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Chapter 3.

An Introduction to Ecology and the


Biosphere
• Ecology
– Is an enormously complex and exciting area of biology
– Reveals the richness of the biosphere
• Overview: The Scope of Ecology
• Ecology
– Is the scientific study of the interactions between
organisms and the environment
• These interactions
– Determine both the distribution of organisms and
their abundance
• Concept 1: Ecology is the study of interactions
between organisms and the environment
• Ecology
– Has a long history as a descriptive science
– Is also a rigorous experimental science
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
• Events that occur in ecological time
– Affect life on the scale of evolutionary time
Organisms and the Environment
• The environment of any organism includes
– Abiotic, or nonliving components
– Biotic, or living components
– All the organisms living in the environment, the
biota
• Environmental components
– Affect the distribution and abundance of organisms
Kangaroos/km2 Climate in northern Australia is hot and
> 20 wet, with seasonal drought.
10–20
5–10
1–5
0.1–1 Red kangaroos
< 0.1 occur in most
Limits of semiarid and arid
distribution regions of the
interior, where
precipitation is
relatively low and
variable from
year to year.

Southeastern Australia
has a wet, cool climate.
Southern Australia has cool, moist
winters and warm, dry summers.
Tasmania
• Ecologists
– Use observations and experiments to test
explanations for the distribution and abundance of
species
Subfields of Ecology
• Organismal ecology / organism
level
– Studies how an organism’s
structure, physiology, and (for
animals) behavior meet the
challenges posed by the
environment
– For example:
– Impala ( Aepyceros melampus)
• Back leg very stong Impressive
jumper: single leap -11 meter
– Kelah (tor tambroides)
2nd Level of Organization
• Population:
A group of
organisms, all
of the same
species, which
interbreed and
live in the same
place at the
same time.
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• Population ecology
• Concentrates mainly on factors that affect how
many individuals of a particular species live in an
area/
• Factor that effect the growth and regulation of
population size.
3rd Level of Organization
• Biological
Community:
All the
populations of
different
species that live
in the same
place at the
same time.
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Community ecology
– Deals with the whole array of interacting species in a
community
(c)
Community
ecology.
What factors
influence
the diversity
of species
that make up
a particular
forest?
• Ecosystem: relationship of smaller groups of organisms
with each other and with their environment
• Ecosystem ecology
– Emphasizes energy flow and chemical cycling among
the various biotic and abiotic components

(d) Ecosystem ecology.


What
factors control
photosynthetic
productivity in a temperate
grassland ecosystem?
5th Level of Organization

• Biosphere:
The portion
of Earth
that
supports
life.
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• The biosphere
– Is the global ecosystem, the sum of all the planet’s
ecosystems
– All the ecosystems on earth as well as the earth’s
surface, waters, and atmosphere on and in which
organisms exist and also, the sum of all living matter
on earth .
• Earth = atmosphere + lithosphere and hydrosphere
• Atmosphere= envelope of gases that surrounds earth
(nitrogen 78%) and oxygen (21%)
• Lithophere= solid outer layer of earth which includes
both the land area and the land beneath the oceans
and other water bodies
• Hydrosphere is the part of the physical environment
that consists of all the liquid and solid water at or near
the earth’s surface
Ecology and Environmental Issues
• Ecology
– Provides the scientific understanding underlying
environmental issues
• Most ecologists follow the precautionary
principle regarding environmental issues
– Basically states that humans need to be concerned
with how their actions affect the environment
• Most ecologists follow the precautionary
principle regarding environmental issues
• The precautionary principle
– Basically states that humans need to be concerned
with how their actions affect the environment
• Concept 2: Interactions between organisms and
the environment limit the distribution of species
• Ecologists
– Have long recognized global and regional patterns of
distribution of organisms within the biosphere
• Many naturalists
– Began to identify broad patterns of distribution by
naming biogeographic realms

Palearctic

Nearctic
Tropic
of Cancer Oriental
(23.5N)
Ethiopian
Equator

Neotropical
(23.5S)
Tropic of Australian
Capricorn
• Biogeography
– Provides a good starting point for understanding
what limits the geographic distribution of species
Species absent
because Area
inaccessible Predation,
Yes parasitism,
or insufficient Habitat
time Yes selection competition, disease
Dispersal
limits Yes Chemical
Behavior Biotic factors
distribution?No factors
limits (other species) Water
Abiotic factors
distribution?No limit Oxygen
limit
distribution?No Salinity
distribution?
pH
Soil nutrients, etc.

Physical Temperature
factors Light
Soil structure
Fire
Moisture, etc.
Figure 50.6
Dispersal and Distribution
• Dispersal
– Is the movement of individuals away from centers of
high population density or from their area of origin
– Contributes to the global distribution of organisms
• Natural range expansions
– Show the influence of dispersal on distribution

New areas
occupied Year
1996
1989

1974
Species Transplants
• Species transplants
– Include organisms that are intentionally or accidentally
relocated from their original distribution
– Can often disrupt the communities or ecosystems to which
they have been introduced
– Intoduced species
• Example: Florida(Everglades national Park), Burmese
phython (asian snakes can grow 6 feet/ year up to 10-12
feet in length as adults
– (eat alligator)
• Iguana (discarded) – gobbling up tropical plant at a rapid
rate
• African honeybee (Apis mellifera scutellata) –
– Produce more honey /America/ Aggressive
Behavior and Habitat Selection
• Some organisms
– Do not occupy all of their potential range
– Habitat selection is one of the least-understood ecological processes,
but it appears to play an important role in limiting the distribution of
many species.
• Species distribution
– May be limited by habitat selection behavior Example:
• Insect (european corn borer)Larvae will feed on a wide variety of
plants but occur exclusively on corn because the ovipositing females
are attracted by volatile odors produce by the corn plant
• Anopheline mosquitoes: carriers of disease (malaria) . Large areas of
water in the tropics are completely free of dangerous mosquitoes.
Habitat selection for oviposition sites by female mosquitoes appears
to restrict their distribution. Eventhough larvae can develop
successfully over a much wider range of condition than those in
which eggs are laid
Abiotic or Biotic?

28
Abiotic or Biotic?

copyright cmassengale 29
Biotic Factors
• Biotic factors that affect the distribution of
organisms may include
– Interactions with other species
– Predation
– Competition
– Parasitism
– disease
• A specific case of an herbivore limiting
distribution of a food species
100
Sea
urchin Both limpets A
80 and urchins
Seaweed cover (%)

removed

60 Only
urchins
Limpet
removed
40
Only limpets removed
B
Control (both
20
urchins and
limpets present)
0
August February August February
1982 1983 1983 1984
• A specific case of an herbivore limiting
distribution of a food species
EXPERIMENT
W. J. Fletcher tested the effects of two algae-eating
animals, sea urchins and limpets, on seaweed abundance near
Sydney, Australia. In areas adjacent to a control site, either the
urchins, the limpets, or both were removed.

RESULTS
Fletcher observed a large difference in seaweed growth
between areas with and without sea urchins.
• A specific case of an herbivore limiting
distribution of a food species

A. Removing both limpets and urchins or


removing only urchins increased Seaweed cover
dramatically.

B. Almost no seaweed grew in areas where both


urchins and limpets were present, or where
only limpets were removed.
CONCLUSION Removing both limpets and urchins resulted in the greatest
increase of seaweed cover, indicating that both
species have some influence on seaweed distribution. But since removing
only urchins greatly increased seaweed growth while
removing only limpets had little effect, Fletcher concluded that sea urchins
have a much greater effect than limpets in limiting
seaweed distribution.
Abiotic Factors
• Abiotic factors that affect the distribution of
organisms may include
– Temperature
– Water
– Sunlight
– Wind
– Rocks and soil
Temperature
• Environmental temperature
– Is an important factor in the distribution of organisms
because of its effects on biological processes
• Cells may rupture if the water they contain freezes (below
0°C); Proteins of most organism denature at temperature
above 45°C
• Thermophilic prokaryotes: can live outside the
temperature range habitable by other life.
• Internal temperature of organism
• Water availability among habitats
– Is another important factor in species distribution
– Freshwater and marine organisms live submerged in
an aquatic environment, but they face problems of
water balance if their intracellular osmolarity does
not match that of the surrounding water.

• Humidity
– Humidity can effect the rate at which water
evaporates from the surface of organisms. It also
effect the ability to retain water and resist drying
out.
• Light intensity and quality
– Can affect photosynthesis in ecosystems
Sunlight
• Shading forest
• Water depth – 1 meter, 45% red light will be absorb, only
2% blue light reach at the bottom
• As a result, most photosynthesis in aquatic environments
occurs near the surface
• Light
– Is also important to the development and behavior of
organisms sensitive to the photoperiod
• Short-day plants : flower when the night length is equal to
or greater than some critical period (12-14 hours) :
Ex: chrysanthemum
Wind
– Amplifies the effects of temperature on organisms by
increasing heat loss due to evaporation and convection
– It is also serve as an instrument in dispersal of spores and
seeds for plants.
– Can change the morphology of plants
• Inhibiting the growth of limbs on the windward side of
trees… “flagged” appearance
Rocks and Soil
• Many characteristics of soil limit the distribution of
plants and thus the animals that feed upon them
– Physical structure
– pH
– Mineral composition
• Marine: the substrates in the intertidal zone and
on seafloor determines the types of organism
that can attach and burrow in those habitats
• Nepenthes sp
Climate
• Four major abiotic components make up climate
– Temperature, water, sunlight, and wind
• Climate
– Is the prevailing weather conditions in a particular area
• Climate determines the makeup of biomes, the major types of
ecosystems.
– Annual means for temperature and rainfall are reasonably well
correlated with the biomes found in different regions.
• Climate patterns can be described on two scales
– Macroclimate, patterns on the global, regional, and
local level
– Microclimate, very fine patterns, such as those
encountered by the community of organisms
underneath a fallen log
Global Climate Patterns
• Earth’s global climate patterns
– Are determined largely by the input of solar energy
and the planet’s movement in space
• Sunlight intensity
– Plays a major part in determining the Earth’s climate
patterns
LALITUDINAL VARIATION IN SUNLIGHT INTENSITY
North Pole
Low angle of incoming sunlight 60N
30N
Tropic of
Cancer
Sunlight directly overhead 0 (equator)

Tropic of
30S
Capricorn
Low angle of incoming sunlight
60S
South pole
Atmosphere
Seasonal variation in the intensity of
solar

• The planet is tilted on its axis by 23.5° relative to


its plane of orbit around the sun
SEASONAL VARIATION IN SUNLIGHT INTENSITY

June solstice: Northern March equinox: Equator faces sun


Hemisphere tilts toward directly; neither pole tilts toward sun; all
60N
sun; summer begins in 30N regions on Earth experience 12 hours of
Northern Hemisphere; 0 (equator) daylight and 12 hours of darkness.
winter begins in
Southern Hemisphere. 30S

Constant tilt December solstice: Northern


of 23.5 Hemisphere tilts away from sun;
September equinox: Equator faces sun winter begins in Northern
directly; neither pole tilts toward sun; all Hemisphere; summer begins
regions on Earth experience 12 hours of in Southern Hemisphere.
daylight and 12 hours of darkness.

Figure 50.10
• Air circulation and wind patterns
– Play major parts in determining the Earth’s climate
patterns
GLOBAL AIR CIRCULATION AND PRECIPITATION PATTERNS

60N
30N
Descending Descending
0 (equator) dry air Ascending dry air
absorbs moist air absorbs
30S moisture releases moisture
moisture
0
60S
Arid Arid
zone Tropics zone
Figure 50.10
Intense solar radiation near equator
initiates a global circulation of air,
creating precipitation and winds

• Tropics: High temperatures


GLOBAL WIND PATTERNS

Arctic
Circle
60N
Westerlies

30N
Northeast trades
Doldrums
0
(equator)
Southeast trades
30S

Westerlies
60S
Antarctic
Circle

Figure 50.10
Regional, Local, and Seasonal Effects
on Climate

• Various features of the landscape


– Contribute to local variations in climate
• Bodies of Water
• Oceans and their currents, and large lakes
– Moderate the climate of nearby terrestrial
environments
2 Air cools at high elevation. 1 Warm air over land rises.
3 Cooler
air sinks
over water.

Cool air over water


moves
4 inland, replacing
rising warm air over land.
• Mountains have a significant effect on
– The amount of sunlight reaching an area
– Local temperature
– Rainfall
B. 3
A C

Wind
direction
Pacific East
Ocean
Sierra
Nevada
Coast
Range
A.As moist air moves in off the Pacific Ocean and
encounters the westernmost mountains, it flows
upward, cools at higher altitudes, and drops a large
amount of water. The world’s tallest trees, the
coastal redwoods, thrive here
B. Farther inland, precipitation increases again as the
air moves up and over higher mountains. Some of
the world’s deepest snow packs occur here
C. On the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada, there is
little precipitation. As a result of this rain shadow,
much of central Nevada is desert
• Ocean currents influence climate along the coast by heating or
cooling overlying air masses, which may pass over land.
• Coastal regions are generally moister than inland areas at the
same latitude.
• In certain regions, cool, dry ocean breezes are warmed when
they move over land, absorbing moisture and creating a hot,
rainless climate slightly inland.
• This Mediterranean climate pattern occurs inland from the
Mediterranean Sea.
Seasonality
• The angle of the sun
– Leads to many seasonal changes in local
environments
• Lakes
– Are sensitive to seasonal temperature change
– Experience seasonal turnover
B
A.

Lake depth (m)


Lake depth (m)

O (mg/L) Winter Spring O (mg/L)


0 24 8 12 0 24 8 12
8 8
16 16
24 20
4 44
4 24
4
4 4
O2 concentration 4C 4
4C
High
Medium

Lake depth (m)


Lake depth (m)

Low
O (mg/L) O (mg/L)
0 24 8 12 0 24 8 12
8 44 22 8
20
16 4
4 18
8 16
4 6
5
24 Autumn 4C Thermocline4CSummer24
D 3 C
• A. winter, the coldest water in the lake (0°C) lies just below the surface ice;
water is progressively warmer at deeper levels of the lake, typically 4–5°C at
the bottom.

• B. In spring, as the sun melts the ice, the surface water warms to 4°C and
sinks below the cooler layers immediately below, Liminating the thermal
stratification. Spring winds mix the water to great depth, bringing oxygen (O2)
to the bottom waters (see graphs) and nutrients to the surface.

• C. In summer, the lake regains a distinctive thermal profile, with warm


surface water separated from cold bottom water by a narrow vertical zone of
rapid temperature change, called a thermocline

• D. In autumn, as surface water cools rapidly, it sinks below the underlying


layers, remixing the water until the surface begins to freeze and the winter
temperature profile is reestablished.
• Lakes are also sensitive to seasonal temperature
changes.
• During the summer and winter, many temperate
lakes are thermally stratified or layered
vertically according to temperature.
• These lakes undergo a semiannual mixing, or
turnover, of their waters in spring and fall.
Turnover brings oxygenated water to the
bottom and nutrient-rich water to the surface.
• Microclimate
– Is determined by fine-scale differences in abiotic
factors
Long-Term Climate Change
• One way to predict future global climate change
– Is to look back at the changes that occurred
previously (Fossil record)
• Current geographic range and predicted future
range for the American beech (Fagus
grandifolia) under two climate-change scenarios
• A major question for tree species is whether seed dispersal is
rapid enough to sustain the migration of the species as climate
changes.
• American beech, Fagus grandifolia.
• Climate models predict that the northern and southern limit of
the beech’s range will move 700–900 km north over the next
century.
• The beech will have to migrate 7–9 km per year to maintain its
distribution.
• However, since the Ice Age, the beech has migrated into its
present rage at a rate of only 0.2 km per year.
• the beech will become extinct?????
Current
range
Predicted
range
Overlap

(a) 4.5C warming over (b) 6.5C warming over


next century next century
• Concept 3: Abiotic and biotic factors influence
the structure and dynamics of aquatic biomes
• Varying combinations of both biotic and abiotic
factors
– Determine the nature of Earth’s many biomes
• Biomes
– Are the major types of ecological associations that
occupy broad geographic regions of land or water
• The examination of biomes will begin with
Earth’s aquatic biomes

30N

Tropic of
Cancer
Equator
Continental
Tropic of shelf
Capricorn
30S

Key

Lakes Rivers Estuaries Abyssal zone


Intertidal zone (below oceanic
Figure 50.15 Coral reefs Oceanic pelagic
pelagic zone)
zone