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 Ecology is the study of how living things interact with each other and with their environment.  The Biosphere is the part of the earth’s land, air.

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Presentation on theme: " Ecology is the study of how living things interact with each other and with their environment.  The Biosphere is the part of the earth’s land, air."— Presentation transcript:


2  Ecology is the study of how living things interact with each other and with their environment.  The Biosphere is the part of the earth’s land, air and water where life can survive and grow.  The biosphere has two main divisions, aquatic (water) and terrestrial (land) environments.

3  The aquatic also consists of marine and freshwater.  The terrestrial is divided into biomes, which are determined by the dominant plants there: E.g. Tropical rain forests, temperate deciduous forests, grasslands, tundra etc.  The types of plant growing in a biome influences what other animals or plants live there and provide food and habitats (places to live).

4  An ecosystem is a community of organisms interacting with each other and their environment.  An ecosystem can be any size e.g. a rocky seashore, a tropical rainforest, a lake or even a garden pond or compost heap.  An ecosystem is made up of living (biotic) and non-living (abiotic) parts.  The abiotic part is called a habitat - a habitat is the type of place an organism normally lives.  Different abiotic factors influence what species of plant or animal can live in a habitat.

5  Examples of abiotic factors include: Temperature, water, light, humidity, currents, soil, pH, wave actions, topography etc.  The biotic part is called a community, which is made up of a series of populations of animals and plants.  A population is a group of individuals of the same species, each adapted to live in their particular habitat.  Biotic Factors are also evident in an ecosystem, including what animals and plants live there, which may provide food, competition or threat of being eaten.

6  Animals and plants are classified in ecology by how they feed.  Producers are organisms that use light energy to make their own food from simple chemicals in their environment.  Green plants are producers and are generally found at the bottom of the food chain.  Consumers are organisms that do not make their own food but obtain their energy from the tissues of other organisms.

7  Consumers are classified further depending on the types of food they eat.  Herbivores  Carnivores  Omnivores  Decomposers  Detritus feeders (Detritivores)  Detritus is dead decaying organic matter.

8  A food chain is a straight-line sequence of what eats what in an ecosystem.  A food web is a more accurate picture of what eat what, because most organism belong to more than one chain.

9  There are two main types of food web:  In a grazing food web, the energy flows from green plants to herbivores and then through a series of carnivores.  In a detritus food web, the energy flows from green plants through detritus feeders and decomposers.  Each food chain has a number of trophic levels.  A trophic (feeding) level is a step on a food chain at which an organism obtains its food.


11  1st Trophic Level – producers (green plants) producing sugars and proteins through photosynthesis.  2nd Trophic Level – primary consumers that feed directly on the producers.  3rd Trophic Level – secondary consumers (carnivores that feed on primary consumers).  4th Trophic Level – tertiary consumers (carnivores that feed on other carnivores.  Decomposers and Omnivores (including humans) may appear at different trophic levels.


13  Food chains indicate what eats what, but doesn’t indicate the numbers involved or how big they are.  There are two types of ecological pyramids, pyramids of numbers and pyramids of biomass.  Biomass is a term used to describe the mass of a population.  A pyramid of numbers is a bar chart indicating the relative numbers of organisms in a food chain.  A pyramid of biomass is a bar chart indicating the relative total mass of the population of a species in a food chain (detail to follow)


15  Elements are the raw materials of life.  The most important elements are Carbon (C), Hydrogen (H), Oxygen (O), Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P) and Sulphur (S).  95% of our bodies are made up of these elements.  Like energy, matter (elements) cannot be created or destroyed. This means that elements are recycled throughout an ecosystem.  Decomposers and detritus feeders play a huge part in this recycling.

16  There are three major cycles where elements are recycled. These are the water cycle (H and O), the Nitrogen cycle (N) and the Carbon cycle (C).  A significant amount of stored carbon in fossil fuels is now being converted to CO2 or CO, which are greenhouse gases.  The greenhouse effect is a natural phenomenon where the layers of gases in our atmosphere trap heat energy.




20  Abiotic factors are non-living parts of an ecosystem, which determine which animals or plants live there.  Biotic factors are living parts of a community, the animals and plants that live there, and again they determine what organisms live in the ecosystem.  Abiotic factors can be divided into: CLIMATIC and EDAPHIC factors.

21  Climate refers to the average weather conditions in an ecosystem  Features that affect climate include latitude, altitude, the sun and day / night  These features interact to produce winds and currents, which influence the soils of the world.  The soil conditions influence green plant (producers).  Climatic factors include:

22  Light  Temperature  Air (oxygen)  Water (rain fall etc)  Humidity  Wind  Topography (angle, aspect and altitude)

23  Edaphic factors are related to soil texture, soil pH, soil nutrient availability, organic matter content and water content.  The soil is the uppermost layer of the earth crust. It consists of rock, organic matter, air, water, minerals and living organisms.  The soils functions are to:  Provide plants with anchorage.  To supply water, nutrients and air to plants.  To house millions of microorganisms.

24  The structure and fertility of soils depend on its composition and relative amounts of sand, silt and clay.  Soil Fertility refers to the amount of nutrients available for good plant growth.  The properties of soil are heavily influenced by climate and topography.  Soil is formed by the breakdown of rock by either physical weathering (freeze – thaw) or chemical weathering (acid rain).  Soil particles (sand, silt and clay) are classified by their diameter.  Clay < 0.002mm  Silt 0.002 to 0.06mm  Sand 0.06 to 2.0mm

25  The relative amounts of sand, silt and clay affect a number of soil conditions:  Predominately sandy soils have good aeration and good drainage but therefore leach minerals.  Clay soils have poor aeration, poor drainage but higher mineral content.  The best soils are loams which contain similar amounts of sand and clay, therefore have good drainage, good aeration and do not leach minerals.

26  The main components of the soil that affect the ecosystems are: Organic Matter Content  Humus is decomposing organic matter.  Humus improves soils aeration, drainage.  Decomposers break down humas releasing minerals into the soil. Soil Water  Water is absorbed by plant roots and used in photosynthesis.

27 Soil Air  Air, containing oxygen, is essential respiration.  The amount of air is dependant on the amount of sand and clay in the soil. Soil pH and Nutrients  Soil nutrients are made available by decomposing organic matter (or fertilisers).  pH levels of soil affect the availability by these minerals.  Irish soil pH values vary from 3.5 in peat bogs to 8.5 in brown earths of Wexford.

28 Soil Organisms  The varying organisms in soil affect a number of soil conditions.  Decomposers make minerals available to the soil.  Earthworms introduce air and minerals to the soil.  Nitrifying Bacteria produce usable nitrates from N2

29  Biotic factors are the influences due to other organisms in an ecosystem.  The main biotic factors are: Competition  Organisms compete for different resources in their ecosystem e.g. food, shelter.  Competing organisms are said to have the same niche.  A niche is the role of an organism in an ecosystem.

30 Adaptations  Adaptations are ways in which an organism is specialised, in its body structures or behaviours, to survive and reproduce in that habitat.  There are many examples of plant and animal adaptations:  Cacti have no leaves but spines to prevent water loss.  Seaweeds have a slimy layer to prevent water loss when not submerged in water.

31 Plants  Plants must compete for root space, light, water, nutrients, pollinators and seed dispersers.  They adapt by changing life style or structures to survive. Animals  Animals compete for food, water, shelter and mates.  They must also avoid being eaten.  They adapt by camouflage, changing behaviour, structures or life style.

32 Disease  Some organisms have learnt to survive by living off other animals.  A parasite is an organism that lives in or on another organism causing it harm. Effect of Humans  Human activities like industry, farming, forestry, roads and housing affect the habitats of other living things, as we compete for food, space and shelter.

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