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What is Ecology?
Section 3.1 in Biology Textbooks
Ecology is…
The scientific study of interactions among
organisms and between organisms and
their physical environment.
• Organisms in the biosphere interact with
each other and with their surroundings , or
environment. – The study of these
interactions is called ecology.
• The root word ecology is the Greek word
oikos, which means “house.”
The Biosphere…
• Consists of all life on Earth and all parts of
the Earth in which life exists, including
land, water, and the atmosphere.
• contains every organism, from bacteria
living underground to giant trees in rain
forests, whales in polar seas, mold spores
drifting through the air– and, of course,
• Describing a species’ “address” tells only
part of its story.
• Ecologists also study a species’
ecological “occupation”:
– Where and how it “makes a living.”
• A niche is the range of physical and
biological conditions in which a species
lives and the way the species obtains what
it needs to survive and reproduce.
Niche analogy
• An animal’s niche is like the position an
athlete plays in a tem sport.
• In your notebooks, name a player position
for your favorite sport.
• Then we will discuss:
– Role
– Space
– interaction
• How does competition
shape communities?
• Animals, such as
Neptune beetles,
compete for resources
such as:
– Food
– Mates
– and places to live and
raise their young.
What resource do you think these
two males are fighting over?
Predator-Prey Relationships
• An interaction in which
• Predators can affect:
one animal (the predator)
– size of prey populations in
a community
captures and feeds on
– the places prey can live
another animal (the prey)
and feed
is called predation.
• Example: Birds of prey
can play an important role
in regulation population
A vole is a small rodent resembling a mouse but with a
stouter body, a shorter, hairy tail, a slightly rounder
head, smaller ears and eyes, and differently formed
– Mice
– Voles
– and other small mammals
What are three primary ways that
organisms depend on each other?
•Clownfish live among the sea
anemone’s tentacles and protect
the sea anemone by chasing away
would-be attackers.
•The sea anemone, in turn,
protects the clownfish from their
What could happen to the sea anemone if the
clownfish died?
What are three primary ways that
organisms depend on each other?
•This brown leech is feeding on the blood
of its host, a human.
•In a parasitic relationship the parasite
benefits while the host is harmed.
What are three primary ways that
organisms depend on each other?
•The barnacles attached to the
skin of this grey whale are
feeding on food in water that
passes over them as the whale
•Although the barnacles clearly
benefit from their relationship
with the whale, they do not
appear to affect the whale
positively or negatively.
A barnacle is a type of arthropod
belonging to infraclass Cirripedia in
the subphylum Crustacea, and is
hence related to crabs and lobsters.
Define and give an example