Organization of the Ecosphere

Lithosphere Hydrosphere Atmosphere

solid, rocky portion of the Earth  The liquid magma interior and iron and nickel core  Responsible for the magnetic field that protects Earth from the solar wind  Composed mostly of silicate minerals 

Earth¶s structure: core, mantle, crust 

mineral resources originate here.  Life penetrates only to a shallow depth  Heat of the core powers tectonic motions.  Plate tectonics moves the crust in predictable ways.


of the Earth¶s surface is water.  Life penetrates the hydrosphere completely.  Water is the basis for all life as we know it.  Water has unique properties: 

is less dense than water  Cohesion, adhesion, etc. (hydrogen bonding)  Extraordinarily high heat capacity (ditto)


Extends far out into space; But only a rather thin layer supports life. All weather occurs within it. Layers: 

Troposphere Stratosphere Mesosphere Thermosphere

Energy in the Ecosystem 

of our energy comes from the sun.  Photosynthesis traps this energy for life.  Energy flows through the system. (one way)  Along the way much is ³wasted´ as heat.  Trophic relationships show energy flow. 

call these food chains or food webs.  We also can show an energy pyramid.

An Energy Pyramid ± the 2nd law of thermodynamics 

Top carnivores/omnivores 




The Types and Quality of Energy 

Mechanical ± energy of motion (kinetic) Electrical ± lighting, electronics, etc. Focused sunlight Chemical ± energy stored in bonds (fuels) Normal (diffuse) sunlight Heat ± normal ambient temperatures
Above energy sources are listed in order from highest to lowest quality

Energy Flows But Nutrients Cycle 

Cycle Cycle Cycle Cycle (and other minerals) 

Evaporation, condensation, precipitation, etc. 


Photosynthesis, respiration, combustion, etc. 


Nitrification, de-nitrification, etc. 


Sedimentation, erosion, decomposition, etc.

The Carbon Cycle

Nitrogen Cycle

The Phosphorus Cycle

The study of the interactions among living things (including man) and their environments

Major Environmental Issues 

Warming  Overpopulation by humans  Pollution of the environment  Extinction of life (Loss of Biodiversity)  Ozone Depletion  Depletion of mineral and energy resources

Ecological knowledge is essential for solving problems such as these.

How the world is organized 

are the smallest unit of ecology.  Populations are made up of all the organisms of one species that interbreed in an area.  Communities are made up of all the populations of all species that interact in an area.  Ecosystems are made up of all the communities and the physical environment of an area.  The Ecosphere is all of the ecosystems of Earth.

Everything is connected to everything else.
No organism is isolated.  All organisms interact with others and the environment.  All life is interdependent.  Organisms need each other to survive. (man, too!)  Disturbances in one part of an ecosystem will spread to all other parts (a ripple effect). 

Biotic and Abiotic Factors 

Biotic means ³living.´  

Abiotic is ³nonliving.´ 

other organisms:

environmental factors:

Food organisms  Predators  Competitors  Disease organisms, etc. 

Temperature  Rainfall  Salts (salinity)  Oxygen and CO2  Sunlight  Soil minerals/nutrients  Etc., etc.

Different organisms have different tolerances to particular abiotic factors. 

Example: Some like it hot. Some like it cold. Organisms seek environments they ³like´ best. We say they are adapted to that environment. Organisms respond to changes in environments. 
Migration  Hibernation (dormancy)  Torpor and

estivation  Temporary escape by behavior

Each organism has its NICHE. 

Niche means a way of life or role in an ecosystem. It includes all of the tolerances of an organism. It is how the organism gets its food. It is how it reproduces. It includes all its environmental interactions.
Where it lives  When it is active  What it eats  Etc. 

Classifying organisms by their niche 

Specialists have narrow niches. They only tolerate specific, limited conditions, have very specialized diets or live in only certain, small areas. Generalists have broad niches. They tolerate a wide range of conditions, eat a wide variety of foods, and live almost anywhere. 

Organisms Have Preferred Habitats 

preferences are based on an organism¶s niche and tolerances.  Four elements of habitat: 

(including minerals and air)  Water  Shelter  Space

Community Ecology
Species Interaction Species Richness and Diversity Succession

Species Interactions 
Predation  Parasitism  Competition  Commensalism  Mutualism

Predator and prey  Food chain or web  Regulates populations  An ³Arms Race´ of natural selection and coevolution  Camouflage, mimicry  Herbivory 

Parasite and host  Levels of harm  Ectoparasites  Endoparasites  Coevolution and adaptation 

Niche overlap  Limiting resource  Competitive exclusion  Adaptation by character displacement  Resource partitioning 


May be the most common form of symbiosis


You scratch my back and I¶ll scratch yours.

Species Richness and Diversity 

richness ± the number of species that live in an ecosystem diversity ± the number of species AND how evenly they are represented in the ecosystem 


Species Richness and Diversity 

species in warmer latitudes (tropics)  Species ± area effect (eg. fragmentation)  Islands have fewer species than mainlands  More species related to more stability 

diversity follows the same patterns.


in a community over time  Usually regrowth after some disturbance  Two types - primary and secondary 

species are the first to ³arrive.´  The climax community is the end result.

Primary Succession
Starts with bare rock  Takes a long time to produce a soil,  Then accelerates. 

Canadian shield  Volcanoes 

Secondary Succession
Starts after a disturbance to an existing community  Happens faster ± about 100 years or so 

Forest fires  Old fields  Etc. 


end result of succession (the climax community) is determined by climate and local features.  The major climax community of a large area of the Earth is termed a biome.  Biomes depend largely on temperature and precipitation and are very similar wherever they occur on Earth. For example, deserts in any part of the world share many features.

The Major Biomes of the World
Tundra ± cold and very dry  Coniferous Forest (Taiga) ± cold and moist  Deciduous Forest ± warm/seasonal and moist  Grassland ± warm/seasonal and dry  Desert ± cool to warm/seasonal and very dry  Savanna ± warm to hot and dry  Chaparral (shrublands) ± warm and relatively dry  Tropical Rain forest ± warm to hot and very wet 

Mountainous areas have altitudinal variations as well.

Aquatic Ecosystems (Aquatic Biomes)
± highly variable, occur on any continent ± flowing or standing  Marine ± the seven seas of the world ± also highly variable: 
Coral reefs  Open ocean (pelagic)  Near 


shore (littoral) 


± where fresh and salt water meet

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