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Ecology. What is Ecology?. The scientific study of interactions among organisms and between organisms and their environment. Levels of Organization. Individual organisms

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what is ecology
What is Ecology?
  • The scientific study of interactions among organisms and between organisms and their environment
levels of organization
Levels of Organization
  • Individual organisms
  • Populations: groups of individuals that belong to the same species (Species- group of organisms so similar to one another that they can breed and produce fertile offspring) and live in the same area
  • Community: Assemblages of different populations that live together in a defined area
levels of organization continued
Levels of Organization (continued)
  • Ecosystem: Collection of all the organisms that live in a particular place, together with nonliving, or physical, environment
  • Biome: A group of ecosystems that have the same climate and similar dominant communities
  • Biosphere: Combined portions of the planet in which all of life exists, including land, water, and air, or atmosphere (8km above surface and 11km below in the oceans)
energy flows
Energy Flows
  • Energy flows through an ecosystem in one direction
    • Sun Autotrophs Heterotrophs
  • The main energy source for life on Earth
  • Plants, some algae, and certain bacteria
  • Capture energy from sunlight or chemicals and use that energy to produce food
  • Also called producers because they make their own food
  • Autotrophs use light energy to convert carbon dioxide and water into oxygen and energy-rich carbohydrates
  • Autotrophs (such as bacteria) that use chemical energy instead of sunlight to make carbohydrates
  • Animals, fungi, and many bacteria
  • They must rely on other organisms for their energy & food supply
  • Also called consumers
types of heterotrophs
Types of Heterotrophs
  • Herbivores
    • Eat only plants
    • Cows, deer, & caterpillar
  • Carnivores
    • Eat only animals
    • Snakes, dogs, & owls
  • Omnivores
    • Eat both plants & animals
    • Humans, bears, & crows
types of heterotrophs1
Types of Heterotrophs
  • Detritivores
    • Eat plant & animal remains & other dead matter known as detritus
    • mites, earthworms, & snails
  • Decomposers
    • Break down organic matter
    • Bacteria and fungi
  • Pick up a stack of pictures
  • Sort them into 2 piles
    • Autotrophs
    • Heterotrophs
  • Sort the heterotrophs into 4 piles
    • Herbivores
    • Carnivores
    • Omnivores
    • Decomposers
  • Make a list of what organisms are in each pile
food chains
Food Chains
  • A series of steps in which organisms transfer energy by eating and being eaten
  • Must be a straight line
  • Grass Antelope Coyote

Primary Consumer

Secondary Consumer


food chain
Food Chain
  • Draw a food chain of which you are a member
food web
Food Web
  • Network of complex feeding relationships among various organisms
  • Links all food chains in an ecosystem together
trophic level
Trophic Level
  • 1st trophic level – Producers
  • 2nd trophic level – Primary Consumer
  • 3rd trophic level – Secondary Consumer
  • 4th trophic level – Tertiary Consumer
  • 5th trophic level – Quaternary Consumer
ecological pyramid
Ecological Pyramid
  • A diagram that shows the relative amounts of energy or matter contained within each trophic level in a food web or food chain
    • Energy Pyramid
    • Biomass Pyramid
    • Pyramid of Numbers
energy pyramid
Energy Pyramid

Only about 10% of the energy in each trophic level is transferred to the next higher level

90% of the energy is lost as heat

1%-2nd level Consumer


10%- 1st level Consumer

100% -Producers

biomass pyramid
Biomass Pyramid
  • Amount of living matter at each level in grams
  • The greatest biomass is usually at the base of the pyramid

Human 50 grams

Chicken 500 grams

Grain 5000 grams

pyramid of numbers
Pyramid of Numbers
  • Shows the relative number of individual organisms at each trophic level

3rd level consumers

2nd level consumers

1st level consumers


what shapes an ecosystem1
What shapes an ecosystem?
  • Abiotic Factors
    • Physical or nonliving factors
    • Temperature, precipitation, humidity, soil type, sunlight
  • Biotic Factors
    • All living things with which an organism might interact
    • Birds, trees, mushrooms, algae, herons
  • Full range of physical and biological conditions in which an organism lives and the way in which the organism uses these conditions
  • Includes type of food and how it obtains food, physical conditions it needs, how and when it reproduces, and more
  • An interaction in which one organism captures and feeds on another organism
  • Predator
    • Organism that does the killing and eating
  • Prey
    • The food
  • Any relationship in which two species live closely together
  • Three types
    • Mutualism
    • Commensalism
    • Parasitism
  • Both species benefit from the relationship
  • + , +
  • Example-Flowers and insects
  • One member benefits and the other is neither helped nor harmed
  • + , 0
  • Example- Barnacles and whales
  • One organism lives on or inside another organism and harms it
  • + , -
  • Example- Tapeworms and mammals or fleas and dogs
  • Tropical Rain Forest
  • Tropical Dry Forest
  • Tropical Savanna
  • Desert
  • Temperate Grassland
  • Northwestern Coniferous Forest
  • Boreal Forest
  • Tundra
  • Species vary in their adaptations to different conditions
  • Adaptations-Inherited characteristics that increases an organisms ability to survive and reproduce
adaptations of plants and animals
Adaptations of Plants and Animals
  • Cactus-Leaves are only spines to reduce water loss and stem stores water
  • Desert rats-kidneys conserve water and extract water from food
  • Rain forest plants have long thin leaves that shed excess water
population growth1
Population Growth
  • Factors that affect population size
    • # of births
    • # of deaths
    • # of individuals that enter/leave the population
exponential growth
Exponential Growth
  • Abundant space and food and protection from predators and disease
  • Ideal conditions with unlimited resources
  • Individuals produce at a constant rate

Growth of Elephant Population

logistic growth
Logistic Growth
  • Resources become less available and the growth slows or stops after a period of exponential growth
carrying capacity
Carrying capacity
  • Number of individuals of a species that a given environment can support

Carrying capacity

limiting factor
Limiting Factor
  • A factor that causes population growth to decrease
  • May be density-dependent or density-independent
density dependent factors
Density Dependent Factors
  • Limiting factor that depends on population size
    • Competition-In crowded populations, organisms compete for food, water, space, sunlight, and other essentials
    • Predation
    • Parasitism
    • Disease
density independent factors
Density-Independent Factors
  • Affect all populations in similar ways regardless of the population size
    • Unusual weather
    • Natural disasters such as droughts
    • Human disturbances such as damming rivers
biological magnification
Biological Magnification
  • Concentration of a harmful substance increases in organisms at higher trophic levels in a food chain or food web
  • Top level carnivores are at highest risk
biological magnification1
Biological Magnification

Fish-eating Birds

Large Fish

Magnification of DDT Concentration

Small Fish




biogeochemical cycles
Biogeochemical Cycles
  • Cycles that connect biological, geological, and chemical aspects of the biosphere
water cycle
Water Cycle
  • Evaporation-liquid to gas
  • Transpiration-evaporation from leaves
  • Condensation-water vapor into clouds
  • Precipitation-Rains, sleets, or hails
  • Runoff-water from stream to ocean
  • Groundwater seepage
  • Roots uptake water
carbon cycle
Carbon Cycle
  • Released to atmosphere
    • Volcanic activity and erosion
    • Respiration
    • Burning of fossil fuels and vegetation
    • Decomposition of organic matter
carbon cycle1
Carbon Cycle
  • Absorbed
    • Plants take in carbon dioxide
    • Plants eaten by heterotrophs
    • In ocean in calcium carbonate
    • Burial and decomposition of dead organisms & conversion to fossil fuels
nitrogen cycle
Nitrogen Cycle
  • Nitrogen fixation-bacteria in soil and roots of plants called legumes convert nitrogen into ammonia
  • Other bacteria convert ammonia into nitrates & nitrogen
  • Producers (plants) use nitrates and nitrogen to make proteins
nitrogen cycle continued
Nitrogen cycle (continued)
  • Consumers eat producers and reuse the nitrogen to make their own proteins
  • When the consumers die, decomposers return nitrogen to the soil as ammonia
  • Ammonia is taken up by producers or converted to nitrogen gas by bacteria (called denitrification)
phosphorus cycle
Phosphorus Cycle
  • Important in DNA and RNA
  • Not in atmosphere but on land
  • Rocks wear down and released
  • Some reaches ocean and used by marine organisms
  • Some stays on land and plants absorb and pass on through food web