What is ecology? the study of interactions between organisms and the living and nonliving components of their environment
What does ecology involve? Collecting info about organisms and their environments Observing/measuring interactions between organisms Looking for patterns among organisms and their environments and explaining
Interdependence A key theme in biology Refers to interconnectedness of organisms with each other and with the nonliving parts of their environment Any change in the environment can affect the network of interactions and organisms seemingly far removed from the change
Levels of Organization From largest to smallest: Biosphere (Biomes) Ecosystem Community Population Organism These levels of organization are considered external as opposed to the internal levels that we learned earlier.
Recall internal levels of organization beginning with atoms: atoms biological molecules cell organelles cells tissues organs organ systems organism Remember that these internal levels exist only in multicellular organisms! **Internal organization for unicellular organisms stops here
Ecological levels of organization defined: organism – individual living thing population – group of organisms of the same species living in the same area community – all of the interacting organisms living in an area ecosystem – living (biotic) and nonliving (abiotic) things found in a particular area biosphere – the thin volume of Earth (extending below the surface and into the atmosphere) that supports life
Ecosystem Components: BioticAbiotic Definition:Living partsNonliving (physical and chemical) parts Examples:All the organisms: plants, animals, bacteria, fungi, protists Temperature, pH, oxygen, nitrogen, humidity, salinity, sunlight, precipitation, etc.
Ecosystem Components: Aquatic vs. Terrestrial BioticAbiotic Aquatic ecosystemAlgae and other protists, plants, animals, bacteria Water temp., depth, turbidity, salinity, still vs. current or waves, pH, sunlight, oxygen, etc. Terrestrial ecosystemProtists, fungi, plants, animals, bacteria Temp., sunlight, humidity, precipitation, soil minerals, etc.
Why do organisms need energy? To carry out life functions like: –growth –repair –maintenance –movement –reproduction
Energy flows in an ecosystem. The amount of energy that an ecosystem receives and the amount that’s transferred from organism to organism affects the ecosystem’s structure.
Within an ecosystem there are producers and consumers ProducersConsumers DefinitionCapture energy and make organic molecules Eat other organisms or organic wastes for energy GroupsPhotosynthetic: capture sunlight to make org. molecules Chemosynthetic: use inorganic molecules to make org. molecules Herbivores: eat producers Carnivores: eat other consumers Omnivores: eat producers and consumers Detritivores: feed on wastes like dead organisms, fallen leaves, animal waste, etc. Decomposers: detritivores that cause decay by breaking down complex molecules into simpler ones
ProducersConsumers Exp.PS: Plants, some protists, some bacteria CS: Some bacteria H: Antelope C: Lions, cobras, praying mantises O: Grizzly bear Det.: Vulture Dec: Bacteria and fungi
Biomass Organic materials produced in an ecosystem Producers add to the biomass by making organic molecules!
Decomposers “nature’s recyclers” cause decay; make nutrients trapped in waste available again to autotrophs
Energy Flow Trophic level – organism’s position in a sequence of energy transfers –1 st level = producers –2 nd level = herbivores –3 rd level = primary consumers –4 th level = secondary consumers –5 th level = tertiary consumers
Food chains vs. food webs Food chains – show a single pathway of energy flow Single food chains are rare in nature Food webs – interrelated food chains in an ecosystem
Energy transfer How much energy is available for each trophic level? On average, 10 percent of the total energy consumed in one trophic level is incorporated into the organisms in the next Why only 10%?! Organisms: –escape being eaten –die and become food for decomposers –have energy stored in places that can’t be used (like antlers) –need/use energy themselves –some energy is also lost in metabolism (heat) – remember that cell respiration is only 39% efficient!
Produce chemical energy from sunlight Eat producers Eat 1° consumers Eat 2° consumers Eat 3° consumers
Limitations of trophic levels Ecosystems rarely have more than a few trophic levels –Since only 10 percent is available to next level, there’s not enough energy in the top level to support more levels –Organisms at lowest level usually much more abundant; more diversity at lowest level; high levels contain less energy and can support fewer individuals
At the lowest level, there are a lot of producers, so the block is very wide. This energy pyramid diagram represents energy flow through four trophic levels. Only 10% of the energy is available to the next level, so there are less organisms that can exist at the level; there is less diversity. The block is smaller. This continues up the pyramid resulting in smaller and smaller blocks – fewer organisms being supported. Pyramids may be shaped a little differently depending on the ecosystem, but always follow this basic pattern
3 Biogeochemical Cycles: Water cycle Carbon cycle (carbon/oxygen cycle) Nitrogen cycle These cycles are pathways of these materials from the environment, into living things, and back into the environment.
Water cycle includes: Evaporation - water enters the atmosphere from oceans, lakes, streams, etc. Transpiration - water enters atmosphere by evaporating out of plant leaves when stomata open Condensation – vapor to liquid Precipitation – falling forms of water Runoff – from land into water Percolation – water filters down through soil/rocks Groundwater – water beneath the surface in rock formations or spaces
Carbon cycle Cellular respiration – releases carbon into atmosphere (CO2) Photosynthesis * - uses carbon Decomposition – releases carbon –Fossil fuels – formed from the remains of dead organisms Combustion – burning of fossil fuels and other organic materials; releases carbon
Nitrogen cycle All organisms need nitrogen to make –Proteins (amine group in amino acids has N) –Nucleic acids (nitrogenous bases A, T, C, G, and U have nitrogen!) 78% of the atmosphere is nitrogen gas (N 2 ) BUT plants can’t use it in that form... It must be converted into nitrates (NO 3 )
The process of converting nitrogen gas into nitrates is nitrogen fixation Nitrogen-fixing bacteria convert nitrogen gas into a usable form –Live in soil –Live in nodules on roots of some plants like beans, peas, clover, and alfalfa
Parts of the nitrogen cycle Nitrogen fixation – converting nitrogen gas into nitrates Ammonification – formation of ammonia (NH 3 ) and ammonium (NH 4 ) in the soil from decomposition of dead organisms
Nitrification – performed by soil bacteria; uptake of ammonium and its oxidation into nitrites (NO 2 - ) and nitrates (NO 3 - ) –Erosion of nitrate rich rocks also releases nitrates into the ecosystem –Plants use nitrates! Yay! They can absorb them from the soil. Animals cannot. Boo! So how do animals get nitrogen?
Assimilation – uptake of nitrates in soil by plants Denitrification – performed by anaerobic bacteria; breakdown of nitrates that releases nitrogen gas back into the atmosphere
1.Nitrogen fixing from air to soil. 2.Nitrogen in soil gets assimilated into living things. 3.Living things excrete nitrogen and die, nitrogen goes back into soil. 4.Bacteria convert soil Nitrogen back into atmosphere. Summary of Nitrogen cycle