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Intro to Ecology Notes. QQ#1: What is Ecology?. What is Ecology?. The study of interactions among organisms and between organism and their environment, or surroundings. Basically… Why animals are where they are and how they interact. Levels of Organization.

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Intro to Ecology Notes

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intro to ecology notes

Intro to Ecology Notes

QQ#1: What is Ecology?

what is ecology
What is Ecology?
  • The study of interactions among organisms and between organism and their environment, or surroundings.
  • Basically…
    • Why animals are where they are and how they interact.
levels of organization
Levels of Organization
  • To understand these relationships within the biosphere, scientists ask questions about events and organisms that range in complexity from a single individual to the entire biosphere.

QQ#2: What is a species?

levels of organization1
Levels of Organization
  • Species: a group of organisms so similar to one another that they can breed and produce fertile offspring
levels of organization2
Levels of Organization
  • Populations: Groups of individual of the same species that live in the same area
levels of organization3
Levels of Organization
  • Communities: two or more populations that live in a defined area.

QQ#3: What is an ecosystem?

levels of organization4
Levels of Organization
  • Ecosystems: collection of all the organisms that live in a particular place, together with their nonliving, or physical, environment
levels of organization5
Levels of Organization
  • Biome: group of ecosystems that have the same climate and similar dominant communities
what shapes an ecosystem

What Shapes an Ecosystem?

Biotic and Abiotic Factors


Community Interactions


biotic and abiotic factors
Biotic and Abiotic Factors
  • Biotic factors:
    • Biological influences on organisms within an ecosystem
    • Living or once-living
  • Abiotic Factors:
    • physical factors that shape an ecosystem
    • Non-living



QQ#4: What are some examples of biotic factors? abiotic factors?

biotic and abiotic factors1
Biotic and Abiotic Factors
  • Examples of Abiotic Factors:




•Salinity - amount of dissolved salt

•Wind, rocks and soil

•Catastrophes - earthquakes, fires, floods, landslides, toxic spills

  • Examples of Biotic factors:
    • Plants and animals
    • Aquatic (water)
    • Benthic (bottom-dwelling)
    • Terrestrial (land)
biotic and abiotic factors2
Biotic and Abiotic Factors
  • Biotic and abiotic factors determine the growth and survival of an organism
  • Also determine the productivity of the ecosystem in which an organism lives
  • Habitat: area where an organisms lives (biotic and abiotic included)
  • Niche: the full range of physical and biological conditions in which an organism lives and the way the organism uses those conditions.
    • Place in the food web
      • Food it eats, how it obtains it, etc.
    • Physical conditions needed to survive
      • Temperatures it can survive in
  • No two species can share the same niche in the same habitat.
  • Can occupy different niches that are very similar.
community interactions
Community Interactions
  • Organisms that live together in ecological communities constantly interact.
    • Competition
    • Predation
    • Symbiosis
  • All affect an ecosystem
  • Occurs when organisms of the same or different species attempt to use a resource at the same place and time.
    • Resource: any necessity of life (water, food, light, space, etc.)
  • Direct competition
    • Results in a winner and a loser
    • Losing organism fails to survive.
  • A bear catches and eats a fish for food.
  • Who benefits?
  • Who doesn’t?
  • An interaction in which one organism captures and feeds on another organism
  • Predator: the one that does the killing/eating
  • Prey: the one being eaten
  • Any relationship in which two organisms live closely together
    • Means “living together”
  • 3 Main classes in nature:
    • Mutualism
    • Commensalism
    • Parasitism
  • The ant cares for the aphids and protects them from predators. The aphids produce a sweet liquid that the ant drinks.
  • Who benefits? Who doesn’t?
  • Both species benefit from the relationship

Bee and Flower

Clownfish and Sea Anemone

  • The orchid benefits from its perch in the tree as it absorbs water and minerals from rainwater and runoff.
  • Who benefits? Who doesn’t?
  • One member in the relationship benefits, while the other is neither helped nor harmed.

Barnacles and Whales

  • A tick feeds on the blood of its host and may also carry disease-causing microorganisms.
  • Who benefits? Who doesn’t?
  • One organism lives on or inside another organisms and harms it.
  • Parasite obtains all or part of its nutritional needs from the host
  • Generally weakens but does not kill their host

a tomato hornworm is covered with cocoons of pupating braconid wasp

ecological succession
Ecological Succession
  • Ecosystems are constantly changing due to natural or human disturbances.
  • Older inhabitants gradually die out and new organisms move in, causing changes in the community.
ecological succession1
Ecological Succession
  • Ecological Succession: series of predictable changes that occur in a community over time.
  • Succession may result from:
    • Slow changes in physical environment
    • Sudden disturbance from human activities
primary succession
Primary Succession
  • Occurs on surface where no soil exists.
    • Where lava rock is from volcanic explosion
    • On rock exposed when glaciers melt
primary succession1
Primary Succession
  • Pioneer species: first species to populate the area
  • On volcanic rock, often lichens (fungus and aglae that can grow on bare rock)
    • When they die, add organic material to help form soil for plants to grow.
secondary succession
Secondary Succession
  • When the natural or human disturbance is over, community interactions tend to restore the ecosystem to its original conditions.
succession in a marine ecosystem
Succession in a Marine Ecosystem
  • Occurs when a large whale dies and sinks to the bottom.
  • Attracts scavengers and decomposers.
  • Decomposition of body enriches surrounding sediments.
  • Heterotrophic bacteria decompose oils in bone that release chemical compounds that serve as energy sources.