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Ecology is the study of interactions that take
place between organisms and their
Levels of Organization in Ecology
1. Biosphere-part of the Earth that supports life.
Levels of Organization in Ecology
2. Biomes-large group of ecosystems that share certain
Ex: Desert, Forest
Levels of Organization in Ecology
3. Ecosystems -made
up of interacting
Ex: Horse
eating grass, grass
growing in
Levels of Organization in Ecology
-Ecosystems are made up of biotic (living) and
abiotic (non-living) factors.
Levels of Organization in Ecology
Biotic factors-living things
Ex: trees, animals, bacteria
Abiotic factors-non-living things
Ex: sun, soil, air, water
Examples of ecosystems made up of biotic and abiotic factors:
Levels of Organization in Ecology
4. Communities-made up of interacting
Ex: Deer, zebra and grass living
Levels of Organization in Ecology
5. Population-a group of organisms of one
species that live in the same place at the
same time.
Ex: Many deer
Levels of Organization in Ecology
6. Organism-a living thing.
Ex: One deer.
Organisms in Ecosystems
-A habitat is an organism’s place of survival.
Organisms in Ecosystems
-A niche is the role an organism plays in its
environment (how it gets food, finds shelter, and
-A niche includes all of an organism’s interactions with
the biotic (living) and abiotic (non-living) parts of its
Example: A cockroach’s niche is inside a house, eating
Types of Niches
1. Fundamental niche – full niche a species
could take advantage of if there was no
1. Realized niche – the portion of the niche that
is fulfilled because of competition
• Symbiosis is a close and permanent
relationship between two organisms.
• Symbiosis means living together.
• There are three kinds of symbiosis:
mutualism, commensalism, and
1. Mutualism
• Mutualism is a
relationship in
which both
This little fish is
helping me by
cleaning my
teeth!!! Yeah!!!
I’m eating the big
fish’s food so
he’s helping me
too! Yeah!!!
More Examples of Mutualism
The coral reef and the algae exist in a
mutualistic relationship. They supply food and
shelter for each other.
Mutualism and Lichens!
Lichens are made up of fungi and algae. The
fungi attaches the organism to the tree and
protects the algae. The algae provides food
through photosynthesis.
Mutualism and flowers!
Flowers provide food for insects. Insects spread
the seeds of flowers. Both organisms benefit!
2. Commensalism
Commensalism is a
relationship in
which one species
benefits and the
other species is
neither harmed
nor benefited.
In this picture, Spanish moss is
growing on the trees. The moss
benefits because it has a place
to live, and the tree doesn’t care.
More examples of Commensalism
Clownfish hide in poisonous sea anemones which
protect them from larger fish. The clownfish
benefit, and nothing happens to the sea anemones.
Commensalism continued…
This bird, called an
egret rides on the back
of large mammals like
elephants. The egret
benefits because it gets
a place to live, and the
elephant doesn’t care
because it does not
benefit or become
harmed by the
3. Parasitism
• Some interactions are harmful to one
species, yet beneficial to another.
• Parasitism is a symbiotic relationship
in which a member of one species
benefits and the other species is
• Parasites have evolved in such a way that they
harm, but usually do not kill the host species.
Tapeworms are parasites.
They attach to your intestines
and suck out all of your food.
the tapeworm benefits, and
the host is harmed because they
slowly starve to death.
One of the ways to get rid of a tapeworm is to starve yourself and
then place a piece of meat in front of your mouth. The tapeworm
will smell the meat and climb up your throat and out of your mouth.
Tapeworms continued!!!
Other parasites!
A lungworm benefits
while it harms the host.
This is the head of a
parasite. Parasites often
grab on to the digestive
tracts (intestines and
stomachs) of their hosts.
Guinea Worm-Another parasite!
• Predation is when one animal eats another
animal. It is not a type of symbiosis, but it is an
interaction between organisms.
• A predator is a type of consumer. Predators seek
out and eat other organisms. The organisms the
predators eat are called prey.
• Leads to things like mimicry and warning
Organisms in a population
compete with each other
for food, water and mates.
Competition increases when
these things aren’t
Types of Competition
• Interspecific – competition between different
– Causes niches to narrow
• Intraspecific – competition between
individuals of the same species
– Causes niches to broaden