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2.

4
Ecology

Organism

Word

Definition

Organism

A single living individual

Ecosystem

All interacting communities of organisms and abiotic factors


of the environment within a defined area.

Environment

The sum total of all of the factors in the surroundings that


influence an organism

Abiotic factors

Non-living chemical and physical factors of the environment


(e.g. temperature, light, water, soil, nutrients).

Biotic factors

Includes factors such as food, organisms, competition.


Predation, parasitism

Climate

Weather conditions in a certain geographical area averaged


over a long period of time.

Micro-climate

local atmospheric zone where the climate differs from the


surrounding area

Weather

Rainfall, temperature average (or highs and lows), sunshine


hours and wind in a particular area at a particular time.

Adaptation

The feature that increases the chances that an organism will


survive and reproduce.
Structural; physical structure / feature of the organism
Behavioural; certain behaviour of an organism
Physiological; certain functioning of an organisms body

Habitat

The place where an organism lives

Niche

The way an organism makes its living; its role in the


community

Fundamental
niche

the full range of environmental conditions (biotic and abiotic)


under which the organism can survive

Realised Niche

The niche that the organism actually occupies.

Gauses principle

THE COMPETITIVE EXCLUSION PRINCIPLE


If two species, with the same niche, coexist in the same
ecosystem, then one will be excluded from the community
due to intense competition.

Tolerance

An organisms ability to survive in a habitat with variation in


environmental conditions

Optimum range

A habitat that has environmental conditions where a species


will function at its best.

Stress

When the environmental conditions differ from the optimum


range

Acclimation

When an organism can make adjustments to its tolerance


levels over time to environmental conditions

Liebigslaw of
minimum

It states that growth is controlled not by the total of


resources available, but by the scarcest resource

Limiting factors

A factor that controls a process, such as organism growth or

It states that growth is


controlled not by the
total of resources
available, but by the
scarcest resource

Liebigslaw of
minimum

A factor that controls a


process, such as
organism growth or
species population size
or distribution.

Limiting Factor
In the

Environment
Ecosystem

Abiotic
All non-living things

Affect each other

Biotic
All living things

light
temp

nutrients

wind

pH
salinity

temp

water

atmosphere
Physical
Environment

rainfall

type

nutrients

Organism

soil

Geology

temp

altitude

contour

latitude

creates

MicroClimate

Climate
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MicroClimate

Biotic factors

MicroClimate

Predation parasitism
Competition food
territory
mates
Habitat

Organism

Niche

woodlice

affects

causes
WEATHER

acclimatation

Fundamental Niche

Root and leaf


litter zone
under trees

All earth with rotten material

Realised Niche

earth with rotten


material and less
competition

Decomposers of
rotten wood
and vegetation

To live in

Adaptations

A habitat that has

allow
tolerance

Behavioural
Hides under
damp logs to
stay moist

Structural
Legs adapted to
take up water

Optimum
range

Physiological
Body can stand
high
temperatures
for short time

Relationship between tolerance levels and stress levels


death

death

Maximum stress
level

All together makes up one species


Tolerance limits

Gauses Principle
If two species, with the same niche, coexist in the same
ecosystem, then one will be excluded from the community due
to intense competition.

environmental
conditions where a
species will function
at its best.

Optimum range

Environmental factor (eg temperature)

Physiological
stress

2.4 Ecology

Populations

Word

Definition

Organism

A single living individual

Population

All the organisms of a given species occupying a defined area

sampling

Counting a smaller number of organisms and calculating the estimated population size or density
in a given area.

Quadrat
sampling

Population count of a individual taken within an area of defined size at selected points.

Transect
sampling

Samples along a selected line (transect) through a community.

Capture /
Recapture

Lincoln Index
Total pop = No. of animals in 1st sample (marked) x No. of animals in 2nd sample
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------number of marked animals in 2nd sample (recaptured)

Population
number

The total number of individuals of a single species in a defined area

Density

Population density is total population size per unit of area.

Distribution

The way individuals in a population are spaced from each other


Clumped focused around tolerance levels of niche
Spaced often seen in territories
Random not based on distribution of resources

Age structure

Defines the relative proportions of individuals of each age:


a. Pre-reproductive
b. Reproductive
c. Post-reproductive

Natality

Birth rate, usually expressed as live births per 1,000 persons per year

Mortality

Death rate

Survivorship

Survivorship is the chance of an organism staying alive at any given age.

Survivorship
curves

By plotting survivorship data on a log scale we can construct survivorship curves.


There are three main types of survivorship curves.
Type l - low mortality in the juvenile phase (humans)
Type ll constant mortality rate through all ages (jellyfish, birds)
Type lll high juvenile mortality (shellfish, plants)

J - curves

Exponential growth followed by a crash in numbers, overshooting the carrying capacity

Sigmoid growth

S shaped growth curve in which numbers increase exponentially at first, followed by levelling off
of growth rate till numbers stabilize at carrying capacity.

Carrying
capacity

The maximum numbers of individuals that can be supported by a given environment

Population
growth

Population growth= Births Deaths + Immigration - Emigration

R- Selected
population
growth

Early reproduction, Short life span, High mortality rate, Little or no parental care, Large
investment in producing large numbers of offspring, Below carrying capacity

K-Selected
population
growth

Late reproduction, Long life span, Low mortality rate, Extensive parental care, Greater investment
in maintenance and survival of adults, At or near carrying capacity

Population
regulation

Factors that control population growth; include density dependant and density independant

Environmental
Resistance

Decreases the birth rate, or increases death rate, related to environmental conditions, such as
food & space.

Biotic Potential

maximum rate at which a population could grow given optimal conditions (food, water, space)

3. Natality rate drops or


mortality rate increases
as carrying capacity
approached

K= carrying capacity

4. The carrying capacity


of the environment is
reached. Natality equals
mortality.
1.
Population
low due to
lack of
breeding
individuals

2.
Exponential
growth with
few limiting
factors

5. The
population
fluctuates in
response to
changing
environmental
factors, or
because of
immigration /
emigration

Density
dependent

time

If none then
population reaches
biotic potential

Food, Water,
Shelter, Disease

Organism

Population
growth

Weather
extremes,
climate

Density
independent

Population
regulation

Number of individuals
in a defined area

Density

A single living individual

Population
number = 5
high

low

population
All the organisms of a
given species
occupying a defined
area
Po st rep ro ductives
O rganism s
have ceas ed to
breed bec ause
of dis ease or old age

Distribution

Age
Structure

N e w g e n e r a t io n

Clumped
Birth
rate
per
1000

Death
rate
per
1000

Uniform

Survivorship curves
Rapid growth

slow growth

Number of survivors (log scale)

P re reproductive
Im m ature organism s
not yet
reprod uctively active

Mortality

Natality

R ep ro d uctives
Produce offspring

Random

zero growth

Type l - low mortality in the juvenile phase

K-Selected
population
growth

Type ll constant mortality rate through all


ages
Type lll high juvenile mortality

Late reproduction, Long


life span, Low mortality
rate, Extensive parental
care, Greater investment
in maintenance and
survival of adults, At or
near carrying capacity

R-Selected
population
growth

Early reproduction, Short


life span, High mortality
rate, Little or no parental
care, Large investment in
producing large numbers
of offspring, Below
carrying capacity

Percentage of maximum life span


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Population

2.4 Ecology

Community

Word

Definition

Community

A area that contains populations of species interacting with each


other the biotic components of an ecosystem

Environmental
heterogeneity

a range of resources in the natural habitat - allows one species to


survive just beyond the niche limits of the other competing species.

Zonation

A graduated range of Abiotic factors (environmental) in an area examples a rocky shore and altitudinal zonation up the side of a
mountain.

Stratification

Stratification is caused by a vertical gradient of abiotic factors. This


may be seen in a forest where variation in light levels and quality,
temperature, wind, precipitation levels etc may determine the type
of species found at each level

Succession

Changes in species distribution in time. Changing environmental


conditions (abiotic) and the effect of previous species (biotic)
provide newly available niches that new species can exploit.

Intraspecific
interactions

Interactions between members of the same species

Competition

When two species or individuals compete for limited resources


causing harm to both (or decreased benefits)

Predation

The killing of other organisms for food

Predator-prey
cycles

The fluctuation in population number of predator which lags behind


the rise and fall of prey attributed to predation and environmental
factors

Territoriality

Territoriality means the claiming of space and the resulting


resources found within that space food, water, nesting sites, even
mating partners.

Home range

A home range is an area that an individual or group may occupy or


be found at various times of the year.

Interspecific
interactions

Relationships between members of different species.

Mutualism

Relationship between two species in which both species benefit eg


insect pollination

Commensalism

Relationship between two species in which one species benefits and


the other is not affected.

Amensalism

The presence of one species harms another but it is not affected


itself

Exploitation

Relationship between two species in which one species benefits at


the expense of another Predation predator kills prey, Herbivory
Herbivore doesnt kill plant, Parasitism doesnt kill its host

Antibiosis

Relationship between two species in which one benefits or is not


affected while the other one is harmed eg penicillin mould.

Social
organisation

Interactions within a group of individuals of the same species which


benefit the group as a whole may not benefit certain individuals
Individual (the female male have dependant cubs with her) eg,
Polar bears Family groups collect food and raise offspring together
eg, nesting birds

Changes in
species
distribution
in time

Community
Territory
Succession

time

Stratification

Zonation
A graduated range of
Abiotic factors (in an
area

Defending of space by a species

a vertical gradient
of abiotic factors

Patterns

location

Community

Home range
Area an individual or
group may occupy
A area that contains populations of
species interacting with each other

Same species

Environmental
heterogeneity
Intraspecific
interactions
a range of resources in
the natural habitat

Interspecific
interactions

Beneficial relationships
Resource sharing food, shelter
Offspring / juvenile rearing
Predation protection warning,
safety in numbers

Different species

Exploitation
Species
B

Species
A
Harmed

Benefits

Parasitism

Species
A

Species
A

organism doesn't kill


its host

Benefits

Benefits

Species
A

Species
A

Mutualism
Species
A

Species
B

Benefits

Benefits

Herbivory
Consuming plants for
food

Commensalism
Species
A

Species
B

Not affected

Benefits

Amensalism
Species
A

Species
B

Not affected

Harmed

Harmed

Predation
killing of other
organisms for food

Predator-prey cycles

Harmful relationships
Competition for resources
food, space, light, nutrients,
water, mates

Harmed

Social
organisation
Individual
Family Groups

Antibiosis
Species
A
Benefits or not affected

Species
B
Harmed

Competition
Species
A
Harmed

Extended Family Groups

Species
B
Harmed

Networks
Complex super organisations

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2.4 Ecology

Ecosystem

Word

Definition

ecosystem

A community plus all the non-living matter in the area, e.g. a forest
includes not only the inhabitants but also the non-living parts of the
soil.

Trophic level

Position of an organism in a food chain; plants occupy the first


trophic level and herbivores the second

Food chain

A series of organisms through which energy flows, the first link is


always a producer.

Food web

A series of food chains linked together showing the feeding


relationships of all species in a community.

Producer

Species occupying trophic level one, the plants and phytoplankton


that convert suns energy into food by the process of photosynthesis

Consumer

An organism that feeds off another organism, either plant or animal


or fungi often killing them in the process

Decomposer

An organism that feeds of dead organic material returning nutrients


into the ecosystem

Energy

Entering the ecosystem from the sun, about 1% gets converted to


chemical energy but photosynthesis

Pyramids of
energy

These show the proportion of energy stored at each trophic level,


approximately 10% get passed on to each successive trophic level.

Pyramids of
numbers

Showing the number of organisms at each level required to feed one


top carnivore.

Pyramids of
biomass

The total dry weight of organisms (standing crop) in a particular


trophic level. Organisms vary greatly in size, often being larger the
further up the trophic levels, so a pyramid of biomass more
accurately reflects the transfer of energy.

Heat energy

Pyramids of biomass decrease from one trophic level to the next.


Energy, in the form of heat energy is wasted at each step in a food
chain. This is due to:
respiration using up energy for movement and warmth; energy
(heat) lost to the surroundings; energy and materials lost in
excretion

Biochemical
cycles

Nutrients are continually recycled between the abiotic environment


and the biotic communities

Carbon Cycle

Carbon is circulated through the ecosystem from CO2 in the atmosphere to


carbon in organisms (via the photosynthesis process of plants). It is
released back to CO2 by respiration, decomposition after death,
transformation into fossil fuels (over millions of years) and eventual
combustion (burning)

Nitrogen Cycle

Nitrogen gas in the atmosphere is fixed into useable form by 1) nitrogen


fixing bacteria (in legumes) and nitrifying bacteria in nitrates or 2) lightning.
The plants can take up the nitrates through their roots and convert them to
amino acids then protein which can be passed along the food chain to
consumers. Bacteria can either decompose organisms back into nitrates for plants or
into N2 gas (denitrifying bacteria)

Phosphate cycle

Plants uptake phosphates from the soil through their roots. This is passed
on to the next trophic level through consumption. The phosphates are
released back into the soil by decomposers (bacterial or fungal)

ONE WAY travel of energy through an ecosystem


Consumer
An organism that feeds off
another organism, either plant
or animal or fungi often
killing them in the process

Species occupying trophic


level one, the plants and
phytoplankton that convert
suns energy into food by
the process of
photosynthesis

Energy lost
through
consumption

Light
energy

decomposer

Producer

producer

consumer

Energy lost through respiration and heat

photosynthesis

Decomposer
An organism that feeds of dead
organic material returning nutrients
into the ecosystem

A series of organisms
through which energy
flows, the first link is
always a producer.

Role

Trophic level

2nd carnivore

1st carnivore

herbivore

producer

Trophic
Levels

Ecosystem

Food chain

Position of an
organism in a
food chain

decomposer

Energy lost through death

Entering the ecosystem from the


sun, about 1% gets converted to
chemical energy but
photosynthesis

Consumer,
producer or
decomposer

Ecosystem
Circular travel of
nutrients through an
ecosystem

Energy
respiration

N2
CO2

Carnivores
respiration

photosynthesis

Carbon

NH4
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Pyramid of numbers

Nitrogen
fixing
bacteria

nitrification

Showing the
number of
organisms at
each level
required to
feed one top
carnivore.

Fossil
fuels

fossilisation

Producers
death

assimilation

combustion

10% passed
on to each
level

consumption

Herbivores

ammonium

Pyramid of energy
These show
the
proportion of
energy
stored at
each trophic
level

respiration

ammonification

Pyramids

Nutrient
cycles

C NO3

Nitrates
NO3-

Decomposers

decomposition

N2 CO2

The total dry


weight of
organisms
(standing crop)
in a particular
trophic level

Pyramid of biomass