What is Ecology?• Ecology – the study of interactions among organisms and between organisms and their environment• Levels of Organization – Biosphere – the largest of the areas of the earth containing the portion of the planet that life exists, including land, water and air (atmosphere) 2
Levels of Organization• Individual – similar organism (can mate)• Population – group of individuals that live in the same area• Community – populations that live together is a defined area• Ecosystem – all the organisms that live in a similar area along with the nonliving material• Biome – group of ecosystems (similar climate)• Biosphere – entire earth 4
Ecological Methods• Scientists use 3 basic methods to conduct ecological research – Observing – qualitative and quantitative observations – Experimenting – used to test hypotheses, can set up artificial environments and manipulate conditions – Modeling – models are made to study events that have occurred over large time periods, or are large in scale 5
Interactions Among Organisms• Sunlight is the main energy source for life on Earth• Producers – autotrophs (make their own energy (using the sun) –Photosynthesis – using light to produce energy / food –Chemosynthesis – using inorganic molecules to produce energy / food 6
Interactions (continued)• Consumers – heterotrophs (cannot make their own energy) – Herbivores – consume plants – Carnivores - consume meat – Omnivores – consume both – Detritovores – dead or decaying matter (earthworms, mites, crabs (animals) – Decomposers – dead or decaying matter (bacteria & fungus) 7
Energy Transfer / Feeding Relationships• Food Chain / Food Web – series of steps of energy transfer (web = connected food chains)• Trophic Levels – each step in a food chain 8
Ecological Pyramids• Diagram that shows relative amounts of energy or matter contained within each trophic level in a food chain or food web.• Energy Pyramid – energy available at each trophic level (10% rule)• Biomass Pyramid – amount of living tissue• Pyramid of Numbers - # of individuals 9
Nutrient Limitation• Primary Productivity – rate of production of organic matter by producers• Limiting Nutrients – nutrient that limits productivity• Aquatic ecosystems – large input of limiting nutrient can cause an increase of algae or producers = algal bloom 14
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