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Ecology &Ecosystem,

Scientists have recognized that life can be

organized into several different levels of
function and complexity.

These functional levels are: Ecology
ecosystems, populations, communities, and
Definition of Ecology
German biologist Ernst Haeckel in 1866, (The
term ecology or oekologie) defined it as "the
comprehensive science of the relationship of the
From Greek word ecology means (, oikos,
"household"; and , logos, "knowledge") the
scientific study of the distribution and abundance
of living organisms and the interactions among
organisms and between organisms and their

Ecology that studies the relationships that
living things have with each other and with
the environment in which they live.
Ecology is the scientific study of the
relationships that living things have with each
other and with the environment in which they
live: ecologists study ecosystems .
It is sometimes described as scientific ecology
to distinguish it from political ecology
(environmentalism), which refers to the
militant actions of environmental
Haeckel did not elaborate on the concept of
ecosystem, (and the first significant textbook
on the subject with the first university course)

The branch of sociology that is concerned with
studying the relationships between human
groups and their physical and social
environments. Also called human ecology.

The study of the detrimental effects of modern
civilization on the environment, with a view
toward prevention or reversal through
conservation. Also called human ecology.

The scientific study of the relationships between living
things and their environments. Also called bionomics.

It is sometimes described as scientific ecology to
distinguish it from political ecology
(environmentalism), which refers to the militant
actions of environmental campaigners.

Ecology - the branch of biology that studies
relationships between living organisms and
the non-living components of the
environment in which they live.
Ecology is the scientific study of the
relationships that living things have with each
other and with the environment in which they
Danish botanist, Eugenius Warming. identified
the word concept of the word ecosystem. He
said that an ecological community together
with its environment, functioning as a unit. So
he was the founder of ecology.

Ecosystem Definition
An ecosystem is a system whose members
benefit from each other's participation via
symbiotic relationships (positive sum
relationships). It is a term that originated from
biology, and refers to self-sustaining systems.

An ecosystem is therefore complex and dynamic
system constantly in motion. Preparation of
Nutrients, bio-geo chemical reactions take place.

Thus, ecosystems can range in size from the
whole earth to a drop of water, although in
practice, the term ecosystem is generally used
for units below the size of biomes, such as
sand dunes, or oak woodland. For this early

Ecosystems (short for ecological systems) are
functional units that result from the interactions of
abiotic, biotic, and cultural (anthropogenic)
Like all systems they are a combination of interacting,
interrelated parts that form a unitary whole. All
ecosystems are "open" systems in the sense that
energy and matter are transferred in and out.
The Earth as a single ecosystem constantly converts
solar energy into myriad organic products, and has
increased in biological complexity over time.
Natural ecosystems, made up of abiotic factors
(air, water, rocks, energy) and biotic factors
(plants, animals, and microorganisms).
The Earths biosphere, including the atmosphere
(air), hydrosphere (water), and lithosphere (land),
constitutes a feedback of cybernatic system that
reflects what Rene Dubos referred to as "a co-
evolutionary process" between living things and
their physical and chemical environments.

Ecosystem is made up of many smaller
ecosystems interlocked through cycles of
energy and chemical elements.
The flow of energy and matter through
ecosystems, therefore, is regulated by the
complex interactions of the energy, water,
carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur,
and other cycles that are essential to the
functioning of the biosphere.
Structure of Ecosystem
Composition of biological community
including species, their numbers, biomass, life
history and distribution in space.

Quantity & distribution of non-living materials
such as nutrient & water

Range or gradient conditions existing, such as
temperature , light etc.

Functions of Ecosystem
Rates of biological energy flow i.e. the
production and respiration rate of the
Rates of materials or nutrients cycles
Biological regulations such as regulation of
organisms by environment and regulation of
environment by organisms.

For example, a fire in the temperate deciduous forest
completely changes the structure of that system.
There are no longer any large trees, most of the
mosses, herbs, and shrubs that occupy the forest floor
are gone, and the nutrients that were stored in the
biomass are quickly released into the soil, atmosphere
and hydrologic system.
After a short time of recovery, the community that
was once large mature trees now becomes a
community of grasses, herbaceous species, and tree

Within each ecosystem, there are habitats which
may also vary in size.
A habitat is the place where a population lives. A
population is a group of living organisms of the
same kind living in the same place at the same
Two different populations can not occupy the
same niche at the same time, however. So the
processes of competition, predation,
cooperation, and symbiosis occurs.

A population comprises all the individuals of a
given species in a specific area or region at a
certain time.

Its significance is more than that of a number
of individuals because not all individuals are
identical. Populations contain genetic
variation within themselves and between
other populations.

Communities All of the populations interact and form a

The community of living things interacts with the non-living world
around it to form the ecosystem.

Community refers to all the populations in a specific area or region
at a certain time. Its structure involves many types of interactions
among species.
Some of these involve the acquisition and use of food, space, or
other environmental resources. Others involve nutrient cycling
through all members of the community and mutual regulation of
population sizes. In all of these cases, the structured interactions of
populations lead to situations in which individuals are thrown into
life or death struggles.

Species are the different kinds of organisms found on the
A more exact definition of species is a group of
interbreeding organisms that do not ordinarily breed with
members of other groups.
If a species interbreeds freely with other species, it would
no longer be a distinctive kind of organism. This definition
works well with animals.
However, in some plant species fertile crossings can take
place among morphologically and physiologically different
kinds of vegetation. In this situation, the definition of
species given here is not appropriate.

Even fundamental genetic characteristics such as
hair color or size may differ slightly from
individual to individual. More importantly, not all
members of the population are equal in their
ability to survive and reproduce.
The habitat must supply the needs of organisms,
such as food, water, temperature, oxygen, and
minerals. If the population's needs are not met, it
will move to a better habitat.

Names and word definitions
Producers. Organisms, such as plants, that produce their
own food are called autotrophs. The autotrophs, as
mentioned before, convert inorganic compounds into
organic compounds. They are called producers because all
of the species of the ecosystem depend on them.
Consumers. All the organisms that can not make their own
food (and need producers) are called heterotrophs. In an
ecosystem heterotrophs are called consumers because they
depend on others. They obtain food by eating other
organisms. There are different levels of consumers. Those
that feed directly from producers, i.e. organisms that eat
plant or plant products are called primary consumers. In
the figure above the grasshopper is a primary consumer.

Organisms that feed on primary consumers
are called secondary consumers.
Some organisms, like the squirrel are at
different levels. When the squirrel eats a corns
or fruits (which are plant product), it is a
primary consumer; however, when it eats
insects or nestling birds, is it is a tertiary
Herbivores are those that eat only plants or plant
products. Example are grasshoppers, mice,
rabbits, deer, beavers, moose, cows, sheep, goats
and groundhogs.
Carnivores, on the other hand, are those that eat
only other animals. Examples of carnivores are
foxes, frogs, snakes, hawks, and spiders.
Omnivores are the last type and eat both plants
(acting a primary consumers) and meat (acting as
secondary or tertiary consumers). Examples of
omnivores are:

Bears --They eat insects, fish, moose, elk, deer,
sheep as well as honey, grass, and sedges.
Turtles -- They eat snails, crayfish, crickets,
earthworms, but also lettuce, small plants, and
Monkeys -- They eat frogs and lizards as well as
fruits, flowers, and leaves.
Squirrels -- They eat insects, moths, bird eggs and
nestling birds and also seeds, fruits, a corns, and

This chain of energy transferring from one species to another can
continue several more times, but it eventually ends.

It ends with the dead animals that are broken down and used as
food or nutrition by bacteria and fungi. As these organisms,
referred to as decomposers, feed from the dead animals, they
break down the complex organic compounds into simple nutrients.

Decomposers play a very important role in this world because they
take care of breaking down (cleaning) many dead material.

There are more than 100,000 different types of decomposer
organisms! These simpler nutrients are returned to the soil and can
be used again by the plants. The energy transformation chain starts
all over again.

Photosynthesis explains how energy from the sun
is captured by green plants and used to make
food. Most of this energy is used to carry on the
plant's life activities. The rest of the energy is
passed on as food to the next level of the food
Those who feed on secondary consumers are
tertiary consumers. The snake acts as a secondary
consumer and the hawk as a tertiary consumer.

One doesn't find simple independent food chains in an ecosystem, but many
interdependent and complex food chains that look more like a web and are
therefore called food webs. A food web that shows the energy
transformations in an ecosystem looks like this:

One way to calculate the energy transfer is by
measuring or sizing the energy at one trophic
level and then at the next.
Calorie is a unit of measure used for energy. The
energy transfer from one trophic level to the next
is about 10%.
For example, if there are 10,000 calories at one
level, only 1,000 are transferred to the next. This
10% energy and material transfer rule can be
depicted with an ecological pyramid that looks
like this:

Energy is transferred by means of radiation,
conduction, convection & advection.
Radiation: A part of solar energy is reflected
by the earths surface and the remaining
energy is absorbed on the earth is called
Energy from the sun travels in the form of
waves at the speed of light 30, 000 km/s.
Conduction: conduction refers to the energy
transfer from one molecule to the other on
establishing contact. Heat is basically energy
in the process of being transferred due to net
difference in temperature between two
Convection: Convection occurs all fluids
where there is uneven heating of the fluid due
to formation of rising thermal plumes.

Advection: it is the horizontal transfer of
property like heat/temperature . As the air
moves across an area it transports the heat,
moisture, pollutants, pressure properties from
that area.
According to laws of thermodynamics
the energy cannot be created or destroyed it
can be changed from one state to another.
Whenever energy is transferred, there is a loss of
energy through the release of heat. (2
Law) i.e.
when electricity is converted to light some part of
energy is dispersed as heat in the surroundings.
Ecological succession
Communities of organisms do not spring into
existence suddenly but develop gradually through
a series of stages until reach a state of maturity.
The succession is replacement of one community
by the other as the condition within habitation
Ecological Niche: The interaction of each species
of animals and plants with other species in the
environment is spoken of as its ecological niche.
A zone of vegetation spreading or separating two
different types of community is called eco-tone.
The ecosystem classified into mainly three types.

Aquatic ecosystem
It performs numerous valuable environmental
functions like recycling of nutrients, purify water,
recharge ground water, augment and maintain
stream flow, provide habitat for a wide variety of
flora and fauna and recreation of people. A rapid
growth of population, unplanned industrialization
& urbanization lead to the pollution of surface
water and underground water.
Aquatic ecosystem classified into
Fresh water ecosystem: Springs, stream, river, or
lentic ( lake, pond, pools, swamp).
Marine ecosystem: Sea or ocean or estuary.
Standing water or lentic habitat: ponds, lakes,
Running water or lotic: streams or rivers
Again they classified on the depth
Littoral zone, which is shallow
Limnetic zone, which is open water up to the
zone of effective light penetration
Profundal zone, which is the bottom and deep
water area, where there is a paucity of light.

The importance of healthy aquatic ecosystems

Why is aquatic ecosystem health important to humans?
Because everything is connected, where an ecosystem
is out of balance eventually humans will begin to suffer
as well. Our health and many of our activities are
dependent on the health of aquatic ecosystems. Most of
the water that we drink is taken from lakes or rivers. If
the lake or river system is unhealthy, the water may be
unsafe to drink or unsuitable for industry, agriculture, or
recreation even after treatment. Uses of aquatic
ecosystems are impaired when these systems are
unhealthy. Following are some examples.

Inland and coastal commercial fisheries have been shut down due to fish or shellfish
contamination or the loss of an important species from the system.

The frequency of urban beach closures has escalated as a result of contamination by
animal feces and medical waste.

Navigation problems for pleasure craft, caused by the rapid expansion of bottom-rooted
aquatic plants, have increased.

The proliferation of non-native species has created problems. One recent example is the
rapidly expanding zebra mussel population, introduced from the ballast waters of a
European freighter into the Great Lakes.

Zebra mussels have few natural predators, and because the female can produce
30 000 eggs yearly, they are expected to spread throughout most of the freshwater
systems of North America. This mussel species is already clogging industrial and municipal
water treatment intake pipes, coating boats and piers, and causing beach closures.
(Clogging mean obstruction)

Aquatic Ecosystems Menu Previous Next
URL of this page:

Each day, pressure mounts on the unique ecosystems
that produce the fresh water vital to all life. Invasive
aquatic vegetation degrades water quality, causing
health problems for people, loss of habitat for fish and
wildlife, and a decrease in property values.
It also impacts recreational activities. Although
traditional management techniques and tools are
available, there is a pressing need to develop new
strategies and refine existing ones that can selectively
control these aggressive weeds in an environmentally
compatible fashion.

Technological improvements can only be achieved
through competent and sustainable research and
development (R&D) programs.
In the past, the federal government has played the
prominent role in maintaining a coalition of research
scientists, natural resource agencies, academic
institutions, and private sector interests for studying
and managing nuisance aquatic and wetland
vegetation. However, significant reductions in agency
funded R&D programs have created a technological
void while invasive aquatic and riparian weeds
continue to spread and cause grave environmental
The AERF was formed to fill this void.
Website by NDR Research:

Terrestrial Ecosystem

Three types
Coniferous- low temperature half the year through out.
Deciduous- rain fall 750-1500 mm, moderate
temperature. i.e. oakes, chestnuts, maples
Evergreen Subtropical- i.e. moisture is high,
temperature varies summer & winter.
Tropical Rain-rainfall 2000 to 2500mm per year.

Grasslands-Annual rainfall 250-750mm.
Provide natural grazing to the animals.
Desert- 25cm annual precipitation. They lose
water due to evaporation
Biomes-A higher level of ecological
organization than the ecosystem is biome .
A regional ecosystem characterized by distinct types of
vegetation, animals, and microbes that have developed
under specific soil and climatic conditions.
Recognizable community units formed by the
interaction of regional climate, regional biota, and
substrate. The same biome units generally can be
found on different continents at the same latitudes
that produce about the same weather conditions and
where topography is similar. Biomes are the largest
land community units recognized.

Oxygen cycle: It absorbed by plants and animals
from the air during respiration. Plants returns
oxygen during photosynthesis. Deforestation
reduces the oxygen levels in atmosphere

Carbon cycle: Carbon dioxide is released into atmosphere by animal
respiration, plant decay and burning of fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide is
absorbed into oceans through photosynthesis by phytoplankton. Trees and
plants store carbon dioxide in the form of carbohydrates or complex sugars
and release oxygen back into the atmosphere.

Nitrogen cycle: Bacteria lives in roots of plants absorb nitrogen
) from air and fix it into compounds like nitrates (NO
) and
ammonia (NH
) for plant growth. Creatures like bacteria, fungi
feed on these plants release nitrogen in their wastes, which
decomposes and then recycles into atmosphere

Water Cycle: Circulation, transformation and replenishment of freshwater.
Forests moderate the water flows by leaves by the process called evapo-

Green Plants convert sunlight, water nutrients
and carbon dioxide into carbohydrates and
release oxygen to the atmosphere, which is
used by animals, human beings. Plants and
chemosynthesis bacteria convert energy from
sun and stored as chemical cycle.

Artificial Ecosystem
Which are man made ecosystems. Water
Tanks, Aquariums, croplands.
These will manipulated by the human activities.