Download Within each ecosystem, there are habitats which may also vary in size

Survey
yes no Was this document useful for you?
   Thank you for your participation!

* Your assessment is very important for improving the work of artificial intelligence, which forms the content of this project

Document related concepts

Ecosystem services wikipedia, lookup

Introduced species wikipedia, lookup

Island restoration wikipedia, lookup

Overexploitation wikipedia, lookup

Herbivore wikipedia, lookup

Ecological fitting wikipedia, lookup

Bifrenaria wikipedia, lookup

Pleistocene Park wikipedia, lookup

Biogeography wikipedia, lookup

Latitudinal gradients in species diversity wikipedia, lookup

Local food wikipedia, lookup

Biodiversity action plan wikipedia, lookup

Restoration ecology wikipedia, lookup

Human impact on the nitrogen cycle wikipedia, lookup

Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project wikipedia, lookup

Reconciliation ecology wikipedia, lookup

Sustainable agriculture wikipedia, lookup

Molecular ecology wikipedia, lookup

Habitat conservation wikipedia, lookup

Natural environment wikipedia, lookup

Lake ecosystem wikipedia, lookup

Ecosystem wikipedia, lookup

Renewable resource wikipedia, lookup

Ecology wikipedia, lookup

Food web wikipedia, lookup

Theoretical ecology wikipedia, lookup

Habitat wikipedia, lookup

Transcript
STEP Grade 9 Biology
Michelle V. Hall
Ecology Notes
Species
Species are the different kinds of organisms found on the Earth. 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.
Populations
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. 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.
Communities
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.
In general, ecologists believe that a community that has a high diversity is more complex and stable than
a community that has a low diversity. This theory is founded on the observation that the food webs of
communities of high diversity are more interconnected. Greater interconnectivity causes these systems to
be more resilient to disturbance. If a species is removed, those species that relied on it for food have the
option to switch to many other species that occupy a similar role in that ecosystem. In a low diversity
ecosystem, possible substitutes for food may be non-existent or limited in abundance.
Ecosystems
Ecosystems are dynamic entities composed of the biological community and the abiotic environment. An
ecosystem's abiotic and biotic composition and structure is determined by the state of a number of
interrelated environmental factors. Changes in any of these factors (for example: nutrient availability,
temperature, light intensity, grazing intensity, and species population density) will result in dynamic
changes to the nature of these systems. 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
seedlings.
Ecology
1
STEP Grade 9 Biology
Michelle V. Hall
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 time. All of the populations interact and form a community. The community of living things
interacts with the non-living world around it to form the ecosystem. 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. Two different populations can not occupy the same niche at the same
time, however. So the processes of competition, predation, cooperation, and symbiosis occur.
In general, a habitat is any place where a particular animal or plant species lives. It can also be thought of
as the environment or surroundings of a species. Examples of a habitat include a lake, a stream, or even a
drop of water.
All habitats on Earth is part of the biosphere. The parts of Earth where life is found, including the land,
bodies of water, and the lower part of the atmosphere. Since the Earth is always changing, habitats are
continually evolving as well. Over billions of years, the natural habitats have supported a great variety of
species. Another major factor affecting habitats are humans. Things we do can increase or decrease the
number of certain species.
Descriptions of environment such as temperature and rainfall are used to group habitats together.
Habitats of similar climate and vegetation are called biomes. In different parts of the world, the same
biome may contain different species, but similar life-forms can always be identified. For example, the tree
is the dominant form of the rain forest, no matter where the rain forest is located.
Biomes
Living organisms prefer certain climatic conditions. This means that animals and plants are usually found
only in regions that suit them. A tiger, for example, will be found in a region of high temperature and
high humidity. Such a region of the biosphere is called a tropical rain forest. This is an example of a
biome. A biome is a region of the Earth which has a characteristic combination of climatic conditions and
living organisms.
Tundra
Where the climate is cold and arid and only small plants can grow. Very few animals can survive because
of the lack of liquid water.
Taiga
Taiga is the Russian word for forest and is the largest biome in the world. It stretches over Eurasia and
North America. The taiga is located near the top of the world, just below the tundra biome. The winters in
the taiga are very cold with only snowfall.
The Coniferous Forest
Can be in a cold, temperate, or mountain climate and is made up of evergreen trees such as fir and cedar
trees. The ground is covered with is covered with needles and mosses.
Temperate Deciduous Forest
Ideal for bears and deer because the trees in it are widely spaced apart and the climate is temperate.
Ecology
2
STEP Grade 9 Biology
Michelle V. Hall
The Prairie
Also called temperate grassland. Where a temperate climate allows grasses to grow and antelope or bison
to live.
The Savannah
Also called tropical grassland - where a tropical climate allows some trees and bushes to grow among the
grasses and where zebras and elephants live.
The Desert
Where the climate is hot and arid and where cacti and reptiles live.
Tropical Rain Forest
Where the climate is hot and humid. Perfect for green plants with big leaves, monkeys, parrots and tigers.
Scientists have recognized that life can be organized into several different levels of function and
complexity. These functional levels are: species, populations, communities, and ecosystems.
Species
Species are the different kinds of organisms found on the Earth. 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.
Populations
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. 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.
Communities
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.
In general, ecologists believe that a community that has a high diversity is more complex and stable than
a community that has a low diversity. This theory is founded on the observation that the food webs of
communities of high diversity are more interconnected. Greater interconnectivity causes these systems to
be more resilient to disturbance. If a species is removed, those species that relied on it for food have the
option to switch to many other species that occupy a similar role in that ecosystem. In a low diversity
ecosystem, possible substitutes for food may be non-existent or limited in abundance.
Ecology
3
STEP Grade 9 Biology
Michelle V. Hall
Ecosystems
Ecosystems are dynamic entities composed of the biological community and the abiotic environment. An
ecosystem's abiotic and biotic composition and structure is determined by the state of a number of
interrelated environmental factors. Changes in any of these factors (for example: nutrient availability,
temperature, light intensity, grazing intensity, and species population density) will result in dynamic
changes to the nature of these systems. 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
seedlings.
Overview
The main concepts we are trying to get across in this section concern how energy moves through an
ecosystem. If you can understand this, you are in good shape, because then you have an idea of how
ecosystems are balanced, how they may be affected by human activities, and how pollutants will move
through an ecosystem. If you had Biology 101, this should be review; if you had Geology 101, this is new
stuff. Either way, it is pretty basic and you shouldn't have much trouble reading this material or the
associated material in the text.
Roles of Organisms
Organisms can be either producers or consumers in terms of energy flow through an ecosystem. Producers
convert energy from the environment into carbon bonds, such as those found in the sugar glucose. Plants
are the most obvious examples of producers; plants take energy from sunlight and use it to convert
carbon dioxide into glucose (or other sugars). Algae and cyanobacteria are also photosynthetic producers,
like plants. Other producers include bacteria living around deep-sea vents. These bacteria take energy
from chemicals coming from the Earth's interior and use it to make sugars. Other bacteria living deep
underground can also produce sugars from such inorganic sources. Another word for producers is
autotrophs.
Consumers get their energy from the carbon bonds made by the producers. Another word for a consumer
is a heterotroph. Based on what they eat, we can distinguish between 4 types of heterotrophs:
Consumer
Trophic level
Food source
Herbivores
primary
plants
Carnivores
secondary or higher animals
Omnivores
all levels
Detritivores
---------------
plants & animals
detritus
A trophic level refers to the organisms position in the food chain. Autotrophs are at the base. Organisms
that eat autotrophs are called herbivores or primary consumers. An organism that eats herbivores is a
carnivore and a secondary consumer. A carnivore which eats a carnivore which eats a herbivore is a tertiary
consumer, and so on. It is important to note that many animals do not specialize in their diets. Omnivores
(such as humans) eat both animals and plants. Further, except for some specialists, most carnivores don't
Ecology
4
STEP Grade 9 Biology
Michelle V. Hall
limit their diet to organisms of only one trophic level. Frogs, for instance, don't discriminate between
herbivorous and carnivorous bugs in their diet. If it's the right size, and moving at the right distance,
chances are the frog will eat it. It's not as if the frog has brain cells to waste wondering if it's going to mess
up the food chain by being a secondary consumer one minute and a quaternary consumer the next.
Energy Flow through the Ecosystem
The diagram above shows how both energy and inorganic nutrients flow through the ecosystem. We
need to define some terminology first. Energy "flows" through the ecosystem in the form of carboncarbon bonds. When respiration occurs, the carbon-carbon bonds are broken and the carbon is combined
with oxygen to form carbon dioxide. This process releases the energy, which is either used by the
organism (to move its muscles, digest food, excrete wastes, think, etc.) or the energy may be lost as heat.
The dark arrows represent the movement of this energy. Note that all energy comes from the sun, and
that the ultimate fate of all energy in ecosystems is to be lost as heat. Energy does not recycle!!
The other component shown in the diagram are the inorganic nutrients. They are inorganic because they
do not contain carbon-carbon bonds. These inorganic nutrients include the phosphorous in your teeth,
bones, and cellular membranes; the nitrogen in your amino acids (the building blocks of protein); and the
iron in your blood (to name just a few of the inorganic nutrients). The movement of the inorganic
nutrients is represented by the open arrows. Note that the autotrophs obtain these inorganic nutrients
from the inorganic nutrient pool, which is usually the soil or water surrounding the plants or algae. These
inorganic nutrients are passed from organism to organism as one organism is consumed by another.
Ecology
5
STEP Grade 9 Biology
Michelle V. Hall
Ultimately, all organisms die and become detritus, food for the decomposers. At this stage, the last of the
energy is extracted (and lost as heat) and the inorganic nutrients are returned to the soil or water to be
taken up again. The inorganic nutrients are recycled, the energy is not.
Many of us, when we hear the word "nutrient" immediately think of calories and the carbon-carbon
bonds that hold the caloric energy. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT that you be careful in your use of the word
nutrient in this sense. When writing about energy flow and inorganic nutrient flow in an ecosystem, you
must be clear as to what you are referring. Unmodified by "inorganic" or "organic", the word "nutrient"
can leave your reader unsure of what you mean. This is one case in which the scientific meaning of a
word is very dependent on its context. Another example would be the word "respiration", which to the
layperson usually refers to "breathing", but which means "the extraction of energy from carbon-carbon
bonds at the cellular level" to most scientists (except those scientists studying breathing, who use
respiration in the lay sense).
To summarize: In the flow of energy and inorganic nutrients through the ecosystem, a few
generalizations can be made:
1. The ultimate source of energy (for most ecosystems) is the sun
2. The ultimate fate of energy in ecosystems is for it to be lost as heat.
3. Energy and nutrients are passed from organism to organism through the food chain as one
organism eats another.
4. Decomposers remove the last energy from the remains of organisms.
5. Inorganic nutrients are cycled, energy is not.
Food Chains and Webs:
A food chain is the path of food from a given final consumer back to a producer. For instance, a typical
food chain in a field ecosystem might be:
grass ---> grasshopper --> mouse ---> snake ---> hawk
Note that even though I said the food chain is the path of food from a given final consumer back to a
producer we typically list a food chain from producer on the left (or at the bottom) to final consumer on
the right (or at the top). Note to international readers: In Hebrew or Aramaic, or other languages which
are read right-to-left, is it customary to list the food chains in the reverse order? By the way, you should
be able to look at the food chain above and identify the autotrophs and heterotrophs, and classify each as
a herbivore, carnivore, etc. You should also be able to determine that the hawk is a quaternary consumer.
The real world, of course, is more complicated than a simple food chain. While many organisms do
specialize in their diets (anteaters come to mind as a specialist), other organisms do not. Hawks don't
limit their diets to snakes, snakes eat things other than mice, mice eat grass as well as grasshoppers, and
so on. A more realistic depiction of who eats whom is called a food web; an example is shown below:
Ecology
6
STEP Grade 9 Biology
Michelle V. Hall
It is when we have a picture of a food web in front of us that the definition of food chain makes more
sense. We can now see that a food web consists of interlocking food chains, and that the only way to
untangle the chains is to trace back along a given food chain to its source.
The food webs you see here are grazing food chains since at their base are producers which the herbivores
then graze on. While grazing food chains are important, in nature they are outnumbered by detritus-based
food chains. In detritus-based food chains, decomposers are at the base of the food chain, and sustain the
carnivores which feed on them. In terms of the weight (or biomass) of animals in many ecosystems, more
of their body mass can be traced back to detritus than to living producers.
Ecology
7