Biotic and Abiotic Components • An ecosystem is a system formed by the interaction of living organisms with one another and with their environment. • Examples of ecosystems are forest, grassland, pond, field, river, lake and sea.

• An ecosystem consists of two components: a) Abiotic components (physical factors) b) Biotic components (biological factors) • Abiotic components are the non-living components in the ecosystem such as air, water, soil, temperature and light intensity. • Biotic components are the living components in the ecosystem such as plants and animals.

1.1 •

The Abiotic Components In any ecosystem, abiotic components such as pH, light intensity, humidity, topography and microclimate

temperature, • organisms.

determine the population size and distribution of the biotic components. The pH value of the soil and water affects the distribution of a) Most organisms live in a neutral or nearly neutral environment (pH6-7.5) b) Some plants, like the maize, grows well in an acidic condition while coconuts grow well in an alkaline condition. • Temperature affects the biochemical reactions in the organisms. a) Organisms can live within a certain range of temperature. b) Poikilotherms are animals that cannot control their body temperature as their body temperature varies with the environmental temperature.

c) Homoiotherms are animals that can maintain their body temperature. d) Plants and animals have specific characteristics to help them adapt to areas of extreme temperature. • Light intensity affects the rate of photosynthesis. a) b) The distribution of green plants will be more extensive in areas with higher light intensity. All organisms that live in soil prefer a dark environment. • Topography refers to the shape of the Earth’s surface. a) b) • Topography of a place determines the temperature, light Three tomography factors that affect the distribution of intensity and humidity in an area. organisms are altitude, slope(gradient) and aspects. Microclimate refers to the climate in a small habitat such a the climate in the soil and the climate below a tree trunk or a large rock. a) Microclimate has specific temperature, humidity and light intensity within its small habitat. b) Each type of organisms finds a habitat that has a microclimate that is suitable for it.

1.2 •

The Abiotic Components

The abiotic components are classified into three groups: a) Producers b) Consumers c) Decomposers • • other organisms. The green plants are the producers because they can Consumers are organisms that feed on plants or synthesise food through photosynthesis.

a) Primary consumers are herbivores that feed on plants directly. b) Secondary consumers are carnivores that feed on primary consumers directly while tertiary consumers are carnivores or omnivores that feed on secondary consumers. • substances. Decomposers are the bacteria and fungi that break down dead plants and dead animals into simple

1.3 • • • • • •

Food Chain, Food Web and Trophic Levels

A food chain shows a sequence of organisms through which energy is transferred. Each stage in a food chain is known as a trophic level. Through the food chain, organisms obtain energy. In an ecosystem, several food chains interact to form a network called a food web. In a food chain, energy is transferred from one trophic level to another trophic level. When energy is transferred from one trophic level to another trophic level as much as 90% of the chemical energy in the food consumed is used for its metabolic activities and lost as heat, excretory products and undigested matter.

Only 10% of the energy in an organism is passed on to the organism at the next trophic level.

2.0 •

Interactions between biotic components Based on the feeding relationship, the interaction between biotic components is divided into three main types which are symbiosis, saprophytism and prey-predator interaction.

2.1 Symbiosis • • • •

Interaction between Biotic Components in Relation to Feeding

Symbiosis is an interaction between two organisms of different species that live together. in symbiosis, one organism will live in or with another organism called the host. The organism that interacts with the host will benefit from the interaction. Symbiosis is further classified into three types: a) Commensalisms b) Paratism c) Mutualism

i. Commensalism • Commensalisms is an interaction between two organisms where only one organism benefits from the relationship. The other is neither benefit nor harmed. • • epiphytes and epizoites. The organism that benefits is Examples of commensal are called the commensal while the other organism is called the host.

• • a) Pigeon orchid b) Staghorn fern c) Birds nest fern •

Epiphytes are green plants which Examples of epiphytes are:

grow on other plants to obtain more sunlight and for support.

Epizoites The benefits

are that

animals that live in external surface of another animal. • from the mouth of the hosts. • epizoites are a) remora fish which attaches itself to the shark b) protozoa which attaches itself to Cyclops sp.(water flea) c) barnacles which attach themselves to shells of crabs or snails. ii. Parasitism • Parasitism is an interaction between two different organisms where one organism called the parasite benefits and the other organism called the host is harmed. • Two types of parasites: a) Ectoparasites which live on the external body surface of the host b) Endoparasites which live in the body of their host. • • host. • Endoparasites that live in animals arre the various types of worms that live in the alimentary canals of their host and absorb nutrients from the intestines of their hosts. Ectoparasites depend on their hosts for food, protection Examples of ectoparasites that live on the bodies of and transportation. animals are the various types of flea and lice that feed on the blood of the Examples of epizoites get from their hosts are transport, protection and leftover foods

iii. Mutualism • • Mutualism is the interaction between two organism in which both Examples of mutualism: a) Algae and fungi in lichen(both plants) b) Hermit crabs and sea anemone(both animals) c) Rhizobium bacteria and legume plants(one animal and one plant) • In the interaction between sea anemones and hermit crabs, the sea anemones attach themselves to the shells of hermit crabs. a) Sea anemone obtains transport and leftover food from the hermit crab b) The hermit crab obtains protection from its predators because of the poisonous tentacles of the sea anemone. Saprophytism • • • • • Saprophytism is an interaction whereby an organism lives and feeds on decaying organic matter. Saprophytes refer to plants which obtain food from decayed organis matter. Examples of saprophtes are the various types of fungi such as mushrooms, bread mould and bracket fungus. Saprozoites are microscopic animals that feed on decayed organic matter. Some examples are paramecium sp. And amoeba sp. Which feed on organic matter from dead organisms. Prey-predator interaction • This is an interaction between two population of organisms in which one organism, called the predator, hunts, captures and kills the other organisms, called the prey, for food. organisms benefit.

• • •

This interaction is a natural method to regulate the population size of the prey. The size of the prey is usually smaller than the predator but the number of prey is always more than the predator. However, the population sizes of both predator and prey fluctuate together a) When the population of a predator is high, the population of its prey decreases because the prey are eaten by the predator. b) When the population of the prey falls, there is insufficient food, which results in a decline in the population of the predator. c) When the population of the predator is low, the prey recovers and its population increases. This will result in an increase in the population of the predator.

The population sizes of both predator and prey are maintained in dynamic equilibrium even as they fluctuate together. However, the fluctuations in the predator population usually lag slightly behind those of the prey.

The prey-predator relationship helps to control the population of organisms in an ecosystem and maintain balance in nature.









Competition • • • Competition is the interaction between two organisms or two populations to obtain common basic needs of life that are limited. The common basic need are space, water, minerals, sunlight, food and mates for plants and animals. In a competition, organisms which are strong will obtain their common basic needs to survive and hence win in the competition. The organisms which are weak will migrate to other areas or die. • There are two types of competition: a) Intraspecific competion

b) Interspecific competition i. Intraspecific competition • needs. ii. Interspecific competition • Competition between individuals from different species. Occurs between members of the same species of plants and animals to obtain their common basic


Colonisation and Succession Process • • • • • • The process of colonisation is a process in which plants start to The first plant species to inhabit a new place is called a pioneer They have special adaptations that enable them to survive on dry Pioneer plants are hardy plants which usually have dense root The pioneer species change the new habitat gradually to make the As a result, the new habitat which is not suitable for the pioneer

inhabit an uninhabited place and form a colony in the place. species. and nutrient-poor soil. systems to bind the sand particles and hold water and humus. habitat more suitable for another species to live. species is then gradually replaced by another new species and succession begins. • The process of succession is a process in which a certain dominant plant species in a habitat is gradually replaced by another plant species(successor species.) • These plants then become the new dominant species that can grow faster and so they out-compete the pioneers which grow at a slower rate.

Succession is a very slow and continuous process which occurs in

stages until a stable and matured community which is equilibrium with the environment is formed. • The stable and matured community is called the climax community. An example is the tropical rain forest in Malaysia.

3.1 • •

Colonisation and Succession in a Mangrove Swamp

Mangrove swamps are found in tropical and subtropical regions where freshwater meets salt water. The environmental conditions in the mangrove swamp which make it unsuitable for habitation are: a) Soft muddy soil b) Waterlogged soil which lacks oxygen c) Seawater with high salinity(high salt content) d) Strong sunlight and extreme heat.

There are three types of mangrove trees which are involved in the process of colonisation and succession in a mangrove swamp: a) Avicenni sp. and Sonneratia sp. (pioneer species) b) Rhizophora sp. (successor) c) Bruguiera sp. (successor)

Mangrove trees have adaptive characteristics to overcome the problems it faces in the environment. a) A root system that spreads out widely to provide support for the mangrove trees in the soft muddy soil. b) Breathing roots that protrude out of the soil and which are called pneumatophores. In waterlogged soil, which lacks oxygen the pneumatophores enable gaseous exchange occur at the roots. c) The leaves of mangrove trees have thick cuticle and sunken stomata to reduce transpiration in a hot environment due to the

strong sunlight. The leaves are also thick and succulent to store water. d) Many mangrove trees have viviparity seed that begin to germinate while still attached to the parent tree. This ensures that the seeds will get sufficient oxygen from the atmosphere during germination and will not be suffocated for lack of air in a waterlogged environment. It also prevents the seed from dehydration in the highly saline sea water. • The profile of a beach in a mangrove swamp can be divided into three zones according to the dominant flora. a) Avicenni sp. and Sonneratia sp. (pioneer species) b) Rhizophora sp. (successor) c) Bruguiera sp. (successor) i. • • Avicennia sp. and Sonneratia sp. zone The pioneer species in a mangrove swamp are the Avicennia sp. and Sonneratia sp. The Avicennia sp. grows in the part of the mangrove swamp that faces the sea while Sonneratia sp. grows at the mouth of the river which is sheltered. • The adaptations of the pioneer species to the soft muddy soil and waterlogged area are as follows: a) A root system that spreads out widely to give support to the trees in the soft muddy soil. b) The Avicennia sp. and Sonneratia sp. have asparagus-shaped pneumatophores that grows vertically upwards from the main roots through the mud into the air. The pneumatophores are very spongy and take in air for respiration of the root system. ii. • • Rhizophora sp. zone This zone is higher and less waterlogged. The adaptations of Rhizophora sp. for this zone are as follows:

a) The Rhizophora sp. has prop roots to support and anchor the tree in the soft muddy soil. b) The Rhizophora sp. has viviparity seed to ensure that the seedlings can grow and are not carried away by the seawater. iii. • • exchange. • As more sedimentation of decayed substances occur, new mud banks are being built up seawards while the old banks move further inland, away from the sea. The soil become harder and dry land is formed. • the climax community, is formed. Finally, after a few hundred years, the process of succession stops and a tropical rain forest, which is Bruguiera sp. zone Trees of Bruguiera sp. grow well Trees of Bruguiera sp. have in hard clay soil that subjects to flooding during the high tide. buttress roots for support and knee-shaped pneumatophores for gaseous

4.0 • • • • • •

Sampling Techniques The distribution of organisms in a community is affected by the biotic factors and abiotic factors. A sampling technique is used to study the population size of an organism. A sampling technique involves collecting, counting, and making observations on the organism studied. Sampling is done at random and systematically. The sampling technique to estimate the population size of an organism in a habitat is the capture-mark-release and recapture technique. The sampling technique to determine the distribution of plants in a habitat is the quadrat sampling technique.


The Quadrat Sampling Techniques

• • • • • •

The quadrat sampling technique is primarily used in estimating the size of the plant populations. The technique uses quadrat of specific size. A quadrat is a square frame made of wood, string or metal. The size of a quadrat used depends on the organisms being studied. Quadrat sampling is carried out at random in the habitat studied. The distribution of plants in a habitat being investigated is based on the following aspects: a) Frequency = Frequency is the number of times a pasticular species is found present when a quadrat is thrown a certain number of times.

b) Density = Density is the mean number of individuals of a species per unit area.

c) Percentage coverage = percentage coverage is an indication of how much area of the quadrat is occupied by a species. The percentage is useful when it is not possible to identify separate individuals.


The Capture, Mark, Release and Recapture Method

• • • • •

This method is used to estimate the population size of animals such as garden snails and wood lice in a community. In this technique, the first sample is the number of a certain animal that is caught, marked and then released. After a few days, a second sample is taken and recorded. The number of individuals marked in the recaptured sample is counted and recorded. Initially, a specific animal sample is captured and marked with a ring, a tag or with waterproof coloured ink, paint or nail varnish. The population size of the animals in the area can be estimated using the formula below:

5.0 • • • • •

Order of Classification Taxonomy is a branch of Biology concerned with identifying, describing and naming organisms. It is also a systematic method of classifying plants and animals based on the similarities in their characteristics. It enables communication among scientists and allows information about a particular organism to be found more readily. In the classification system, organism are classified and grouped into kingdoms based on their common characteristics. All organisms on Earth can be classified into five kingdoms. The five kingdoms are Prokaryotae, Protista, Fungi, Plantae and Animalia.


The Hierarchy in the classification of organisms • • Organisms are classified from kingdom (the largest) to species (the smallest) in the hierarchy system of classification. Each kingdom is divided into phylum. Organisms in the same phylum have the same specific characteristics. These characteristics differ from organisms in other phyla. • • Each phyla is then divided into class. Organisms in the same class have the characteristics but differ from organisms in other classes. Subsequently, class is divided into order, order into family, family into genus, and genus into species. Species is most specific classification based on the hierarchy.

6.0 • • •

Nitrogen Cycle The nitrogen cycle is important in maintaining the balance of nitrogen content in the water, soil and atmosphere. Microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi and algae play important roles in nitrogen cycle. The main processes in the nitrogen cycle are: a) b) c) d) i. Nitrogen fixation Decomposition Nitrification Denitrification

Nitrogen fixation • Nitrogen fixation is a process by which nitrogen in the air is converted to nitrogen compounds required for growth. • The nitrogen in the air that is trapped in the soil is absorbed by nitrogenfixing bacteria which convert it to nitrogen compounds as nitrates.

• The nitrogen fixation process is carried out by nitrogen-fixing bacteria and blue-green algae. • During thunderstorms, the energy of the lightning causes the oxygen and nitrogen to combine to form oxide of nitrogen. This gas involves in raindrops to form nitric acid which combines with the minerals in the soil to form nitrates and nitrites. ii. • • iii. • • • iv. • • • Decomposition Bacteria and fungi that are saprophytes carry out decomposition. These decomposers (putrefying bacteria and fungi) break down the protein in dead plants and animals into ammonium compounds. Nitrification Microorganisms that are involved in the nitrification process are nitrifying bacteria such as Nitrosomonas sp. and Nitrobacter sp. Nitrification is the process in which ammonium compounds are oxidized to nitrites and then nitrates in two stages. The nitrates formed are absorbed by plants for growth. Denitrification Denitrification is the process which converts nitrates to gaseous nitrogen. The microorganisms involved in denitrification is the denitrifying bacteria. Through this bacterial process, nitrogen is returned to the atmosphere.

7.0 • • •

Microorganisms and its benefits in life Microorganisms are microscopic organisms that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Microorganisms are all around us and affect our life. Microorganisms can be classified into five types based on their basic characteristics. a) Protozoa b) Fungi c) Algae d) Bacteria e) Virus


Abiotic components affecting the activity of microorganisms

• The activities of microorganisms such as respiration, growth and reproduction is affected by the following abiotic components: a) Temperature b) pH level c) Light d) Nutrients i. Temperature • The optimum temperature for the growth of most microorganisms is 35°C - 40°C. • At temperature above 60°C, most microorganisms die as the high temperature is not suitable for growth and reproduction of microorganisms.

• This is because at very high temperatures, enzymes (protein) in the microorganisms are denatured. ii. pH value • Every microorganism has it own optimum pH value. • A slightly alkaline medium is more suitable for the growth and reproduction of bacteria. A slightly acidic medium is more suitable for the growth of fungi. • A pH value that is too low or too high can inhibit growth and destroy most microorganisms. iii. Light • • • iv. Microorganisms that are autotrophs need light for photosynthesis. The activities of other microorganisms is inhibited under a high light intensity because the ultraviolet rays can destroy these microorganisms. In the dark (low light intensity), growth and reproduction of microorganisms such as fungi, bacteria and protozoa occur actively. Nutrients • Proper nutrients are required for the activities of microorganisms. • Autotrophs such as the algae obtain its inorganic nutrients from the surroundings. • Microorganisms that are heterotrophs obtain their nutrients in the form of starch, fat, glucose and amino acis by means of saprophytism or parasitism.

7.2 •

The role of useful microorganisms in the ecosystem

Decomposition a) Decomposition of dead organic remains is carried out by a group of saprophytic bacteria and fungi, which are called the decomposers.


Decomposers breakdown the dead remains of plants and

animals and waste products of animals and release nutrients in the soil. • The nitrogen cycle a) b) c) d) e) f) g) Nitrogen is an important element in the synthesis Plants can only absorb nitrogen in the form of Nitrogen fixing bacteria can convert atmospheric For example, Nostoc sp. can be found freely in the They fix atmospheric nitrogen and convert it into When animals eat the plants, the organic of plant and animal proteins. ammonium ions and nitrate ions. nitrogen to a form that can be used by plants. soil and Rhizobium sp. lives in the nodules of leguminous plants. ammonium compounds. nitrogenis transferred into the body of the animals. When the animals and plants die, decomposition produces ammonia that can be converted into nitrites(by Nitrosomonas sp.) and nitrates(by Nitrobacter sp.) by nitrifying bacteria. h) • Alimentary canal of termites a) The flagellated protozoa called Trichonympha sp. lives freely in mutualism in the alimentary canals of termites. b) The protozoa secretes the enzyme cellulose to digest the cellulose into simpler sugars which is then absorbed by the termite. c) The protozoa enables the termite to digest cellulose which is found in the wood it feeds on. • Digestive system in humans The denitrifying bacteria convert nitrates back into atmospheric nitrogen to complete the nitrogen cycle.

a) b) c)

The cellulose in humas is the undigested food which is Useful symbiotic bacteria are found in the human colon. They synthesise vitamin B12 and vitamin K. A deficiency in

channeled into the caceum of the large intestine.

vitamin B12 can lead to anaemia while vitamin K is essential for blood clotting.

7.3 • • • •

The harmful microorganisms Harmful microorganisms are microorganisms that can cause Microorganisms that cause diseases are called pathogens. Organisms which transmit pathogens are called vectors. Examples Other diseases that are transmitted by vectors are as follows: a) Elephantsiasis (caused by filarial worms) – Culex mosquitoes b) Typhus fever (caused by virus) - lice c) Plague – rats

diseases, spoilage of food and other materials through their activities.

are mosquitoes, houseflies, lice and rats.


Uses of microorganisms in Biotechnology • • Biotechnology is the development of techniques for the application of biological process to produce materials used in medicine and industry. Microorganism plays an important role in biotechnology.


Green House Effect • The greenhouse effect is the phenomenon of an increase in the temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere. • This due to the heat that is absorbed and trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere by certain gases(greenhouse gases) such as carbon dioxide, methane, chlorofluorocarbon and nitrogen dioxide. • These greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide, trap and absorb heat in the atmosphere, causing a rise in the temperature of the atmosphere. • As a result, the Earth’s temperature increases causing global warming.

• The following human activities can increase the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to cause a greenhouse effect: a) Burning of fuels in factories b) Forest fires c) Deforestation d) Open burning of rubbish e) Coal-fueled power stations f) Motor vehicles g) Use of chlorofluorocarbon(CFC)

8.1 • • • • • • •

Thinning of the ozone layer The ozone layer is located at the atmospheric layer called the The ozone layer absorbs the harmful ultraviolet rays and prevents Today, the ozone layer is becoming thinner because of the destruction The atmosphere in this area has very low ozone concentrations, The destruction of the ozone layer is mainly due to the increasing CFCs are a group of chemical compounds that contain chlorine, These gases are used as coolants in air conditioners and refrigerators,

stratosphere which is 20 – 50km away from the Earth’s surface. them from reaching the Earth’s surface. of the ozone gas. resulting in the formation of an ozone hole. levels of chlorofluorocarbon(CFC) in the atmosphere. carbon and fluorine. as propellants in aerosol cans and as foaming agents in the making of styrofoam packaging. • Effects of the thinning of the ozone layer which allows excessive a) On the environment ultraviolet radiation to reach the Earth.

o Increases in the temperature of the environment o Changes in the climate and weather patterns o Changes in wind direction. b) On plants o The rate of photosynthesis decreases due to the destruction of the stomata and chlorophyll in the leaves. o Disturbs the ecological balance by destroying aquatic organisms such as planktons. c) On human health o o o Causes skin cancer Damages eyesight and causes cataract Weakens the human immune system


Impact of the thinning of the ozone layer and the global warming • The average increase in the Earth’s temperature could change weather patterns and agricultural output. • There is also convincing evidence from research that links the melting of the polar ice caps into global warming. • This in turn leads to a corresponding rise in sea levels. • By absorbing most of the ultraviolet radiation, the ozone layer shields living organisms on Earth from the damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation.

9.0 • •

Eutrophication process Eutrophication occurs as a result of an abundant supply of fertilizers or sewage in lakes, pond or rivers. Fertilizers and sewage contain high concentration of nitrates and phosphates which encourage eutrophication. They promote rapid growth of algae and subsequently a rapid increase in the population of algae. • The algae that grow extensively cover up the surface of the lake, pond or river.

• • • • •

This prevents sunlight from reaching the plants in the lower depths of the water. As a result, the plants in the water die. The number of aerobic bacteria that decompose the dead plants also increases using more of the oxygen in the water. This reduces the concentration of oxygen in the water and results in the death of aquatic organisms. The rapid growth of the algae and the process of decomposition by the bacteria use up the oxygen supply in the water and thus increase the biochemical oxygen demand(B.O.D).

10.0 •

Biochemical Oxygen Demand (B.O.D) Biochemical oxygen demand is the amount of oxygen taken up by the microorganisms (bacteria and algae) that decompose organic waste matter in water.

B.O.D is used as a measure of the amount of certain types of organic pollutants in water. Hence, B.O.D can be used to measure the level of water pollution.

• • •

A high B.O.D indicates the presence of a large number of microorganisms which suggest a high level of pollution. The higher the B.O.D value, the more polluted is the water sample. Polluted water contains a large amount of organic waste matter. This process of decomposition requires oxygen. As a result, much oxygen supply in the water is used up and the B.O.D value is high. The concentration of oxygen in the water is low.

Good quality water has a B.O.D value of less than 0.5mg of oxygen per litre.

Methylene blue solution is used to analyse the presence of oxygen in water.

11.0 •

Biological control Biological control is a method in which a predator, which is a natural enemy to a certain pest(prey), is used to control the population of that pest in an area.

• • •

Biological control is usually used in agriculture to control populations of pests without the use of pesticides. The prey-predator interaction is applied in biological control. Biological control has many advantages as compared to using pesticides. a) Does not pollute the environment b) Does not kill other organisms c) Is cheap and safe to use

The two types of interaction that happen in biological control are a) b) Parasitism – the parasite destroys crops Prey-predator – eventually removes the pest For example, Owls and snakes eat rats Fire ants eat aphids on leaves Rearing guppies in a pond to eat mosquitoe larvae Rearing cats to eliminate rats.

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