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1.1: Sustainable Ecosystems I
Trouble for the Cricket Frog
The northern cricket frog is in trouble. This tiny member of the tree frog
family spends much of its life in or near water in areas such as marshes,
ponds, and streams. The northern cricket frog is currently considered
an endangered species in Canada. Cricket frog numbers have declined
for three main reasons: loss of habitat, pollution from pesticide, and the
introduction of carp that prey on the frogs.
Cricket frogs are amphibians. They have lungs for breathing but also
absorb dissolved oxygen directly
through their thin skins. When their skin is wet, oxygen from water or air
passes through their skin into an extensive network of blood vessels. Because
this dissolved oxygen enters their blood directly from water and air,
amphibians are especially sensitive to pollution.
But why would scientists care about amphibians? It is because they believe
that the health problems and decline in population of amphibians like the
cricket frog may be signs that other living things, including humans, are also
in trouble from excessive environmental pollution.
1. Look at the diagram.
(a) Which organisms are producers?
(b) Which organisms are consumers?
(c) What type of consumer is the squirrel? the snake? The hawk?
(d) What do you think would happen if the maple tree became
extinct? the snake?
2. The diagram below shows a woodland ecosystem.
(a) List two biotic features of this woodland ecosystem.
(b) List two abiotic features of this woodland ecosystem.
3. (a) Use the bar graph with the data shown to answer the following questions.
(b) What does the graph tell you about the deer population?
(c) What are some factors that may have caused a change in the deer population?
6. The circle graph given shows data on species of plants and animals in Ontario
that are at risk. Estimate the percentage of species that fall into each category.
Endangered %
threatened %
special concern %
extinct –
extirpated %
Life on Earth
Of all the planets in the Solar System, Earth is the only one
teeming with life. Millions of organisms exist in countless
habitats on the land and in the water on our unique planet.
Diversity of Life on Earth
A habitat is the place where an organism lives. Terrestrial habitats are found on land. Cacti and rattlesnakes live
on land in arid (dry) deserts. Enormous trees with swarming insects live in tropical rainforests. Aquatic habitats
are found in water. Colourful fish swim through the waters of the ocean’s coral reefs. Frogs and crayfish live in
small freshwater ponds. But what features of Earth permit such a diversity of life to exist?
p lives
• terrestrial habitat -->
• aquatic habitat >
er (coral reef, lake, …
Earth’s Spheres – The Biosphere
If you observed Earth from space, you would see that Earth is surrounded by a thin
gaseous layer swirling with clouds – the biosphere.
Biosphere includes all the ____________________________________________,
where life exists.
It is very thin relative to the whole Earth. If Earth were
represented by a beach ball, the biosphere could be represented
by a sheet of plastic wrap laid over it surface one layer thick.
The biosphere is the most important system on Earth because
not only is it our home, but it is home to countless other
organisms. Three main interacting components make up the
physical environment of the biosphere. They are the
atmosphere, lithosphere, and hydrosphere.
• __________________________________________________ that surround Earth and
support life
prevents Earth from getting too warm/cold
blocks the Sun’s harmful radiation (some)
• the rocky outer shell of Earth
consists of the rocks and minerals that make up the mountains, ocean
floors, and the rest of Earth’s solid landscape.
all of the Earth’s water in _____________________________________________in solid,
on, above, and below Earth's surface.
It includes oceans, lakes, ice, groundwater, and clouds.
oceans = 97%
All living things need space, water, and nutrients to survive. However, the supply of these resources is limited.
Ultimately, the availability of resources places a limit on the number of individuals of a species that can survive. All
life on Earth is vying for access to these resources.
1.2: Sustainable Ecosystems II
Consider a moose in the woods, moving through the spaces between trees.
The moose feeds on shrubs, trees, and aquatic plants around a small pond.
A beaver dam has formed the small pond. The animals, plants, and pond
water are all part of a complex system of living and non-living things.
all the __________________________________ in an area and their
non-living environment
interrelated – ______________________________________________________________________________changes in the
the study of __________________________________________ with each other and their environment
1. Which of the following are an ecosystem? Explain your reasoning.
(a) pond
(b) schoolyard
(c) all the cats in your neighbourhood
(d) tree
(e) vase of cut flowers
BIOTIC Factors - __________________________________________ in an ecosystem.
includes organisms, __________________________________________________________________________________heir
Examples: Insects, fungi, beavers, moose droppings, and shrubs
ABIOTIC Factors - The __________________________________________ of an ecosystem.
Includes physical things, such as __________________________________________ocks, air, and water
And things that are measured such as __________________________________________, and saltwater
NOTE! It is the interactions of the biotic and abiotic elements that help keep ecosystems healthy and
1. Classify each of the following as either a biotic or abiotic feature:
(a) temperature
(f) sand
(b) wind
(g) milk
(c) sunlight
(h) hair
(d) dead leaves
(i) ice
(e) spiders
(j) plastic
2. “Human activities change only the biotic features of an ecosystem.” Is this statement true or false? Explain
why or why not.
3. People living in northern environments are more likely to suffer seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is
a form of depression associated with low winter light levels. How is SAD an example of the relationship
between the biotic and abiotic parts of an ecosystem?
SAD is a form of depression (a biotic factor) associated with low light levels (an abiotic factor)
In most ecosystems, there are many different SPECIES - __________________________________________.
A POPULATION are _________________________________________________________________________________ that live in
the same ecosystem.
All the populations of __________________________________________ organisms in an area form a COMMUNITY.
All the __________________________________________of a given species with its ecosystem form the species’ NICHE.
BIODIVERSITY is a term used to express the ____________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________ in an area. Typically, the more organisms there
are the healthier the environment.
1. Does a population include abiotic features, biotic features, or both? Explain your choice.
2. Would you consider a large city to be a population or a community? Explain your choice.
Differences in Ecosystems
Ecosystems are highly variable.
They can differ dramatically in size and in their biotic and abiotic
features. We generally think of an ecosystem as a fairly large area,
such as a forest or a lake.
On a much smaller scale, the community of bacteria and fungi living
in a rotting log is an ecosystem. In this way, large ecosystems may
include many much smaller ecosystems.
Whatever the size, every ecosystem is characterized by a
distinctive set of features. For example, you could describe a
beaver pond ecosystem by its organisms or by its physical
characteristics, such as the temperature range, or water depth.
Biome - is a large geographical region that contains
similar ecosystems.
Land biomes are defined by the types of plants and also classified
according to the average temperature and the amount of rainfall.
Terrestrial Biomes
Canada’s five main terrestrial biomes are defined by their dominant vegetation.
• Deciduous forests - have trees that ______________________________________________ in the autumn, such as
maples and oaks. Southern Ontario
• Boreal forests (also known as taiga) have trees that ______________________________________________, such
as spruce and fir. Northern Ontario is covered with boreal forests.
• Tundra has no trees, only ______________________________________________, mosses, and lichens.
• Grasslands have few trees but are covered in various kinds of grasses and shrubs. Found in
Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and a small part of Alberta.
• Temperate coniferous forests have different types of needle- and cone-bearing trees than the
boreal forest: Douglas fir, Sitka spruce, and western hemlock. Most of western British Columbia.
Aquatic Biomes
Water-based, or aquatic, biomes fall under two main categories:
Marine biomes
• ____________________________________________________________________________________________ has a high salt
includes Coral reefs, the ocean floor, the open ocean, and the intertidal zones
Freshwater biomes
has a very low salt content.
____________________________________________________________________________________________include lakes,
streams, rivers, and wetlands
Use the terms in the vocabulary box to fill in the blanks. Use each term only once.
1. _________________________is a science that tries to explain the connections between everything on Earth.
2. Ecologists study how living things ___________________with each other and with everything else in their
________________________ .
3. A pond, a forest, a desert, an ocean, a human body, and Earth itself are examples of an
4. The living things such as trees, micro-organisms, and animals that live in a forest are the
_________________ parts of the ecosystem.
5. All of the non-living things such as soil, water, and nutrients found in a forest are the____________ parts
of the ecosystem.
6. An ant colony and a city are both examples of a land-based, or _______________________, ecosystem.
7. A river and an ocean are both examples of a water-based, or , _______________ecosystem.
8. The balance between abiotic and biotic parts of an ecosystem keep the ecosystem ______________.
9. Human activities such as cutting down a forest near a stream can upset the __________________in an
Short Answer
1. List three interactions that might occur between the biotic parts of a pond ecosystem (hint! Think
about what biotic means)
2. List three interactions that might occur between the abiotic AND the biotic parts of a pond
ecosystem (hint! Think about what you find in a pond how might they interact?)
3. Read the paragraph below. Circle the biotic parts and put a box around the abiotic parts.
In a stream along the coast of British Columbia, a female salmon hatches. It eats microscopic living
things in the stream and, as it grows, it swims out into the Pacific Ocean. Here, as it matures, it
stores nutrients such as calcium, nitrogen, and phosphorus in its body tissues. After a few years, it
starts the long swim back to the coastal stream where it began its life. Along the way, it dodges
seals, sea lions, and other predators. Finally, it arrives at its stream. After it lays its eggs, it is caught
and eaten by a grizzly bear. Later, the bear defecates. Decomposers release nutrients from the
bear’s feces (droppings) into the soil. Decomposers also release nutrients from the remains of the
salmon carcass into the forest soil. Trees and other forest plants absorb these nutrients. In turn, the
plants provide food for the forest-dwelling animals.
List two ways each ecosystems helps keep the forest ecosystem healthy. Use pictures if they help
Terrestrial ecosystem:
Aquatic ecosystem:
1.3: Energy in Ecosystems
Energy is involved in every activity on Earth
All energy
originates from
the _______!
Greenhouse gases
44% heats atmosphere and surface
drives the water cycle
used by PLANTS to produce FOOD
Transforms __________________________ energy (sun) into ___________________________energy (glucose)
Done by __________________________ (like plants!)
Cellular Respiration
Transforms chemical
energy into useable
Done by most living
things (like us!)
A complimentary process that supports one another.
When you breathe, it is the oxygen gas in the air that keeps you alive. About 21% of the atmosphere is made of oxygen,
and almost all of it was produced through photosynthesis. Both trees and algae in Earth’s terrestrial and aquatic
ecosystems produce most of the world’s oxygen.
Interactions in Ecosystems
Every species interacts with its environment and other species. These interactions are referred to as the
species’ ecological niche.
þ The ecological niche of a species is the __________________________ of a species within its ecosystem. T
This includes ______________________________________________________________________________
No two species have the exact same identical niche.
The niche of a black bear:
it eats plants/animals
carries seeds
hosts parasites and blood feeding insects
Food Chain and Food Webs
The flow of energy involves interactions between many living things:
Producer (autotroph):
o gets energy by __________________________ its own food
Consumer (heterotroph):
o Herbivore: Gets energy by eating
o Carnivore: gets energy by eating __consumers_______
o Omnivore: gets energy by eating __________________________ and __________________________
o Scavenger: gets energy by eating dead organisms
o Saprovore/ Decomposers – A Special Group of Consumers
fungi and bacteria
use enzymes to break organic matter down and release the
nutrients back into the ecosystem
link the biotic and abiotic world
Food Chain
A __________________________ chain model that
describes how __________________________ is
passed from one living thing to another (one
indicates the position of an organism in a food
1st – producer
2nd – primary consumer
3rd – secondary consumer
4th – tertiary consumer
Food Webs
þ Food webs are a representation of the feeding
relationships within a community which show
_______________________________________ food chains
þ They can be more accurate, but still incomplete
þ With larger and more complex interactions, it ___________________________________________ of any one
species to the loss or decline of another species.
(the more complex the more stable)
1. How many of the following are there?
(a) food chains
(b) producers
(c) consumers
(d) herbivores
(e) carnivores
(f) omnivores
2. What is the role of bacteria?
3. If rabbits were removed from this food
web, would the following increase or
a) Shrubs ____________________
b) Mountain lion _________________
c) Grasshopper ____________________
d) Shrew _________________________
Energy Pathways
All organisms carry out cellular respiration and
release energy. When one organism consumes
another, it takes the energy it needs to live and
releases thermal energy (i.e. heat). And when this
organism is eaten by another organism, the
chemical energy stored in its body is passed on to
the other organism.
Typically, though, only about 10% of the energy
taken in by organisms at one trophic level is passed
on to organisms at the next trophic level. At each next higher level, the amount of available energy
decreases. As a result, the number of organisms at each trophic level is also significantly reduced.
Match each Term on the left with the best Descriptor on the right.
Each Descriptor may be used only once.
A. energy-rich food compound that stores chemical Energy
1. _____ cellular respiration
B. any living thing that gets the energy it needs by making its own food
2. _____ consumer
C. a model that describes how the energy that is stored in food is
transferred from one living thing to another
3. _____ food chain
4. _____ food web
D. a series of chemical changes that let living things release the energy
stored in sugars to fuel all life functions
E. to keep or keep going, as an action or a process
5. _____ glucose
6. _____ photosynthesis
7. _____ producer
8. _____ sustain
F. a series of chemical changes that let green plants capture the Sun’s light
energy and transform it into chemical energy
G. a model that describes how energy in an ecosystem is transferred
through two or more food chains
H. any living thing that gets the energy it needs by eating producers
or other consumers.
Unit: Biology
Name: _________________________
Date: _________________________
Practice: Food Webs, Food Chains and Trophic Levels
1. Use the following food web to answer the questions below:
Identify the producer(s).
Write a food chain with seven trophic levels. Remember the arrows.
Name the top carnivore.
List four secondary consumers.
What trophic level do the secondary consumers belong to?
What top level predator is missing from the diagram? Hint: Who eats whale meat?
2. Explain the difference between scavengers and carnivores.
3. What percent of energy is available to pass on to the next trophic level? What happens to the
rest of the energy?
4. Usually, more organisms are found at lower trophic levels than at higher trophic levels. From
an energy flow point of view, explain why.
5. A food web contains green plants, grasshoppers, frogs, snakes, insect-eating birds, and
falcons. Which group would contain the most energy? the least energy?
6. Consider the following food web:
a) How would the food web change if the number of red foxes decreased because of hunters?
b) What species would benefit?
c) What species might decrease?
SNC1P Ecosystems
Name: ____________________
Ecological Footprints
Earth has a total area of just over 50 billion hectares, but less than ¼ of that area produces food and
other resources. This means that just 12 billion hectares are available to provide the basic needs of all
producers and consumers (including humans) on Earth. For 6 billion humans, this works out to TWO
hectares each, which we must share with other living things. By assessing your lifestyle choices, you can
fi d
he he
e e
ce e al m e le ha
hec a e f la d The am
f Ea h e i ed
i k
Ec l gical F
Your Task:
Go to the website: and complete the survey. Use the more
detailed options when available.
Once you have completed the survey, answer the following questions:
1) My personal Earth Overshoot Day is ______________________. If everyone lived like me we
would need _________ Earths.
Place a screen shot of “Results Part 1” below.
2) How do yo c m a e
he c
ie R ll e he i ic
country _________________# of earths _______
country _________________# of earths _______
country _________________# of earths _______
3) Click on the right arrow.
fi d he e l .
SNC1P Ecosystems
Name: ____________________
Your Ecological Footprint (global hectares or gha) __________
Your Carbon Footprint (CO2 emissions in tonnes per year) ________
Your Carbon Footprint (% of your total Ecological Footprint) ________
Next, click roll your mouse over each of the consumption categories and write he gha of your
ecological footprint attributed to each.
a) Food ________gha
b) Shelter _______ gha
c) Mobility _______gha
d) Goods_______gha
e) Services______gha
Place a screenshot of “Results Part 2” below.
8) Below, list 3 ways YOU can reduce your Ecological Footprint.
9) Did this activity make you think more about your lifestyle choices and how they affect the
planet? Explain why or why not.