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INTRO TO ENVIRONMENTAL SYSTEMS Objectives Give examples of an environmental system Define ecology Define ecosystem, biosphere, population, community, and individual Differentiate between the levels of ecology and explain how they are different. Understand that ecologists use models to understand the world, and give examples of potential ecological models. What is an environmental system? In an ecological sense, we can think of the environmental system as a series of interactions within the biosphere, which is composed of the lithosphere, atmosphere, and hydrosphere. Biosphere Layer of the planet where life exists Comprised of Lithosphere Rocky layer of earth Hydrosphere All the waters of the earth Atmosphere Layer of gases surrounding the earth What is ecology? Ecology is the study of organisms’ relationships with their environment and each other. Ecologists study organisms at many different levels of organization. Think back to your bio days… What are some the major levels of organization within an organism? Organism Organ System Organ Tissue Cell In ecology, we also study different levels of organization Biome Ecosystem Community Population Organism/Individual Biosphere Levels of organization Levels of Organization Biosphere All living things and their environment Biome Major regional ecological community of plants and animals; usually corresponds to plant ecologists’ and European ecologists’ classification of plant formation and life zones Ecosystem The biotic community and abiotic environment functioning as one Levels of Organization Community A group of interacting plants and animals inhabiting a given area Population A group of individuals of the same species living in a given area at a given time Individual One organism of a species existing in the world Population Community Ecosystem Models Because many of the things ecologists study happen on a large scale, they use models to garner a better understanding of how the systems they study work. For example, Ecologists may be concerned about the way climate change will impact forests in North America. To make predictions about what effects climate change may have on forests, ecologists build a mathematical model to represent the forest and can change different climatological variables to predict impacts on the forest. Think-Pair-Share Take a moment to read through the selected reading. With a partner, brainstorm different models that ecologists could use to study systems.