Posts Tagged ‘diagram’

  • Distinguish between biotic and abiotic (physical) components of an ecosystem.

*Biotic: refers to the living components of an ecosystem. (the community)

*Abiotic: refers to the non-living factors of an ecosystem. (the environment)

Ecosystems are made up of living and non-living components. The living part of the environment consists of the organic part of the ecosystem; animals, plants, algae, fungi and bacteria. These are called biotic components. The non-living part of the environment is made up of physical components such as; air, light, water, temperature, soil, minerals and climatic atmosphere. These are called abiotic components. These two components work together to sustain the environment.

  • Define the term trophic level.

Trophic level refers to the feeding level within a food chain. It is the position that an organism occupies in a food chain, or a group of organisms in a community that occupy the same position in food chains.

  • Trophic level 1 – producer
  • Trophic level 2 – herbivore (primary consumers)
  • Trophic level 3 – carnivore (secondary consumers)
  • Trophic level 4 – carnivore (tertiary consumer)
    • Identify and explain trophic levels in food chains and food webs selected from the local environment.

    *Producer: The organism in the ecosystem that converts abiotic components into living matter, they help the ecosystem by producing new biological matter.

    *Consumer: These organisms cannot produce their own food, so they eat other organisms to get the energy and matter they need.

    * Decomposer: Feed on dead biomass which is created by the ecosystem.

    *Herbivore: Only feed on producers.

    *Carnivore: Feed on all organisms including producers and consumers.

    *Top carnivore: This organism can not be eaten by any other organism.

    Sun: Provides the abiotic matter to the grass

    Grass: Producer and autotroph, provide food for the deer.

    Deer: The primary consumer and herbivore of the grass.

    Wolf: The secondary consumer/Top consumer and carnivore, feeds on the deer and cannot be eaten by any other organism.

    Ecosystems contain many interconnected food chains that form food webs. Food chains always begin with the producers (usually photosynthetic organisms), followed by primary consumers (herbivores), secondary consumers (omnivores or carnivores) and then higher consumers (tertiary, top). Decomposers feed at every level of the food chain.

    Diagrams of food webs can be used to estimate the knock-on effects of changes to the ecosystem.

    Biomass and energy decrease at each trophic level so there is a limit in how much trophic levels can be supported in a ecosystem. Energy is lost as heat at each stage of the food chain, on only energy stored in biomass is passed on to the next trophic level. After 4 or 5 trophic levels there is not enough energy to support another stage.

    Local example: (Lake in Sweden)

    Producer: Freshwater shrimp

    Primary consumer: Bleak

    Secondary consumer: Perch

    Secondary consumer: Northen Pike

    Top consumer: Osprey

    • Explain the principles of pyramids of numbers, pyramids of biomass, and pyramids of productivity, and construct such pyramids from given data.

    Pyramids are graphical models showing the quantitative differences between the trophic levels of an ecosystem. There are three types:

    • Pyramids of numbers: This records the number of individuals in each trophic level.

    • Pyramid of biomass: This represents the biological mass of the standing stock at each trophic level at a particular point in time. Biomass should also be measured in units of energy, such as J m-2. They can show greater quantities at higher trophic levels because they represent the biomass present at a given time. Both pyramids of numbers and biomass represent storages.

    • Pyramid of productivity: This shows the flow of energy through each trophic level. Measured in units of flow gm-2 yr-1 or Jm-2 yr.

    In accordance with the second law of thermodynamics, there is a tendency for numbers and quantities of biomass and energy to decrease along food chains; therefore pyramids become narrower as one ascends.

    • Discuss how the pyramid structure affects the functioning of an ecosystem.

    This Youtube clip explains the interactions in food chains and the vulnerability of the top carnivores.

    • Define the term species, population, habitat, niche, community and ecosystem with reference to local examples.

    *Species: A group of of organisms that interbreed and produce fertile offspring. If two species breed together they create a hybrid, this cannot produce viable gametes and is sterile.

    *Population: A group of the same species living in the same area at the same time, and can interbreed.

    *Habitat: The environment in which a species normally lives.

    *Niche: Where and how a species lives. A species share of a habitat and the resources in it.

    *Community: A group of populations living and interacting with each other in a common habitat.

    *Ecosystem: A community of inter-independent organisms and the physical environment they inhabit.

    • Describe and explain population interactions using examples of named species.

    Ecosystems contain many interactions between the populations, the interactions are varied and can be divided into; competition, predation, mutualism and parasitism.

    *Competition: A common demand by two or more organisms upon a limited supply of a resource; for example, food, water, light, space, mates, nesting sites. It may be intraspecific or interspecific.

    *Parasitism: A relationship between two species in which one species (the parasite) lives in or on another (the host), gaining all or much (in the case of the partial parasite) of its food from it.

    *Mutualism: A relationship between individuals of two or more species in which all benefit and non suffer.

    *Predation: This is when on animal or plant hunts and eats another animal.


    Here are 3 Youtube links about Interspecific interactions.

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    • Explain difficulties in applying the concept of carrying capacity to local human populations.

    If one were to examine the needs of a given species and the resources available, it could be possible to estimate the carrying capacity of that environment for the species. This is problematic when it comes to the human population for many reasons like:

    • Resources used by humans are much more than any other species and when this source becomes limited humans begin to substitute one resource for another. The use of resources change from person to person, lifestyle to lifestyle, time to time and population to population.
    • Developments in technology increase the changes of the resource consumption.
    • The human population also import resources very often which come from outside their environment, which makes the grow beyond the boundaries set by their local resources and lets their carrying capacity increase. This however does not affect the global carrying capacity.

    These variables make it almost impossible to make reliable estimates of carrying capacities for the human populations.

    *Carrying capacity: The maximum number of a species or ”load” that can be sustainably supported by a given environment.

    Here we can see 3 models of a population growing and approaching carrying capacity.

    *Optimum population: the number of people which when working with all the available resources, will make the highest per capita economic return. it shows the point at which the population has the highest standard of living and quality of life.

    Standard of living is the result of the interaction between physical and human resources and can be expressed as:

    Standard of living: (natural resources X technology) / population

    *Over-population: this happens when there are too many people compared to the resources and technology available for the standard of living. They suffer from natural disasters such as droughts and famine, low incomes, poverty, poor living conditions and a lot of emigration.

    *Under-population: this happens when there are too many resources in one area that is too much for the people living there. Countries like this could export their surplus food, energy and mineral resources.

    • Explain how absolute reductions in energy and material use, reuse and recycling can affect human carrying capacity.

    Human carrying capacity is determined by the rate of energy and material consumption, the level of pollution and the extent of human interference in global life-support systems. While reuse and recycling reduce these impacts, they can also increase the human carrying capacity.

    *Recycle: when a household or industrial waste is reused and made into another product, like plastic, metals and paper.

    *Re-use: when a product is used more than once by returning it to the manufacturer or processor each time. This is very energy efficient and more efficient than recycling.

    *Reduce: this is when energy use is decrease for example turning off the lights when not needed or using the amount of water needed in a kettle.

    *Substitution: when using one resource over the other, the use of renewable source over a non-renewable source is a major benefit to the environment.