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Ecology. Ecology Ecology is the study of the distribution and abundance of organisms and their interdependence with the non-living resources. Biosphere: Portion of the earth inhabited by life: sum of all ecosystems.

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Ecology is the study of the distribution and abundance of organisms and their interdependence with the non-living resources.

Biosphere: Portion of the earth inhabited by life: sum of all ecosystems.

This area is a relatively thin layer of seas, lakes, streams, land to soil depth of a few meters, and atmosphere to an altitude of a few kilometers.


“As long as there are leaves, there will always be fish.”

“To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of

intelligent tinkering.’

“Few problems are less recognized but more important than the accelerating dissappearance of Earth’s biological resources. In pushing other species to extinction, humanity is busy sawing off the limb on which it is perched.”


The study of interactions between organisms and their




Energy flow through the ecosystem


Make their own food.


Consume food.

feeding relationships
Feeding relationships





Insectivores, etc.


energy flow
Energy Flow


Make their own food.











energy flow1
Energy Flow
  • Food Chains
  • The source of all food is the activity of autotrophs, mainly photosynthesis by plants.
  • They are called producers because only they can manufacture food from inorganic raw materials.
  • This food feeds herbivores, called primary consumers.
  • Carnivores that feed on herbivores are called secondary consumers.
  • Carnivores that feed on other carnivores are tertiary (or higher) consumers.
  • Such a path of food consumption is called a food chain.
  • Each level of consumption in a food chain is called a trophic level.
Name_________________________ Date _________________________
  • Notes on Energy Flow
  • Energy from the __________ is the major source for all living things. The process of
  • ______________traps it so it can be used by living organisms.
  • Plants are considered primary ____________________ since they carry out the process of __________________. Another name for these organisms is
  • __________________________ since they make their own food.
  • Any organism that eats plant material is called a _______________________. All of these organisms are _______________since they cannot make their own food.
  • Some heterotrophs live off of decaying material , they are called_____________________.
  • They are needed to recycle the material through the ecosystems.
  • Trophic levels:
  • Energy is passed from one type of organism to another via _______________ levels. The
  • first level includes __________________________. Here we find the most
  • abundant amount of mass stored of all the levels.

The second level includes all the organisms that eat these plants. They are called primary_______________, since they take the energy stored in the plants and incorporate it into

their bodies.

About _________% of the total energy is transfered to this level to be used by these consumers.

The third level includes the secondary consumers or _______________. These receive energy from eating the primary consumers.

There are fewer of these organisms than there are of the prmary consumers.

build a food web
Build a Food Web
  • Interactive Assessment Worksheets
http www brainpop com science ecology foodchains index weml tried cookie true
abiotic factors
Abiotic Factors
  • Organisms in the biosphere are acted upon by abiotic factors (non-living).
  • Temperature: affects metabolism, range is between 0 degrees and 50 degrees centigrade.
  • Water: adaptations for water balance and conservation help determine a species' habitat range.
  • Solar energy drives nearly all ecosystems. Availability of light can determine habitat. Aquatic environments, water selectively reflects and absorbs certain wavelengths; therefore, most photosynthesis occurs near the surface of the water. Animal and plant behavior is often sensitive to photoperiods.
  • Soil: Physical structure, pH, and mineral composition of soil limit distribution of plants and hence animals that feed on them.
  • Wind: amplifies the effects on temperature by increasing heat loss by evaporation and convection.
  • Natural Disasters: Fire, hurricanes, typhoons, volcanic eruptions can devastate biological communities.
principle of allocation
Principle of Allocation
  • Principle of Allocation: Each organism has a limited, finite amount of total energy that can be allocated for growth, reproducing, obtaining nutrients, escaping predators and coping with environmental changes.
  • Species living in stable environments: Lead a good life in a small area.
  • Species living in unstable environments: Lead a rough life over a wider range.


  • Terrestrial Biomes: Most often named for the predominant vegetation but each is also characterized by animals adapted to that particular environment
  • biomes grade into each other without sharp boundaries.
  • May be patchy, with several communities represented in one biome.
  • Prevailing climate, particular temperature and rainfall, is most important factor in determining what kind of biome develops.
  • A climatograph plots temperature and rainfall and shows the impact of climate on the distribution of biomes.

Tropical Forest (rain forest): found near the equator, temp varies little from 25 degrees C. and day light varies from 12 hours by less than one hour. Lowlands receive very little rain fall, and develop thorn forests. Nearer the equator regions have distinct wet and dry seasons and tropical deciduous forests occur. Trees releaf following heavy rains. Near the equator, where rainfall is abundant ,and the dry season lasts less than a few months is tropical rain forest. Contain more plant and animal species than any other community. Competition is strong for light, soil is poor due to the rapid recycling of nutrients. Animals are mostly tree dwellers.


Savanna: is a grassland with scattered individual trees. Found covering: Central South America, central and South Africa, and parts of Australia. Soil is generally porous with a thin humus layer. 3 distinct seasons: cool and dry; hot and dry, and warm and wet in that order. Frequent fires inhibit invasion of trees. Large herbivores ( giraffes, zebras) are commonly most active.


Chaparral: scrub land are regions of dense, spiny shrubs, with tough evergreen leaves found along coasts where cool ocean currents circulate offshore making mild rainy winters and long hot dry summers. Mediterranean , California coastline, Chile, S.W. Africa, and S.W. Australia. Deer, snakes, fruit eating birds are common. Desert: is characterized by low precipitation less than 30 cm / year, not by temperature: both cold and hot deserts exist. Hot deserts occur in S.W. USA, W. South America, North Africa, Middle East, Central Australia. Cold deserts occur: E. Argentina, central Asia, and west of the Rocky Mountains. Reptiles and seed eaters are common. Cacti and succulents are also common. Temperate Grasslands: similar to savanna but occur in cold regions. Veldts of S. Africa, the pusta of Hungary, pampas of Uruguay and Argentina, steppes of Russia, and the plains of the USA, are examples.


Temperate Forests: grow throughout the mid latitude regions that contain enough moisture to support large broad-leaved, deciduous trees. Occur in Eastern US, Middle Europe, and E. Asia. There is a 5-6 month growing season, very cold winters, and very hot summers. High precipitation and evenly distributed through out the year. Soil rich in nutrients. Taiga: ( coniferous or boreal forest) is characterized by harsh winters and occasionally warm summers. N.America, Europe, Asia, and at high elevations in more temperate latitudes. Soil thin and acidic. It forms slowly. Tundra: is the northern most limits of plant growth and at high altitudes plant forms are limits to shrubs and mat-like vegetation. Arctic Tundra: encircles the North Pole. Brief warm summers are marked with nearly 24 hours of sunlight. Permafrost, saturated soil prevent large plants from growing. Alpine Tundra: occurs at high elevations at all latitudes.

glossary of ecology terms
Glossary of Ecology Terms
  • UCMP Glossary of Natural History Terms, #5

UCMP Glossary of Natural History TermsVolume #5Ecological Termsabsorption -- The taking in of water and dissolved minerals and nutrients across cell membranes. Contrast with ingestion. aerobic -- Aerobic organisms require oxygen for their life processes. anaerobic -- Anaerobic organisms do not require oxygen for their life processes, in fact oxygen is toxic to many of them. Most anaerobic organisms are bacteria or archaeans. autotroph -- Any organism that is able to manufacture its own food. Most plants are autotrophs, as are many protists and bacteria. Contrast with consumer. Autotrophs may be photoautotrophic, using light energy to manufacture food, or chemoautotrophic, using chemical energy. benthic -- Organisms that live on the bottom of the ocean are called benthic organisms. They are not free-floating like pelagic organisms are. canopy -- Layer of vegetation elevated above the ground, usually of tree braches and epiphytes. In tropical forests, the canopy may be more than 100 feet above the ground. carnivore -- Literally, an organism that eats meat. Most carnivores are animals, but a few fungi, plants, and protists are as well. consumer -- Any organism which must consume other organisms (living or dead) to satisfy its energy needs. Contrast with autotroph. decomposition -- The breakdown of dead organic material by detrivores or saprophytes. detritus -- Accumulated organic debris from dead organisms, often an important source of nutrients in a food web. detrivore -- Any organism which obtains most of its nutrients from the detritus in an ecosystem. dispersal -- Spread of a species to a new location. In many organisms, this happens at a particular stage in the life cycle, and is often crucial to the survival of the species. Organisms may disperse as spores, seeds, eggs, larvae, or adults. ecosystem -- All the organisms in a particular region and the environment in which they live. The elements of an ecosystem interact with each other in some way, and so depend on each other either directly or indirectly. environment -- The place in which an organism lives, and the circumstances under which it lives. Environment includes measures like moisture and temperature, as much as it refers to the actual physical place where an organism is found. epiphyte -- A plant which grows upon another plant. The epiphyte does not "eat" the plant on which it grows, but merely uses the plant for structural support, or as a way to get off the ground and into the canopy environment. food chain / food web -- All the interactions of predator and prey, included along with the exchangeof nutrients into and out of the soil. These interactions connect the various members of an ecosystem, and describe how energy passes from one organism to another. frugivore -- Animal which primarily eats fruit. Many bats and birds are frugivores. generalist -- Organism which can survive under a wide variety of conditions, and does not specialize to live under any particular set of circumstances. grassland -- Region in which the climate is dry for long periods of the summer, and freezes in the winter. Grasslands are characterized by grasses and other erect herbs, usually without trees or shrubs. Grasslands occur in the dry temperate interiors of continents, and first appeared in the Miocene. habitat -- The place and conditions in which an organism lives. . herbivore -- Literally, an organism that eats plants or other autotrophic organisms. The term is used primarily to describe animals. host -- Organism which serves as the habitat for a parasite, or possibly for a symbiont. A host may provide nutrition to the parasite or symbiont, or simply a place in which to live. ingestion -- The intake of water or food particles by "swallowing" them, taking them into the body cavity or into a vacuole. Contrast with absorption. kelp forest -- Marine ecosystem dominated by large kelps. These forests are restricted to cold and temperate waters, and are most common along the western coasts of continents. Kelp forests first appeared in the Miocene. limnology -- The study of river system ecology and life. litter -- Leaf litter, or forest litter, is the detritus of fallen leaves and bark which accumulate in forests. marine -- Refers to the ocean. niche -- The portion of the environment which a speciesoccupies. A niche is defined in terms of the conditions under which an organism can survive, and may be affected by the presence of other competing organisms. nitrogen fixation -- The conversion of gaseous nitrogen into a form usable by plants. Ususally by bacteria. nocturnal -- Active only at night. nutrient -- Any element or simple compound necessary for the health and survival of an organism. This includes air and water, as well as food. nutrient cycling -- All the processes by which nutrients are transferred from one organism to another. For instance, the carbon cycle includes uptake of carbon dioxide by plants, ingestion by animals, and respiration and decay of the animal. omnivore -- Literally, an organism that will eat anything. Refers to animals who do not restrict their diet to just plants or other animals. organic -- Generally refers to those substances produced by the metabolism of a living organism, especially carbon-containing compounds. parasite -- Organism which lives on or within another organism, on which it feeds. pathogenic -- Organism which causes a disease within another organism. pelagic -- Pelagic organisms swim through the ocean, and may rise to the surface, or sink to the bottom. They are not confined to live on the bottom as benthic organisms do. periphyton -- Dense strands of algal growth that cover the water surface between the emergant aquatic plants. Spirogyra is commonly responsible for this growth. photic zone -- Region of the ocean through which light penetrates; and the place where photosynthetic marine organisms live. phytoplankton -- Tiny, free-floating, photosynthetic organisms in aquatic systems. They include diatoms, desmids, and dinoflagellates. plankton -- Tiny, free-floating organisms of the ocean or other aquatic systems. They may be phytoplankton or zooplankton. pollinator -- Animal which carries pollen from one seed plant to another, unwittingly aiding the plant in its reproduction. Common pollinators include insects, especially bees, butterflies, and moths, birds, and bats. predator -- Organism which hunts and eats other organisms. This includes both carnivores, which eat animals, and herbivores, which eat plants. prey -- Organism hunted and eaten by a predator. producer -- Any organism which brings energy into an ecosystem from inorganic sources. Most plants and many protists are producers. reproduction -- Process by which new organisms are generated. Reproduction may be sexual, involving the fusion of gametes, or asexual. riparian -- Having to do with the edges of streams or rivers. salinity -- A measure of the salt concentration of water. Higher salinity means more dissolved salts. saprophyte -- Organism which feeds on dead and decaying organisms, allowing the nutrients to be recycled into the ecosystem. Fungi and bacteria are two groups with many important saprophytes. seaweed -- Any large photosynthetic protist, including rhodophytes and kelps. Seaweeds are not true plants, but like plants they can make their own food. More info?sedentary -- Not moving. Many organisms, both plants and animals, spend the majority of their lives in one place. specialist -- Organism which has adopted a lifestyle specific to a particular set of conditions. Contrast with generalist. substrate -- "Supporting surface" on which an organism grows. The substrate may simply provide structural support, or may provide water and nutrients. A substrate may be inorganic, such as rock or soil, or it may be organic, such as wood. symbiosis -- Literally, "living together". Many cases of symbiosis are mutual, in which both organisms rely on each other for survival. Other types of symbiosis include parasitism, in which one organism benefits at its host's expense, and commensalisms, in which one partner benefits and the other is neither benefitted nor harmed. temperate -- Region in which the climate undergoes seasonal change in temperature and moisture. Temperate regions of the earth lie primarily between 30 and 60 degrees latitude in both hemispheres. terrestrial -- Living on land, as opposed to marine or aquatic. tree -- Tall plant with a central trunk. The term does not imply anything about relationships, but is a growth pattern that has evolved several times in plants. tropical -- Region in which the climate undergoes little seasonal change in either temperature or rainfall. Tropical regions of the earth lie primarily between 30 degrees north and south of the equator. upwelling -- The raising of benthic nutrients to the surface waters. This occurs in regions where the flow of water brings currents of differing temperatures together, and increases productivity of the ecosystem. zooplankton -- Tiny, free-floating organisms in aquatic systems. Unlike phytoplankton, zooplankton cannot produce their own food, and so are consumers.