ecology Ecology: the study of interrelationships
between living organisms and their
environment bio = life
sphere = ball portion of Earth that supports life BIOTIC FACTORS ABIOTIC FACTORS Air currents, light, soil, nutrients, temperature
Organisms rely on abiotic factors a = non
bio = life non-living Animals, Plants, Fungi, Bacteria, Protista
bio = life living environment All organisms depend on others for food, shelter, reproduction and protection
The levels of organization increase with complexity as the numbers and interactions between organisms increase Levels of Organization
in Ecology population biome community ecosystem organism an individual of a species a group of a single species that live in the same place and interbreed a collection of interacting populations the interactions among the populations in a community and the community’s abiotic factors
Types of ecosystems:
- terrestrial (forest, meadow)
- aquatic (freshwater, saltwater) large group of ecosystems that share the same climate and have similar types of communities
- e.g. tundra, rainforest, desert, etc. Habitat Niche vs. place where an organism lives the role and position a species has in its environment
what it eats
how it survives
how it reproduces The Players in Every Ecosystem Matter and Energy Flow The Sun: ultimate source of all energy! The producers: Autotrophs organisms that manufacture food by the process of photosynthesis plants algae bacteria The consumers: heterotrophs organisms that get their energy by consuming other organisms primary consumer Herbivore: plant eater secondary consumer tertiary consumer Carnivore: meat eater or Omnivore: meat & plant eater or Omnivore: meat & plant eater Carnivore: meat eater scavenger Detritivores: feed on detritus (dead matter) decomposers break down dead organic matter into simpler compounds and recycle nutrients back into the ecosystem Matter and Energy Flow Otherwise known as who eats who and where did the energy go Food Chains and Food Webs food chain: shows the transfer of matter and energy FYI: The arrows in a food chain always point toward the organism getting the energy the sun gives off energy through photosynthesis the grain produces food which it stores for later (producer) the mouse eats the grain (primary consumer) the snake eats the mouse (secondary consumer) the hawk eats the snake (tertiary consumer) If any of the members of the food chain die before being eaten by predators, they can be consumed by scavengers or decomposers can break them down into simpler compounds. What if there was grasshopper in the same field of grain that the mouse, the snake and the hawk were all in? shows all of the interconnected food chains and pathways in which energy flows in a community Food webs show competition between different populations for the same food source.

Competition makes it harder for organisms to survive because they are struggling to obtain the same biotic and abiotic factors as other species in that ecosystem. FYI: Each step in a food chain or food web is called a trophic level. Can you name some biotic and abiotic factors in this environment? Ecosystem Community Population Organism feed on primary consumers feed on secondary consumers bacteria fungi How Organisms Obtain Energy Ecological Pyramids ** This is why there are generally only 3-4 trophic levels; with more than 3-4 levels the predators at the very top of the food chain would not receive any energy. These are another model used to show how energy flows through ecosystems. They can show the relative amounts of
biomass (total weight of living matter)
numbers of organisms
at each trophic level in an ecosystem. Number of organisms-lots of producers are needed to harness as much as the sun’s energy as possible and turn it into sugars. Each of them actually makes so few sugars that herbivores eating plants must eat a lot of them to have enough energy to survive. So fewer herbivores exist because each of them eats a large quantity of plants. Then the same trend follows for primary, secondary and tertiary consumers; larger organisms must eat many organisms is lower tropic levels to survive so fewer and fewer organisms exist at higher tropic levels. Each level represents the amount of energy that is available to that trophic level. With each step up, there is an energy loss of 90%. This is because most of the energy is consumed by cellular processes or released to the environment as heat. Each level represents the amount of biomass (total weight of living matter). The weight of organisms correlates directly to the number of organisms. Many organisms at lower levels will collectively weigh more. Fewer organisms at higher trophic levels will collectively weigh less. Each level represents the number of individual organisms. Many producers are needed to harness as much as the sun’s energy as possible and turn it into sugars. Fewer herbivores exist because each must eat a large quantity of producers in order to have enough energy to survive. The same trend follows for secondary and tertiary consumers; larger organisms must eat many organisms in lower tropic levels to survive, so fewer and fewer organisms exist at higher tropic levels.
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