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The Complexity of Life Heather Markham ID# 53734534 Prof. White December 4, 2002. The Complexity of Life. To get a good understanding of the complexity of life, one must understand the complicated networks and systems at work in nature that make it possible for life to exist.
An example of a habitat could be the rocky hillside in which the Diamondback rattlesnake make it’s home.
The concept of an ecological niche is used in explaining how species coexist in the same community. An Ecological niche is comprised of all biotic as well as abiotic factors necessary for an individual to survive in their habitat.
A Niche is sometimes thought of as the "role" an organism fulfills in the ecosystem. It is the adaptive role that the species has in a habitat. This includes it’s behavior and interaction with other species.Habitat and Niche
The first level of primary producers limits the available biomass and subsequently limits the size of upper levels.
Only ten percent (10%) of the total energy of that level will get passed up to the next level, all the rest of the energy if lost to respiration (which is the energy needed to stay alive and function).
Primary Consumers: Primary Consumers (the second level) are herbivores that eat the plant life from the first level.
Secondary Consumers: Secondary consumers can be carnivores or omnivores and pray on both the first and second level.
Terciary Consumers: Terciary consumers tend to be omnivores that typically eat more meat than plants. They are considered the top predators and only a stable, diverse environment can support them.Levels of the Trophic Pyramid
This food chain shows 5 trophic levels. The more biodiverse the environment the more trophic levels there are.
The idea of a food chain has become outdated with the increasing knowledge of the interconnectedness of the complex system of nature. A food chain does not represent all the other things the animals might eat.In turn, the food chain just does not have the complexity needed to understand predation.
A more realistic representation of feeding relationships in an ecosystem is a food web. A food web demonstrates the multiple links between species. Here is a diagram of an aquatic food web demonstrating the trophic levels:Food Chain vs. Food Web
A symbiotic relationship is where the species interact physically and their relationship is biologically essential for both of their survival.
For example, Mycorrhizae, which is a fungus, lives on the root of a tree extracting nutrients from the soil allowing the tree can survive, the Mycorrhizae in turn is provided with a habitat and nutrition.
A nonsymbiotic relationship is where the mutualists live independent lives yet cannot survive without each other.
For example, pollinating insects like bees and some flowering plants work together. The bees feed off the flowers and in turn collect pollen on themselves that they deposit on another flower, pollinating it.Mutualistic Relationships