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ECOLOGY

 Ecology is the study of how organisms interact with their environments.  The environment will
Ecology is the study of how organisms interact
with
their environments.
 The environment will determine where an organism lives.
ENVIRONMENT
Abiotic
Biotic
Abiotic environment:
This is the non living aspect of an environment.
 It includes all natural, physical features in the
environment.
Examples of abiotic environments:
a)
habitat
b)
atmospheric pressure
c)
light
d)
temperature
i) humidity
j) water availability
k) wave currents
l) pollution

e)

f)

g)

h)

pH of the soil

amount of minerals in soil

wind

amount of rain

Biotic environment:

The living aspect of the environment.

All the relationships that organisms have with other organisms.

Examples of biotic environments: a) Predator – Prey relationship b) Symbiotic relationship c) Looking for mate
Examples of biotic environments:
a)
Predator – Prey relationship
b)
Symbiotic relationship
c)
Looking for mate
d)
Social animals (ex: bees)
e)
Parasite – Host relationship
f)
Humans are the most powerful biotic factor

Ecological Terms

Biosphere: Places on Earth where organisms can be found:

sea, land, soil, air.

Hydrosphere: Aquatic environment: sea, lake, rivers, ponds. Habitat: The exact location where an organism lives: Ex:
Hydrosphere: Aquatic environment: sea, lake, rivers, ponds.
Habitat: The exact location where an organism lives:
Ex: Habitat of crab: crevices in rock pools
Population: A group of organisms
a)
of the same species
b)
living in the same place
c)
at the same time
Ex: A group of crabs in the same rock pool
Community: A group of organisms
a)
of different species
b)
living in the same place
c)
same time
Ex: crab, limpet, starfish, seaweed  community
Ecosystem: An area composed of living organisms interacting
with their biotic and abiotic environments
Ex: rock pool ecosystem

Niche: “Job” of every organism in an ecosystem (way of life):

Ex: niche of plants to perform photosynthesis Ex: niche of saprophytes to renew elements in nature and to remove dead bodies.

Trophic Levels

Way of classifying organisms according to how and what they eat. 1) Producers: Bring energy into
Way of classifying organisms according to how and what
they eat.
1) Producers:
Bring
energy
into
every ecosystem by
performing photosynthesis:
Ex: Autotrophs (plants and some protests [chlorella]).
2.
Primary consumers: Organisms that feed on producers:
Ex: Herbivores (sheep, caterpillars, grasshoppers)
3.
Secondary consumers: Organisms that feed on primary
consumers:
Ex: Carnivores (dog, cat)
4.
Tertiary consumers: Top Carnivores
Ex: lions, tigers, sharks, eagles
OMNIVORES: humans and pigs
5.
Decomposers: Feed on dead bodies of all organism
Ex: Saprophytes (some bacteria, some fungi, maggots).

Food Chains and Food Webs

Food Chains:

A food chain is the feeding relationships between organisms in an ecosystem.

Grassland Ecosystem: (always write ecosystem) Sun  LIGHT  Grass  Grasshopper  Lizard  Snake
Grassland Ecosystem: (always write ecosystem)
Sun  LIGHT  Grass  Grasshopper  Lizard  Snake
*Decomposers are present (always written)
Sun: Source of energy
Grasshoppers: Primary Consumers
Lizards: Secondary Consumers
Snake: Tertiary Consumers
Note:

Grass: Grasshoppers Ants Locusts Caterpillar

There is more than one predator to a prey. Food chains do not show real picture

Food Webs:

Food webs contain all the possible food chains ecosystem (linked together).

in

an

Ex: Rockpool Ecosystem 1. Seaweed  Shrimp  Crab  Humans 2. Seaweed  Human 3.
Ex: Rockpool Ecosystem
1.
Seaweed  Shrimp  Crab  Humans
2.
Seaweed  Human
3.
Seaweed  Shrimp  Human
4.
Seaweed  Chiton  Crab  Birds
5.
Seaweed  Shrimp  Sea Anemone
6.
Seaweed  Limpet  Human
Birds
Humans
Sea-Anemone
Crab
Chiton
Limpets
Shrimp

Seaweed

*Decomposers are present

Ecological Pyramids

Pyramid of Numbers Pyramid of Biomass We try to estimate the total number of organisms in
Pyramid of Numbers
Pyramid of Biomass
We try to estimate the
total number of organisms
in each trophic level.
We try to estimate the
total mass of organisms
in each trophic level.
How to construct the pyramid:
a)
Choose an ecosystem
b)
Classify the organisms in their respective trophic levels.
c)
Count the number of organisms / the total mass of the
organisms.
d)
Represent the results graphically.

Pyramid of Numbers

In a balanced ecosystem, the number of: Producers > 1° consumers > 2° consumers > 3°
In a balanced ecosystem, the number of:
Producers > 1° consumers > 2° consumers > 3° consumers
This is because the energy demands of the organisms in the
higher trophic levels are great.
Plot a pyramid of numbers for the following:
Tree  Grasshopper  Lizard  Snake

ALWAYS IN THE SAME ORDER

Pyramid of Biomass

In a balanced ecosystem:

Mass Producers > 1° consumers > 2° consumers > 3° consumers
Mass Producers > 1° consumers > 2° consumers > 3° consumers

Flow of Energy in an Ecosystem

Flow of Energy in an Ecosystem

Why is only 10% energy transferred from producers to primary consumers?

  • a) A herbivores can egest parts of the plant.

  • b) The herbivore loses energy when searching for the food.

c) Not all plants are palatable (edible). d) Not all parts are eaten. e) Not all
c)
Not all plants are palatable (edible).
d)
Not all parts are eaten.
e)
Not all plant parts can be reached.

Water Cycle

Water Cycle

Carbon Cycle

Carbon Cycle

Carbon Cycle

CO 2

is

removed

photosynthesis.

from

the

atmosphere

only

by

CO 2 is put back in the environment by three processes: a) Respiration b) Decomposition c)
CO 2 is put back in the environment by three processes:
a)
Respiration
b)
Decomposition
c)
Combustion
If
CO 2
is
to
stay
at
a
balance,
the
rate
of
photosynthesis should be equal to the rate of respiration,
combustion and decomposition.
Rate of Photosynthesis = Rate of combustion, decomposition
and respiration.
This is not the present situation due to deforestation and
the increase in the burning of fossil fuels.

Nitrogen Cycle

Nitrogen Cycle

Nitrogen Cycle

Bacteria

Beneficial Harmful  Nitrifying bacteria  Nitrogen fixing bacteria  Decomposers Denitrifiers Aerobic organisms Anaerobic organisms
Beneficial
Harmful
Nitrifying bacteria
 Nitrogen fixing bacteria
 Decomposers
Denitrifiers
Aerobic organisms
Anaerobic organisms
Live in well aerated soil
Live in water logged soil

SOIL

When acted upon by rain, wind and snow, rocks break down very slowly into small pieces. Since this comes about by weather, it is known as weathering. Soil is derived from weathered rocks. The particles which make up the soil have different sizes and weights. The largest particles are found at the very bottom and the smallest ones settle on top. Humus consists of rotting plants and animal wastes in the soil. Humus makes the soil more fertile. There are three types of soil; sandy, clayey and loam.

SOIL When acted upon by rain, wind and snow, rocks break down very slowly into small
Sandy Clayey Loam Made up of large particles. Made up of small particles. Made up of
Sandy
Clayey
Loam
Made up of large
particles.
Made up of small
particles.
Made up of a
mixture of clay
and sand
Large spaces
between particles
Small spaces
between particles
Medium size
spaces between
particles.
Water is easily
lost.
Water accumulates
(water logged soil)
Water circulates
easily.
Minerals are
easily lost.
Minerals accumulate
making the soil
acidic.
Minerals circulate
easily.
Easy to work.
Hard to work.
Ideal to work.
Loam is the ideal soil.
Sandy soils are improved by adding manure and fertilizers
Clayey soils are improved by adding lime (CaO) which
neutralizes the soil.

Components of fertile soil

  • a) Inorganic matter: sand / silt / clay aerate the soil and

allow circulation of water.

b) Organic matter: Humus  dead remains of organisms that increase NO 3 content. c) Air:
b)
Organic matter: Humus  dead remains of organisms that
increase NO 3 content.
c)
Air: Aerobic respiration
d)
Water: Transport medium in soil (transports substances).
e)
Beneficial organisms: Bacteria, Fungi, Earthworms
Earthworms:
i)
Plough the soil
ii) Make the soil finer  increases surface area for better
aeration and drainage.
iii) Fertilize the soil  Drag leaves, hide them in soil,
decomposers act upon them.
Earthworms are not decomposers.

Soil Experiments (4 experiments)

Experiment 1: To find out the different components of soil:

1. Soil was put in a beaker

2. Water was added 3. The mixture was stirred and left to settle. 4. The large
2. Water was added
3. The mixture was stirred and left to settle.
4. The large particles settle at the bottom whilst the small
particles settle at the top.
Experiment 2: To sample. find the percentage of water in a soil 1. Take a soil
Experiment 2: To
sample.
find the percentage of
water
in
a
soil
1.
Take a soil sample and put it in a crucible. Weigh it; this is
reading A
2.
Heat
it
in
an oven
at
200°C for
30 minutes.
Water
evaporates.
3.
Let it cool and weigh again. This is reading B.
4.
Reading A – Reading B = weight of water
5.
Weight of water
Reading A
X
100 = %water (15% - 20% normally)

Experiment 3: To find the percentage humus in a soil sample.

  • 1. Take a sample of DRY soil and put it in a crucible. Weigh it;

this is reading A 2. Heat it over a Bunsen flame for 5 minutes. The humus
this is reading A
2.
Heat
it over
a Bunsen flame
for 5 minutes.
The humus
decomposes into CO 2 and H 2 O.
3.
Let it cool and weigh again. This is reading B.
4.
Reading A – Reading B = weight of humus
5.
Weight of humus
Reading A
X
100 = %humus (7% normally)

Experiment 3: To find out the permeability of soil

1. Pour a known volume of water through the three soil samples. 2. Note: (i) How
1. Pour a known volume of water through the three soil
samples.
2. Note:
(i) How much water passes through.
(ii) How long it takes.
Sandy soil is the most permeable.
Clayey soil is the least permeable.
End of Form III Syllabus