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nicholas waters

on 4 May 2018

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Transcript of Ecology

Put simply, the physical universe is made of matter and energy.
But what exactly are matter and energy anyways?
"What is energy?"

"What is matter?"
Today, we are going to have a conversation about matter and energy and how these ideas relate to ecosystems...

...in part, ecosystems describe the matter and energy transfers and transformations that occur among living things
Primary Producers
Primary Consumers
Secondary Consumers
Biologically Intensive Agricultural Ecosystem
Industrial Corn Ecosystem
Steel Manufacturing
High fructose corn syrup
organic material
petroleum/crude oil/coal
Primary Producer
Primary Consumers
Secondary Consumers
Tertiary Consumers
Quaternary Consumers

All things in an ecosystem are made of matter.

Think-Pair-Share: List some examples of matter
How matter flows in an ecosystem
As you can tell from the figures, it takes a massive amount of matter at the lowest level to sustain a top level consumer.

This is one way of visualizing the inefficiencies associated with a food chain.
Trophic levels
The trophic level of an organism is the position it occupies in a food chain.

Food chains start at trophic level 1 with primary producers such as plants, move to herbivores (primary consumers) at level 2, predators at level 3, and typically finish with carnivores, or apex predators, at level 4 or 5.

A food chain represents a succession of organisms that eat other organisms and are, in turn, eaten themselves.

An ecosystem is a “community of living and non-living things that work together." An ecosystem can be very large, such as a desert or forest, or can be very small, such as tree or pond
And LIFE is all about transfering and transforming this matter and energy into usable forms...

*Each time you climb a trophic level on the pyramid, there is an energy loss.

As such, energy tranfers in ecosystems are inherently inefficient.
What are some of your observations about the difference(s) between the two ecosystems?
How do the primary producers get food?

Roughly 2% of light energy is converted into chemical energy (food for the plants) during photosynthesis
All other organisms in the food chain (herbivores, secondary consumers, etc.) get their food by eating other organisms

This food is a source of energy, and an easy way to think of food energy is to think of calories
Only about 10% of the calories (energy) are passed from one trophic level to the next

From the original 2% of light energy that was turned into food, only 10% is passed on to successive trophic levels
The amount of calories consumed by a lower trophic level are not all available for the next higher trophic level:

Organisms need some of their calories to: digest food, excrete food, move, respond, think, grow, reproduce, etc.

These processes require energy!
Levels of Organization
Energy Flow
Nutrient Cycles
= the study of interactions among organisms and between organisms and their environment
To understand relationships that exist among organisms and between organisms and their environment, ecologists ask questions about events and organisms that range in complexity from a single individual to the entire biosphere
Levels of ecological organization
The biosphere
= the combined portions of the planet in which all of life exists, including the hydrosphere (water), lithosphere (soil), and atmosphere (air)

= group of ecosystems that have the same climate and similar dominant communities of organisms

= ALL of the organisms that live in a particular place together with their non- living environment

= multiple populations that live together in the same area

= groups of individuals that belong to the same species and live in the same area

= a single organism in the ecosystem
Without a constant supply of energy, living systems cannot function
Sunlight is the main source of energy on earth
(*however, only one percent of the sun's energy is used by living things)
(a.k.a. “
”) = must consume other organisms for their energy requirements
(a.k.a. “
”) = organisms that make their own food

*Only plants, some algae, and certain bacteria can capture sunlight energy and turn it into food

There are different types of heterotrophs...

= obtain energy by eating only plants (examples: cows, deer, caterpillars)
= obtain energy by eating other animals (examples: snakes, owls, wolves)
= obtain energy by eating both plants and animals (examples: humans, bears)
= feed on dead plant and animal remains (example: earthworms, snails, crabs)

= break-down organic matter (examples: fungus and bacteria)
Feeding Relationships
Autotrophs vs. Heterotrophs
Food Chains
Food Webs
Ecological Pyramids
Food chain
= a series of steps in which organisms transfer energy by eating and being eaten
Food web
= a network of complex feeding interactions that link all the food chains in an ecosystem together.
Ecological Pyramids
= diagrams that show the relative amounts of energy or matter contained within each trophic level in a food chain or food web.
Ecological Pyramids
Only 10% of the energy available at each trophic level is transferred to the next higher level
***Within ecosystems, energy flows in one direction and can be lost from the system as heat
The biomass at each higher trophic level is ten times less than the trophic level below it
It takes a whole lot of organisms at the "producer" level to support fewer and fewer numbers of organisms at higher trophic levels
Trophic level = each step in a food chain or food web
Primary Consumer
Secondary Consumer
Tertiary Consumer
Quaternary Consumer

a.k.a. (apex predator)
Water Cycle
Nitrogen Cycle
Phosphorous Cycle
Carbon Cycle
Unlike energy, nutrients (matter) continually cycle through an ecosystem
Biogeochemical Cycles = cycles that connect biological, ecological, and chemical aspects of the biosphere by passing matter from one organism to another and from one part of the biosphere to another.
All the water that living things need to survive cycles through the oceans, the atmosphere and the land (surface water and ground water)
Humans have a large impact on the availability and quality of water resources
Water...It's a complicated issue
Carbon cycles between CO2 in the atmosphere, the macromolecules (proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, and nucleic acids) that make up living organisms, organic matter in the soil, oceanic carbon, and longer-term storage reserves.
Global climate change is one of the most serious issues related to humans' impact on the carbon cycle
~78% of our air is made of nitrogen gas (N2). However, plants cannot use this form of nitrogen. Bacteria play a key role in converting atompsheric nitrogen into forms in the soil that plants can use.
As far as the nitrogen cycle goes, bacteria rule!
Nitrogen is a very important nutrient that is needed in order for plants to grow...

...and humans need nitrogen for DNA, Protein synthesis, etc.
Phosphorous is also a very important nutrient for plant growth...

...and humans need it for DNA, healthy bones, etc.
The only source of phosphorous is rock!
When rocks weather into soil, their phosphate is made available for plants.
Factors that shape ecosystems
Biotic & Abiotic Factors
Community Interactions
Ecological Succession
Weather = the condition of earth's atmosphere at a particular time and place (i.e. "day-to-day)
Climate = the average "year-to-year" condition of temperature and precipitation in a region
Climate is caused by the interaction of many factors, including:

latitude, winds, ocean currents, the shape and height of landmasses, and the trapping of heat by the atmosphere
Climate affects ecosystems because it affects organisms: all organisms vary in their adaptations to temperature, rainfall, and other climate-based factors.
The Greenhouse Effect
Weather vs. Climate
Temperature on Earth stays within a range suitable for life because the earth has a natural, insulating blanket called the atmosphere
The greenhouse effect = the trapping of heat by atmospheric gases, such as: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and water vapor
The million dollar question...
Because earth is tilted on its axis, solar radiation (sunlight) strikes different parts of earth’s surface at an angle that varies throughout the year (more heat @ equator than at the poles). This uneven heat distribution greatly affects earth’s climate
The unequal heating of earth’s surface drives wind and ocean currents, which transport heat throughout the biosphere (hot air rises @ the equator, cool air sinks @ the poles; cold water sinks at the poles and is brought to the surface at the equator)
As a result of differences in latitude - and thus the angle of heating - earth has three main climate zones: 1. polar 2. temperate and 3. tropical
Biotic Factors
Abiotic Factors
Biotic Factors = all the biological influences that affect organisms, including: bacteria, algae, insects, trees, grass, mushrooms, birds, mammals, etc.
Abiotic Factors = all the non-living factors that shape ecosystems, including: temperature, precipitation, humidity, wind, nutrient availability, soil type, light intensity, slope
Habitat (a.k.a. “ecological address”) = the area in which an organism lives (habitat includes both abiotic and biotic factors)
ex: sagegrouse habitat...
The Niche (a.k.a. “ecological occupation”) = the full range of biological and physical conditions in which an organism lives and the way in which the organism uses those conditions.
The niche includes factors such as: the organism’s place in the food web (the type of food it eats, how and where it obtains this food, and who eats it), the range of temperatures and other environmental factors the organism requires to survive, and how and when the organism reproduces
*Competitive Exclusion Principle: No two species will occupy the exact same niche in the same habitat
growth and development
how and what you eat
Community Interactions…

Organisms living together in ecological communities constantly interact and interactions such as competition, predation, and symbiosis can powerfully affect an ecosystem
Competition = a struggle that occurs when organisms of the same (or different) species attempt to use an ecological resource in the same place at the same time.
Predation = an interaction in which one organism captures and feeds on another organism.

Predator = organism that does the killing and eating
Prey = organism that gets eaten

= any relationship in which two species live closely together. There are three types:

1. Mutualism
= a symbiosis in which both species benefit from the relationship

2. Commensalism
= a symbiosis in which one member benefits and the other is neither helped nor harmed

3. Parasitism
= one organism lives on or inside another organism (the “host”) and harms it

*some predators play an important role in maintaining the stability and diversity of an ecosystem
examples of important "keystone" predators:
A keystone species is a species that has a disproportionately large effect on its environment relative to its abundance. Such species are described as playing a critical role in maintaining the structure of an ecological community, affecting many other organisms in an ecosystem and helping to determine the types and numbers of various other species in the community.
Keystone Species =
Sea Otters
Most of us think wolves are all bad...

a series of predictable changes that occurs in a community over time

(ecosystems are constantly changing in response to natural and human disturbances. As an ecosystem changes, older inhabitants gradually die out and new organisms move in, causing further changes in the community)
Ecological succesion =
Primary Succession
Secondary Succession
Primary succession
= succession that occurs where no life is currently supported. This type of succession begins on bare rock (lava rock, sand, stones left from retreating glacier, etc.
development of soil fertility
pioneer species
= the first species to populate an area
Secondary succession
= the series of community changes which take place on a previously colonized, but recently disturbed or damaged habitat.
Succession after wildfire
Succession after agriculture
Succession after logging
some examples...
Ruminant animals and their gut bacteria
Pollinators and flowering plants
Clown Fish and Anemones
use pages 99 - 104 in your book to fill-out the information about biomes on in your part 2 notes
"In 2017, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) estimated that economically extractable phosphate rock reserves worldwide are 68 billion tons, while world mining production in 2016 was 0.261 billion tons.Assuming zero growth, the reserves would thus last for 260 years. This broadly confirms a 2010 International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC) report that global reserves would last for several hundred years."
"The countries with most phosphate rock commercial reserves (in billion metric tons): Morocco 50, China 3.1, Algeria 2.2, Syria 1.8, Finland 1.6, South Africa 1.5, Russia 1.3, Jordan 1.2, Egypt 1.2, Australia 1.1, United States 1.1"
¾ of the earths surface is covered with water. Only ~ 2.5% is freshwater (
of that 2.5%, 68.7% is stored in glaciers and ice caps
Thermohaline Circulation
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