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Unit 2 -- Principles of Ecology. Ecology: Scientific study of how organisms and their surrounding environments interact. Abiotic vs. biotic factors – presence/absence of these define levels of organization. Abiotic – nonliving parts of an orgs surrounding environment

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unit 2 principles of ecology

Unit 2 -- Principles of Ecology

Ecology: Scientific study of how organisms and their surrounding environments interact

abiotic vs biotic factors presence absence of these define levels of organization
Abiotic vs. biotic factors – presence/absence of these define levels of organization
  • Abiotic – nonliving parts of an orgs surrounding environment

Ex. Soil, moisture, light, temperature

(though nonliving, abiotic factors are an important part of an organism’s life…)

  • Biotic– all of the living organisms that live in a particular area under consideration.

Ex. Goldfish in a bowl, other goldfish, plants, algae

levels of organization
Levels of Organization
  • Individual organismEx. One frog
  • Species Ex. Bullfrogs

group of organisms so similar to one another that they can breed and produce FERTILE offspring.

  • PopulationEx. Bullfrogs in a pond

group of organisms of ONE species that interbreed and live in the same area at the same time.

  • CommunityEx. Bullfrogs, fish, insects, algae in that pond

made up of several populations that interact in the same area

  • Ecosystem Ex. Pond ecosystem

collection of ALL the living things that live in a particular place together with their physical environment

  • BiomeEx. Tropical rainforest

group of ecosystems with the same climate and similar dominant communities

  • Biosphere:Ex. Earth and atmosphere above it

Consists of the portion of Earth that supports life. (includes land, water, atmosphere)

organisms in ecosystems
Organisms in Ecosystems
  • Habitat – place where an org lives its day- to-day life.

(habitats can change dramatically due to natural or man-made effects:

Ex. fire because of lightning or careless campers...

  • Niche – the role and position a species occupies in its habitat or location. HOW it lives in the habitat…This includes all of the org’s interactions with the living and nonliving parts of the habitat.

Ex. Earthworms act as decomposers

chapter 14

Chapter 14 --

Interactions in Ecosystemssection 14.1,

pages 426-434

resource availability and competitive exclusion
Resource Availability and competitive exclusion

Gives structure to a community

Many species can share similar habitats and use some of the same resources…

BUT, when two species use the same resources in the same ways, Competitive exclusion comes in to play:

DEF: when 2 species are competing for the same resources, one species will be better suited to the niche and the other species will be pushed into another niche or become extinct

Ex. NA Gray squirrel vs. Red squirrel in Great Britain

Gray is larger, more aggressive

other outcomes of competitive exclusion
Other outcomes of competitive exclusion….

Niche partitioning:

Natural division of resources based on competitive advantages

Ex. One squirrel eats nuts from top of tree, one squirrel eats nuts from the ground

Evolutionary response:

Divergent evolution (body forms change over time)

Ex. Large teeth for large nuts, small teeth for small nuts

what happens in different communities
What happens in different communities:

Ecological equivalents:

Species that occupy similar niches but live in different geographical regions

Ex. Poison dart frog of SA


Mantella frog of Madagascar

community interactions
Community Interactions




*for tomorrow’s lab, we will deal with the symbiosis considerations….

living together species interactions
Living Together – species interactions

Symbiosis– relationship where there are close and long-lasting associations between orgs of different species

Types of symbiotic relationships:

a. parasitism

b. commensalism

c. mutualism


Symbiotic relationship where one organism benefits and another organism is harmed.

Ex. Ticks on a dog

-- tick gets food source, dog gets hole in protective skin layer and possible infection

Ex. Tapeworms in intestine

-- tapeworm absorbs nutrients in pre-digested form, host loses weight, and host never gets the nutrition that it needs (malnutrition)


Each section of a tapeworm’s body is called a PROGLOTTID and contains a full set of reproductive organs…


Symbiotic relationship where one species benefits and another is neither harmed nor helped

Ex. Barnacles attached to a whale

-barnacles get a free ride to areas where food is available


Symbiotic relationship where both species involved benefit from the association.

Ex. Ants and acacia trees

– ants get shelter and nectar from plant as food, plants get protection from predators

Ex. sponges attached to crab shell

-- sponges get moved to new area to filter food from water, crab gets portable camouflage