Presentation on theme: "Chapter 54 Ecosystems. Ecosystem: Overview An ecosystem consists of –All the organisms living in a community – all the abiotic factors with which they."— Presentation transcript:
Ecosystem: Overview An ecosystem consists of –All the organisms living in a community – all the abiotic factors with which they interact. The dynamics of an ecosystem involve two processes: – Energy flow – Chemical cycling. Ecosystem ecologists view ecosystems as –Energy machines –Matter processors. We can follow the transformation of energy by grouping the species in a community into trophic levels of feeding relationships.
biosphere Ecosystem inputs constant input of energy energy flows through nutrients cycle nutrients can only cycle inputs energy nutrients inputs energy nutrients Don’t forget the laws of Physics! Matter cannot be created or destroyed
Conservation of Energy Laws of physics and chemistry apply to ecosystems, particularly energy flow –The first law of thermodynamics states that energy cannot be created or destroyed, only transformed Energy enters an ecosystem as solar radiation from the sun –The second law of thermodynamics states that every exchange of energy increases the entropy of the universe In an ecosystem, energy conversions (transformations) are not completely efficient –some energy is always “lost” from organisms as heat »This leads to implications at different trophic levels. –The law of conservation of mass states that matter cannot be created or destroyed Mass is never “lost” like energy Mass continues to change form- atoms rearrange themselves into new combinations of molecules. –This explains the biogeochemical cycles (C,N,P, etc.)
Key Chemical cycling Energy flow Sun Heat Primary producers Primary consumers Secondary and tertiary consumers Detritus Microorganisms and other detritivores
Gross and Net Primary Production Total primary production is known as the ecosystem’s gross primary production (GPP) –GPP is measured as the amount of light energy that is converted to chemical energy by photosynthesis per unit time. –Not all of this energy is stored as organic matter by plants because plants need to use this energy to as fuel in their own cellular respiration. Therefore... Net primary production (NPP) is GPP minus energy used by primary producers for respiration –NPP = GPP - Respiration –NPP is expressed as −Energy per unit area per unit time (J/m 2 yr), or −Biomass added per unit area per unit time (g/m 2 yr)
NPP is the amount of new biomass added in a given time period Only NPP is storage of chemical energy that is available to consumers in an ecosystem Possible Point of Confusion: Standing crop is the total biomass of photosynthetic autotrophs at a given time, NPP is the amount of new biomass added in a given time period –For example: A forest has a large standing crop biomass, but it’s NPP may be less than grasslands which do not accumulate vegetation because animals eat the plants rapidly. Different ecosystems vary widely in their NPP –Terrestrial: Tropical Rainforests are tops –Aquatic: Coral reefs and estuaries are tops Net Primary Production
Primary Production in Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems Light and Nutrients are the two key factors More than light, nutrients limit primary production in geographic regions of the ocean and in lakes A limiting nutrient is the element that must be added for production to increase in an area Nitrogen and phosphorous are the nutrients that most often limit marine production Nutrient enrichment experiments confirmed that nitrogen was limiting phytoplankton growth off the shore of Long Island, New York
Inquiry: Which nutrient limits phytoplankton production along the coast of Long Island?
Primary Production in Terrestrial Ecosystems Temperature and Moisture are the two key factors Tropical forests –Warm and moist –Most productive terrestrial ecosystem on the planet Contrast with Deserts and Arctic Tundra – Dry and extreme temperatures (too hot, too cold) – Not productive
Mean annual precipitation (cm) 020200180160140120100806040 Net annual primary production (above ground, dry g/m 2 yr) 1,400 1,200 1,000 800 600 400 200 A global relationship between net primary production and mean annual precipitation for terrestrial ecosystems
Energy transfer between trophic levels is typically less than 20% efficient Secondary production of an ecosystem is the amount of chemical energy in food converted to new biomass during a given period of time Examine organic matter transfer from producers -> herbivores (primary consumers) –Herbivores only eat a small amount of the plant material produced –They can’t digest all the plant material they do eat –Therefore, much of primary production is not used by consumers!
Production Efficiency When a caterpillar feeds on a leaf, only about one-sixth of the leaf’s energy is used for secondary production, i.e. used for growth (converted to new biomass) –Some of the energy is used for cellular respiration –Rest is lost as feces Energy used for cellular respiration is lost from the ecosystem as heat – This is why energy is said to flow through, not cycle within, ecosystems.
Trophic Efficiency and Ecological Pyramids Trophic efficiency is the percentage of production transferred from one trophic level to the next It is usually about 10%, with a range of 5% to 20% Trophic efficiency is multiplied over the length of a food chain