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Ecology Study Guide 4: Ecosystems - Introduction by Hank Green
1. Define ecosystem using an example.

2. The main ideas that you will focus on this chapter are:




How the abiotic and biotic components of an ecosystem interact as a whole, which
boils down to two things:
a) How energy flows through an ecosystem
b) How matter (chemicals) cycles in an ecosystem
These are governed by the laws of physics.
Energy is required to produce organic matter (biomass) from inorganic (abiotic)
matter. This is called primary production. Hence the primary production of any
ecosystem depends on and is limited by the energy it receives and the nutrients
(inorganic/abiotic matter) it has.
As energy flows through the different trophic levels, only about 10% of the energy is
transferred from the trophic level below it. Since energy is used to make organic
matter, the dry mass of the trophic level is used to indirectly measure the available
energy in that trophic level.
The biogeochemical cycles of water, carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus.

Concept 55.1 – The Flow of Energy and Cycling of Matter in Ecosystems are Governed
by the Laws of Physics
3. Study Fig 55.4. Trace the flow of energy through the ecosystem.

Where does energy enter most ecosystems? How is it converted to chemical energy
and then passed through the ecosystem? How is it lost?
4. (6 min) (3 min) Watch these videos
and answer the same questions as in # 3.
5. The laws of thermodynamics make it possible for energy to flow from one trophic level to
another. State the first and second law of thermodynamics.
6. - The 10% Rule
Why is energy lost as heat during energy transfer from one trophic level to the next in an
ecosystem? (You need some knowledge of the second law of thermodynamics and the concept
of entropy to answer is question.)
7. State the Law of Conservation of mass and relate it to the cycling of matter in an

Ecology Study Guide 4

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sunlight is the ultimate source of Concept Table Here is a Ted video on the difference between gross pp and net pp. Justify your reasoning. But sometimes sewage and fertilizers can increase these nutrient levels triggering the growth of massive amounts of algae (called algal blooms). the long term effects of this could be Ecology Study Guide 4 Page 2 of 6 . It has also been calculated that only 1% of the visible light that strikes the earth is used in photosynthesis. Find out more at http://study. and in certain places in the ocean there are upwellings.In most ecosystems on Earth. See if you get the correct answer. Define primary production. and although it increases the primary productivity of the lake in the short term. a) Distinguish between gross primary production and net primary production b) Summarize how the gross primary production of an aquatic ecosystem was determined. What are detritivores or decomposers and what role do they play in nature? Give examples of these organisms. You will get the a) What are upwellings and why are they important? b) Why do upwellings occur in closed bodies (like lakes) of water seasonally? 16.During certain seasons in ponds and lakes. Determine the limiting nutrient for the Sargasso Sea samples from the data provided.If experimenters wanted to determine if nitrogen or phosphorus were limiting factors in aquatic samples. Why? 11.2: Primary Production and how it is Limited 9.8.html (This is a good but incomplete video from study. No need to subscribe.1 as required) 15. 12.) Then watch https://www.Usually freshwater lakes have nutrient limitations. how might the data table change if phosphorus was found to be the limiting nutrient? (Modify the data table 55. This process is called eutrophication.1. and how to calculate them in an aquatic ecosystem.http://ed.ted.What is meant by limiting factor? What factors may limit the primary productivity in aquatic ecosystems? 13. Why is this amount important for the ecosystem? 10.

Propose a possible explanation for this observation.What does assimilation of primary production mean? How is it used to calculate production efficiency of consumers? 22.Explain why there are only a limited number of trophic levels in an ecosystem. Ecology Study Guide 4 Page 3 of 6 . Many species of fish and other heterotrophs at all trophic levels die.If an insect that eats plant seeds containing 200J of energy uses 60J of that energy for respiration. Concept 55.Venus fly trap is a plant (yes.) 19. 25. Why is this ability considered to be an adaptation for these plants? (NOTE: An adaptation is any trait that increases the survival and reproductive ability of a species. Explain how each of these abiotic factors limit primary production on land. Notice that most biomass pyramids have greatest biomass on the bottom of the pyramid.Explain why the pyramid of numbers as well as the pyramid of biomass (in most ecosystems) tapers as we move up the trophic levels. excretes 100J in its feces. List at least four factors that limit primary productivity in terrestrial ecosystems.Discuss the pros and cons of adding fertilizers to soil to increase productivity. it photosynthesizes) that eats insects.deadly.What is net secondary production? Why is it significantly lower than the net primary production in an ecosystem? 21. Label the trophic levels on the figure. what is its net secondary production? What is its production efficiency? 23. Explain why the second pyramid of biomass is inverted. 17. 24. 18.3 – Secondary Production and Inefficiency of Energy Transfer 20.

26. Ecology Study Guide 4 Page 4 of 6 .4 Biological and geochemical processes cycle nutrients between organic and inorganic parts of an ecosystem https://www. Why do people who have limited diets in overpopulated (and usually poor) parts of the world eat low on the food chain? Concept 55. 27. Hank Green explains water and carbon https://www. Specify the roles of evaporation. Use the figure below to describe the water cycle. Note the key processes in each cycle. and rainfall. Nitrogen and phosphorus cycle Pay particular attention to the nutrient cycles in Figure 55.

In doing so. Ecology Study Guide 4 Page 5 of 6 . explain how carbon enters the living system and how it leaves.28. indicate the role of microorganisms in the cycle. and identify the reservoir for carbon. Use the figure below to describe the carbon cycle.

_____ 7. 30.______ 6. 11 Ecology Study Guide 4 Page 6 of 6 8. and denitrification.29. ______ 5. 32.________ . Use the diagram below to describe the nitrogen cycle. _____ 2. indicate the role of microorganisms in nitrogen fixation. nitrification.What is the relationship between temperature and rate of decomposition in an ecosystem? Propose an explanation for this observation._______ 3._____ Level 2: 4._______ Level 3: Do # 9. which one tends to be more localized in ecosystems? Why? 31. In doing so.Why is decomposition in hot deserts so slow? Test your understanding: Level 1: 1.Of the four matter cycles.