Ecology Concepts Ecology -- the study of habitats Levels of Organization individual -- one organism species -- a group of organisms that

can breed and produce fertile offspring population -- a group of individuals of the same species living in the same area community -- a group of different populations living in the same area ecosystem -- a collection of all the organisms that live in a particular area, along with their nonliving or physical environment biome -- a group of ecosystems with the same climate and dominant communities biosphere -- the part of the Earth that is inhabited by organisms Energy Flow -- Energy flows through an ecosystem in one direction, from the sun or inorganic compounds to autotrophs (producers) and then to various heterotrophs (consumers) Producers (autotrophs) Energy from Sun (photosynthesis) Energy without light (chemosynthesis) Consumers (heterotrophs) Carnivore -- organism that eats animals Herbivore -- organism that eats plants Omnivore -- organism that eats either plants or animals Feeding Relationships Food chain -- a series of steps in which organisms transfer energy by eating and being eaten.

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Ecology Concepts Food web -- a network of complex interactions between various organisms in an ecosystem

Trophic levels -- each step in the food chain (producers, primary consumers, secondary consumers, etc.)

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Ecology Concepts Ecological Pyramids -- a diagram that shows the relative amounts of energy or matter contained with each trophic level in a food chain or food web. Energy Pyramid -- only about 10% of of the energy available within one trophic level is transferred to organisms at the next trophic level. (Ex. 10% of solar energy stored by plants ends up in cows; and only 10% of that ends up in humans who eats cows, or 1% of the original energy)

Biomass Pyramid -- Biomass is the total amount of living tissue within a trophic level This pyramid represents the amount of potential food available for each trophic level in an ecosystem (Ex. 1500 grams of grain > 500 grams of chicken > 50 grams of human tissue). Pyramid of numbers-- since each trophic level harvests only about 1/10th of energy from the level below, it can support only about 1/10th that amount of living tissue.

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Ecology Concepts Nutrients and Biogeochemical Cycles Nutrient Limitation --- One factor that controls the primary productivity of an ecosystem is the amount of available nutrients. (Ex. with too much phosphorous, immediate increase in algae, resulting in algal bloom. Too much of one component can negatively impact ecosystem) Biogeochemical Cycles /Nutrients and Materials Cycles The Carbon Cycle Carbon is the key component of living things.

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Ecology Concepts Nitrogen Cycle Nitrogen is used in the production of amino acids, which combine to form proteins. Many sources of nitrogen -- atmospheric gas; results of decomposition: ammonia, nitrate (NO3), nitrites (NO2); bodies of water. Bacteria are essential to this cycle. Nitrogen fixation -- certain bacteria (nitrogen fixing bacteria) can convert atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia in soil. Other bacteria convert ammonia into nitrates and nitrites, which can be used by producers. Denitrification -- Soil bacteria convert nitrates into nitrogen gas.

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Ecology Concepts Phosphorous Cycle Phosphorous is key component of DNA and RNA, as well as fats in cell membranes and bones.

Water Cycle Water is essential for just about every process that takes place in the biosphere.

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Ecology Concepts Biotic and Abiotic Factors Biotic -- biological factors that influence an ecosystem Abitoic -- nonliving factors that influence an ecosystem

Common Food Relationships Saprophytes (Decomposers -- include heterotrophic plants, bacteria, and fungi) Herbivores -- animals that feed on plants and plant materials Carnivores -- animals that feed on other animals Predators -- carnivores that kill and consume their prey (Owls, wolves) Scavengers -- carnivores that feed on dead animals that they find (Vultures, buzzards)

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Ecology Concepts Community Interactions -- these interactions can powerfully affect an ecosystem Biodiversity -- Reflects the overall number of active populations within an eco-

system (Example: the non-diverse potato population) Competition -- this occurs when organisms of the same or different species attempt to use and ecological resource in the same place and the same time.

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Ecology Concepts Resource -- any necessity of life, such as water, nutrients, light, food Competitive exclusion principle -- no two species can occupy the same niche in the same habitat at the same time.

Predation -- an interaction in which one organism captures and feeds on another organism Symbiosis -- any relationship where two species live closely together Mutualism -- both species benefit from the relationship (Ex. flowers and insects)

Comensalism -- one member benefits, the other is neither helpednor harmed (Ex. remora and sharks)

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Ecology Concepts Parasitism -- one organism benefits, the other is harmed (Ex. tape orms and people)

Saprophytism -- fungi that live on dead organic matter and obtain their nutritional supplements by participating in the decay process.

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Ecology Concepts Ecosystem-wide Factors Habitats and Niches Habitats -- The place where an organism lives. Niche -- The role an organism plays in an ecosystem

Carrying Capacity -- The number of organisms that a habitat can support. Ecological Succession -- The change over time of land or water communities Trend toward balance Climax community -- The stable community which features the gradual replacement of one community by another. Can occur in steps or stages. The end result is a long period of stability for the ecosystem. Can be interrupted by catastrophic changes (examples: fire, hurricanes, earthquakes). Pioneer organisms -- The first organisms to populate a given location. Human Impact on Ecology Negative Impact: Population growth -- impacts demands on an ecosystem’s resources Global warming -- due to a surplus of CO2 Ozone shield alteration -- the loss of protection provided by the ozone layer. Extinction of species Disrupted ecosystems Pesticide Use Waste Disposal Positive Impacts: Waste Disposal Environment Law Technology
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