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Ecology Unit—Section 1: The Biosphere. What is ecology? Ecology- the scientific study of interactions between organisms and their environments, focusing.

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Presentation on theme: "Ecology Unit—Section 1: The Biosphere. What is ecology? Ecology- the scientific study of interactions between organisms and their environments, focusing."— Presentation transcript:

1 Ecology Unit—Section 1: The Biosphere

2 What is ecology? Ecology- the scientific study of interactions between organisms and their environments, focusing on energy transfer. It is a science of relationships.

3 What do you mean by environment? The word environment refers to all conditions or factors surrounding an organism. It is made up of two factors: Biotic factors (living)- all living organisms inhabiting the Earth Abiotic factors (nonliving)- the physical or nonliving parts of the environment (i.e. temperature, soil, light, moisture, air currents)

4 Organism Population Community Biosphere Ecosystem Biome

5 OrganismOrganism- any unicellular or multicellular form exhibiting all of the characteristics of life, an individual. (a species—a group of similar organisms that can breed and produce fertile offspring) The lowest level of organization

6 PopulationPopulation-a group of organisms of one species living in the same place at the same time that interbreed and compete with each other for resources (ex: food, mates, shelter)

7 CommunityCommunity- several interacting populations that inhabit a common environment and are interdependent.

8 EcosystemEcosystem- populations in a community and the abiotic factors with which they interact (ex. marine, terrestrial)

9 Biome-a group of ecosystems that share similar climates and typical organisms.

10 BiosphereBiosphere- our entire planet with all its organisms and physical environment composed of air, land, fresh water, and salt water. The highest level of organization

11 What methods are used to study ecology? Observation Experimentation Modeling

12 Ecological methods—modeling Models are created by humans to make predictions.

13 Sometimes, you must be cautious in how a model interprets data.... Imagine graphing a person's height as they age. One could predict that by the time they were age 30, they would be 22 feet tall. However, the model would need to account for the slowing of growth after adolescence.

14 Test yourself! 1. A group of animals that live in the same area and can interbreed is called a (n) _____________________ 2. The study of organisms and their interactions with the environment is known as ___________________________ 3. A large area that has a particular climate and distinct plants and animals is called a ____________________________ 4. All of the different populations living in an area (plants, rabbits, coyotes...) is called the _________________________ 5. An ecosystem includes all the living and ___________ factors in an area. 6. The portion of the planet that can sustain life is the ________ 7. Animals that can interbreed are called a(n) _______________

15 Feeding Relationships Autotrophs (producers) - capture energy from environment and convert it into "food" Heterotrophs (consumers) - must eat things

16 Feeding Relationships Primary Producers- also known as autotrophs (algae, certain bacteria and plants), they trap energy from the sun Bottom of the food chain

17 Energy from the sun Photosynthesis—a process by which plants, algae and some bacteria capture light energy and uses it to power chemical reactions that converts carbon dioxide and water into oxygen and energy- rich carbohydrates such as sugars and starches. This process adds oxygen to the atmosphere and removes carbon dioxide.

18 Life without light Some organisms (such as sulfur bacteria) thrive in total darkness deep beneath the oceans around volcanic vents. They harness chemical energy from inorganic molecules such as hydrogen sulfide. This process is called chemosynthesis.

19 Feeding Relationships Consumers- animals, fungi and many bacteria are heterotrophs: they ingest food containing the sun’s energy. Herbivores Carnivores Scavengers Omnivores Decomposers

20 Feeding Relationships Consumer- Herbivores –Eat plants Primary consumers Prey animals

21 Feeding Relationships Consumer-Carnivores-eat meat Predators –Hunt prey animals for food.

22 Feeding Relationships Consumer- Carnivores- eat meat Scavengers –Feed on carrion, dead animals

23 Feeding Relationships Consumer- Omnivores -eat both plants and animals

24 Feeding Relationships Consumer- Decomposers Break down the complex compounds of dead and decaying plants and animals into simpler molecules that can be reabsorbed.

25 Energy flow in the ecosystem Food chain- simple model that shows how matter and energy move through an ecosystem. It consists of a series of steps in which organisms transfer energy by eating and being eaten.


27 Food chain (just 1 path of energy)

28 Food web- shows all possible feeding relationships in a community at each trophic level Represents a network of interconnected food chains

29 Food web (all possible energy paths)





34 Test yourself! Identify: Primary Consumers Secondary Consumers Tertiary Consumers Find the Omnivore.

35 Trophic Levels Each step or link in a food chain is known as a trophic level. Trophic levels represent a feeding step in the transfer of energy and matter in an ecosystem.

36 3 types of ecological pyramids Pyramid of energy Pyramid of biomass Pyramid of numbers

37 Pyramid of Energy Primary Producers- Autotrophs Primary Consumers- Herbivores Secondary Consumers- small carnivores Tertiary Consumers- top carnivores ENERGYENERGY

38 Pyramid of Energy Only a small portion of the energy (about 10%) that passes through any given trophic level is ultimately stored in the bodies of the organisms at the next level.

39 Only 10% Efficiency

40 Pyramids of Biomass and Numbers Biomass- the amount of organic matter (living tissue) that make up a group of organisms in a habitat. As you move up a food chain, both available energy and biomass decrease. Energy is transferred upwards but is diminished with each transfer.

41 A pyramid of biomass illustrates the relative amount of living organic available at each trophic level in an ecosystem. A pyramid of numbers shows the relative number of individual organisms at each trophic level in an ecosystem. Pyramids of Biomass and Numbers


43 Cycles of Matter— The Biogeochemical Cycles! 4 cycles to investigate: 1. Water cycle 2. Carbon cycle 3. Nitrogen cycle 4. Phosphorus cycle Biogeochemical (biology + geology + chemical) Matter is not used up, it is transformed, the same atoms are passed around.

44 Water cycle- Evaporation, transpiration, condensation, precipitation

45 Water cycle-

46 Nutrient Cycles Nutrients—chemicals that organisms need to build tissues and carry out life functions. The most important nutrient cycles are: Carbon cycle Nitrogen cycle Phosphorus cycle

47 Carbon cycle- Carbon is a major component of all organic compounds (molecules that living things are made of) Photosynthesis and respiration cycle carbon and oxygen through the environment.

48 Photosynthesis and Respiration In photosynthesis carbon dioxide and water react in the presence of sunlight and produce sugar and oxygen. In respiration sugar reacts with oxygen and release the stored energy, carbon dioxide and water.

49 Carbon cycle-


51 Nitrogen cycle- Atmospheric nitrogen (N 2 ) makes up nearly 78%-80% of air. Organisms can not use it in that form. Lightning and bacteria convert nitrogen into usable forms.

52 Nitrogen cycle- Only certain bacteria and industrial technologies (making fertilizers) can fix nitrogen. Nitrogen fixation-convert atmospheric nitrogen (N 2 ) into ammonium (NH 4 + ) which can be used to make organic compounds like amino acids. N 2 NH 4 +

53 Nitrogen cycle- Nitrogen-fixing bacteria: Some live in a symbiotic relationship with plants of the legume family (e.g., soybeans, clover, peanuts).

54 Nitrogen cycle- Some nitrogen-fixing bacteria live free in the soil. Nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria are essential to maintaining the fertility of semi-aquatic environments like rice paddies.

55 Denitrification—the process by which soil bacteria convert nitrates into nitrogen gas.



58 Atmospheric nitrogen Lightning Nitrogen fixing bacteria Ammonium Nitrification by bacteria NitritesNitrates Denitrification by bacteria Plants Animals Decomposers Nitrogen Cycle

59 Phosphorus Cycle-

60 Toxins in food chains- While energy decreases as it moves up the food chain, toxins increase in potency. This is called biological magnification Ex: DDT & Bald Eagles

61 “The ecological niche of an organism depends not only on where it lives but also on what it does. By analogy, it may be said that the habitat is the organism's ‘address’, and the niche is its ‘profession’, biologically speaking.” Odum - Fundamentals of Ecology

62 Habitat vs. Niche Niche - the role a species plays in a community (job) Habitat- the place in which an organism lives out its life (address)

63 Habitat vs. Niche A niche is determined by the tolerance limitations of an organism, or a limiting factor. Limiting factor- any biotic or abiotic factor that restricts the existence of organisms in a specific environment.

64 Examples of limiting factors- Amount of water Amount of food Temperature Habitat vs. Niche

65 Feeding Relationships There are 3 main types of feeding relationships 1. Producer- Consumer 2. Predator- Prey 3. Parasite- Host

66 Symbiotic Relationships Symbiosis- two species living together 3 Types of symbiosis: 1. Commensalism 2. Parasitism 3. Mutualism

67 Symbiotic Relationships Commensalism- one species benefits and the other is neither harmed nor helped Ex. orchids on a tree Epiphytes: A plant, such as a tropical orchid or a bromeliad, that grows on another plant upon which it depends for mechanical support but not for nutrients. Also called aerophyte, air plant.

68 Symbiotic Relationships Commensalism- one species benefits and the other is neither harmed nor helped Ex. polar bears and cyanobacteria

69 Symbiotic Relationships Parasitism- one species benefits (parasite) and the other is harmed (host) Parasite-Host relationship

70 Symbiotic Relationships Parasitism- parasite-host Ex. lampreys, leeches, fleas, ticks,tapeworm

71 Symbiotic Relationships Mutualism- beneficial to both species Ex. cleaning birds and cleaner shrimp

72 Symbiotic Relationships Mutualism- beneficial to both species Ex. lichen


74 Type of relationship Species harmed Species benefits Species neutral Commensalism Parasitism Mutualism = 1 species

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