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  1. 1. Ecology Unit
  2. 2. What is ecology? Ecology- the scientific study of interactions between organisms and their environments, focusing on energy transfer • It is a science of relationships
  3. 3. What do you mean by environment? The environment is made up of two factors: Biotic factors- all living organisms inhabiting the Earth Abiotic factors- nonliving parts of the environment (i.e. temperature, soil, light, moisture, air currents)
  4. 4. Biosphere Ecosystem Community Population Organism
  5. 5. Organism- any unicellular or multicellular form exhibiting all of the characteristics of life, an individual. •The lowest level of organization
  6. 6. Population-a group of organisms of one species living in the same place at the same time that interbreed and compete with each other for resources (ex. food, mates, shelter)
  7. 7. Community- several interacting populations that inhabit a common environment and are interdependent on one another
  8. 8. Ecosystem- populations in a community and the abiotic factors with which they interact (ex. marine, terrestrial)
  9. 9. Biosphere- life supporting portions of Earth composed of air, land, fresh water, and salt water •The highest level of organization
  10. 10. “The ecological niche of an organism depends not only on where it lives but also on what it does. By analogy, it may be said that the habitat is the organism's „address‟, and the niche is its „profession‟, biologically speaking.” Odum - Fundamentals of Ecology
  11. 11. Habitat vs. Niche Niche - the role a species plays in a community, i.e. decomposer, predator, prey, scave nger, parasite Habitat- the place in which an organism lives out its life
  12. 12. Niche An organism‟s niche is determined by it‟s ability to get resources from the environment, avoid limiting factors, and avoid competition with similar and neighboring species Limiting factor- any biotic or abiotic factor that restricts the existence of organisms in a specific environment
  13. 13. Limiting Factors Examples of limiting factors- •Availability of water •Availability of food •Temperature •Amount of living space •Competition •Predation
  14. 14. Feeding Relationships • There are 3 main types of feeding relationships 1. Producer- Consumer 2. Predator- Prey 3. Parasite- Host
  15. 15. Feeding Relationships Producer- all autotrophs (plants) that trap energy from the sun through the process of photosynthesis • Base of most food chains
  16. 16. Feeding Relationships Consumer- all heterotrophs that “eat” other organisms as food for energy  Herbivores  Carnivores  Omnivores  Decomposers
  17. 17. Feeding Relationships CONSUMER Herbivores – Eat plants • Primary consumers • Tend to be prey animals
  18. 18. Feeding Relationships CONSUMER Carnivores - eat meat • Secondary, Tertiar y and Quaternary consumers • Predators – hunt prey animals for food
  19. 19. Feeding Relationships CONSUMER Scavengers -feed on carrion and other dead animals • Feed from many different levels of the ecosystem depending on what animal has died
  20. 20. Feeding Relationships Consumer- Omnivores -eat both plants and animals
  21. 21. Feeding Relationships CONSUMER Decomposers • Breakdown the complex compounds of dead and decaying plants and animals into simpler molecules that can be recycled into the soil and reabsorbed by the roots of plants
  22. 22. Trophic Levels • Each link in a food chain is known as a trophic level • When an organism eats food, it is consuming both energy and matter (biomass) • Trophic levels represent a feeding step in the transfer of energy and matter in an ecosystem
  23. 23. Total Biomass Biomass- the amount of organic (living) matter comprising a group of organisms in a habitat, i.e. literally, the total weight of all individuals of a particular type of organism • As you move up a food chain, both available energy and biomass decrease • Energy is transferred through a food chain but is diminished with each transfer
  24. 24. Trophic Levels E Tertiary N consumers- top E carnivores R G Secondary consumers- Y small carnivores T R A Primary consumers- Herbivores N S F E Producers- Autotrophs R
  25. 25. Trophic Levels Food chain- simple model that shows how matter and energy move through an ecosystem
  26. 26. Trophic Levels Food web- shows all possible feeding relationships in a community at each trophic level • Represents a network of interconnected food chains
  27. 27. Food chain Food web (1 path of energy) (all possible energy paths)