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Option G.1 - Community Ecology

Option G.1 - Community Ecology



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Published by IB Screwed

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Published by: IB Screwed on Aug 22, 2011
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Option G.1 - Community Ecology
G.1.1 - Outline the factors that affect the distribution of plant species, includingtemperature, water, light, soil pH, salinity and mineral nutrients
All species are restricted to certain geographical areas and particular habitats. Abioticfactors are conditions caused by non-living elements. The main factors that determine thedistribution of green plants are:
This determines the rate of biochemical reactions in organisms, as enzymes have optimumtemperatures for function. Temperature also determines the rate of evaporation fromplants, called transpiration. Plants have adapted to resist variation in temperature.
This is vital to life, as it is necessary in reactions of photosynthesis and respiration, alongwith other uses. Rainfall will restrict plant distribution and density. Plants have evolved toretain water according to their environment, include waxy cuticles and extensive rootsystems, including the
This is necessary for photosynthesis by autotrophic organisms, which provide energy for thewhole ecosystem. Light intensity and wavelength vary, in turn affecting temperature andhumidity in the area. Also, day length is used to control some daily or seasonal rhythms,including flowering. In this way, light can affect the structure of plant communities,controlling which types of plants can grow in certain places.
Soil pH
This affects the availability of essential ions. Also, highly acidic or alkaline soils may causethe denaturation of proteins, disrupting important physiological processes. It also affectspopulation and soil bacteria activity that decompose organic matter. While diversity isgenerally greatest at pH7, many plants have adapted or acid or alkaline conditions.
affects the distribution of water plants. Salts and ions can accumulate to high levels inwater. When salt concentration in the soil is high, the plant may lose too much waterthrough osmosis. Salt marshes have a variable salinity based on the tide, and often contain
, which survive high salt conditions by retaining enhanced levels of ions andresisting loss of water to their environment.
Mineral nutrients
These are found dissolved in water of the soil solution, usually at low concentrations, andare essential for the growth of the plant. The essential elements are released by decay of dead plants and animals and their waste matter, including K and Ca, NO
and PO
. They areabsorbed then reused by the plant as ions, and endlessly cycled. Stocks can be added to bythe weathering of rocks, but nitrates are generated from atmospheric nitrogen gas by theactions of nitrogen-fixing microorganisms, and as an outcome of lightning. The availability of minerals is affected by pH and bacteria.
G.1.2 - Explain the factors that affect the distribution of animal species, includingtemperature, water, breeding sites, food supplies and territory
The dominant plants in an ecosystem will often determine animal distribution as theanimals are highly dependent on them for their sources of energy and carbon. It alsodetermines the type of habitat that exists, along with the critical abiotic conditions. Thisshould be kept in mind when investigating animal distribution.
This can influence the metabolism and growth of animals, as well as their behaviour. Thereis strong correlation between amount of light and temperature.
are able tosurvive very low or high temperatures using behavioural means, but cannot survive if it getstoo extreme.
are animals that regulate their own temperature.
maintain less control, and are more dependent on the external temperature.
The bodies of animals are mostly made up of water. It is lost by
during theprocesses of gaseous exchange, regulation of body temperature and disposal of wastematter. Some animals, such as insects, reptiles, birds and mammals, have adapted to retainmore water by having an impervious body covering, and can occupy a wider range of habitats. Some may use it as their permanent habitat, such as fish, or just for breeding, suchas amphibians. However, all animals need a reliable water source in their habitat.
Breeding sites
 These are sites in which young are fed and reared, typically placed at the heart of theterritory. These sites often have special requirements, including temperature and light.
Food resources
have a large effect on the chances of survival for the young.Without these sites, the species is likely to become extinct.
Food supplies
This affects the existence and size of local populations. They may be dependent on plantmatter, other animals or both for meeting their special dietary requirements. When suppliesare short, individuals must compete for a limited resource. This can occur between the samespecies, intraspecific competition
, or different species, interspecific competition. Thiscompetition is a major factor determining population size. If food supplies run out due toover-predation, the effects are felt all the way up the food chain.
This is a defended area of a habitat, established by individuals, breeding pairs or familygroups. Organisms will have specific requirements for their territory. Herds will mark theirterritory using scent marking and
their territory
through active behaviour, althoughfighting will be kept to a minimum; instead, ritualised aggression through body language isusually used. They may occupy habitat on either a temporary or permanent basis.

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