Chapter 3 How Ecosystems Work. You could cover the whole world with asphalt, but sooner or later green grass would break through.

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1 Chapter 3 How Ecosystems Work You could cover the whole world with asphalt, but sooner or later green grass would break through. Ilya Ehrenburg

2 Energy Flow in Ecosystems For most living organisms the sun is the ultimate source of it s energy. The suns energy is captured by organisms that can do photosynthesis. All green plants, some bacteria and a few protists. Energy can then be transferred to other organisms.

3 Energy Relationships Producers are organisms that can produce their own food. Also known as autotrophs (self-feeders). Consumers are organisms that get their energy from eating other organisms. Also known as heterotrophs (other-feeders). Producers get their energy directly from the sun. Consumers get their energy indirectly from the sun.

4 Chemosynthetics Not all organisms use the sun as their energy source. Some bacteria can use the chemical energy found in sulfide and nitrogen compounds. Also known as chemotrophs (chemical eaters). Found in deep ocean ecosystems. Recent research has shown that these ecosystems may contain more than 50% of the worlds biomass.

5 Who eats what? Within an ecosystem there are various relationships. Herbivores consumers that only eat producers. Carnivores consumers that eat only other consumers. Omnivores consumers that eat both producers and other consumers. The most versatile organisms in the ecosystem. Decomposers break down dead organisms, producers and consumers. Return nutrients to the ecosystem.

6 Cellular Respiration The process that all living things use to obtain energy from nutrients. Done by both autotrophs and heterotrophs. Can be aerobic or anaerobic. Some organisms are strictly aerobic or anaerobic. Others can switch back & forth depending on conditions (facultative anaerobes).

7 Energy Transfer As organisms are eaten or decompose, energy is transferred. This transfer of energy can be tracked and mapped using food chains, food webs, and trophic levels.

8 Food Chains & Food Webs Food chain - a sequence that shows the transfer of energy from one organism to the next. Usually linear in nature. Can also be used to show the movement of toxins/poisons through the food chain. Food webs more accurate depiction of the energy transfer. Shows all of the feeding relationships in the ecosystem. Made up of a number of interconnected food chains.

9 Trophic Levels Each step in the energy transfer within an ecosystem is called a trophic level. Each time energy is transferred from one trophic level to the next some is lost. Usually figure that only 10% of the energy is transferred between trophic levels. Some decomposer food webs can show higher efficiencies (20-40%).

10 Trophic Levels Due to the energy loss, usually find fewer organisms at the higher trophic levels. Almost always find the producers to be the largest number (the most energy available). Energy loss also usually limits the number of trophic levels available. Seldom have more than 4 or 5, although some decomposer webs can have 8-10 trophic levels.

11 Water Cycle Water is physically changed in a cyclic manner. Sunlight provides the energy that drives the water cycle. Sunlight causes water to evaporate. As it cools, it condenses and returns as precipitation.

12 Water Cycle (cont.) Precipitation can take several pathways: Some can land in the oceans. Some can land on land. Some can run along the surface surface water. Some can soak into the soil and be taken up by plants. Some can seep through the soil and collect in aquifers groundwater.

13 Water Cycle (cont.) Surface runoff can collect in streams and rivers that eventually flow into oceans. Groundwater can flow into streams and rivers also. Some precipitation can land on trees and either be evaporated back into the atmosphere or run down the trunk interception.

14 Water Cycle (cont.) Water taken up by plants can be evaporated back by process of transpiration. Water can also be used by domestic uses as well as industrial uses. Development of land can alter the water cycle.

15 Water Cycle

16 Carbon Cycle The carbon cycle involves changing carbon from inorganic forms to organic forms and back to inorganic forms. Inorganic carbon (CO2) is removed from the atmosphere during photosynthesis. Inorganic carbon is converted into organic forms (glucose, lipids, proteins, etc).

17 Carbon Cycle (cont.) Organic carbon is converted back into inorganic form during respiration. Burning of fossil fuels releases inorganic carbon into the atmosphere. Deforestation removes large producers that could help process inorganic carbon. Increased CO2 has been linked to global warming.

18 Carbon Cycle

19 Carbon Cycle

20 Nitrogen Cycle Nitrogen needed to build proteins. 78% of atmosphere made of N2. Only a few bacteria can convert N2 into a useable form. Nitrogen-fixing bacteria( NH4+) Nitrogen-fixing bacteria found free-living or within roots of certain plants (legumes).

21 Nitrogen Cycle (cont.) Plants convert NH4+ into amino acids and proteins. Animals get useable nitrogen (amino acids) by eating plants or other animals. Decomposers (bacteria & fungi) breakdown wastes & dead organisms, returning nitrogen to soil & water as NH4+.

22 Nitrogen Cycle (cont.) NH4+ can be taken up by plants again and used again. Some NH4+ can be converted into nitrates (NO3) by nitrifying bacteria. Nitrifying bacteria require aerobic conditions. Nitrates can then be converted into N2 by denitrifying bacteria. Denitrifying bacteria require anaerobic conditions.

23 Nitrogen Cycle

24 Nitrogen Cycle

25 Succession Succession a regular pattern of changes over time in the type of species in a community. Process may take hundreds or thousands of years. As species change they alter the environment, allowing new species to come in.

26 Succession (cont.) Eventually reach a stable, unchanging community climax community. When succession occurs where no ecosystem has existed before primary succession. When succession occurs where a ecosystem has previously existed secondary succession.

27 Succession (cont.) The first plants to colonize an area pioneers. Eventually taller plants move in and shade out the pioneers. The shrubs and bushes will move in and eventually trees. Climax communities will remain stable unless there is a disturbance.

28 Disturbance Disturbances can be large scale or small scale. Large scale can be forest fires, earthquakes, floods, volcanic activity, or deforestation. Small scale disturbances can be a tree falling over.

29 Disturbance (cont.) Some ecosystems need periodic disturbances. Jack pine forests need fire to disperse their seeds. Pin cherry trees need sunlight to warm the soils for their seeds to sprout. Man s interference w/ natural disturbances can cause considerable damage to an ecosystem.

30 Primary Succession Succession that starts w/ bare rock. Pioneer species are usually lichens & mosses. Help break up the rock & form soil. Allows for grasses & ferns to move in. Grasses & ferns crowd out the lichens & mosses.

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