Ecology. Molecular Biology. Biochemistry. and physiology. Ecology

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1 Variety of Life and Relation of Organisms with their Environment... Page 36 Ecology Syllabus : Ecosystem - the meaning of the terms : biosphere, biome, ecosystem, community and population. the concept of habitat and niche of an organism; an outline of population growth and the factors affecting it; an outline of biotic and abiotic factors in ONE local ecosystem and their effects on the distribution and abundance of organisms in that ecosystem; the use of an appropriate sampling method, such as the quadrat, line transect and belt transect, to study the distribution and abundance of organisms. Energy flow and nutrient cycling the transfer of energy between different trophic levels and its relative efficiency; the importance of producers, consumers (including detritivores) and decomposers in the cycling of nutrients.; the concepts of food chain, food web and trophic level; the pyramid of number, pyramid of biomass, and pyramid of energy; the nitrogen and carbon cycles. Interdependence of organisms the interactions between organisms: predation, competition, commensalism, mutualism and parasitism. Succession a simple account of ecological succession, including primary and secondary succession, and climax community. Introduction Ecology is the study of the relationships of living organisms with each other and their non-living or physical surroundings. The relationship of ecology to other branches of biology is summarised below. Genetics Cytology Molecular Biology genes cells Histology Anatomy Biochemistry and physiology tissues organs organisms populations communities Ecology ecosystems Biosphere [Note] The whole planet, the Earth, operates as an ecosystem. The oceans, forests, grasslands etc. are smaller ecosystems which are linked, by energy flow and exchange of materials, to form the overall planetary ecosystem. Ecosystem It comprises both the physical environment and all the organisms in a given area. The organisms interact with each other and with the physical environment, forming a relatively stable system. In other words, a natural unit comprising biotic components (including all the organisms) and abiotic components (including all the physical factors), which interact

2 Variety of Life and Relation of Organisms with their Environment... Page 37 with each other through the flow of energy and cycling of materials, in a defined area is an ecosystem. Terms to be known : Biome : a large and distinct terrestrial region characterized by a dominant form of vegetation determined by typical climatic conditions Biosphere : the largest ecosystem, it includes all ecosystem on the Earth; it is a global ecological system in which the organisms interact with each other and with the physical environments. Habitat : a physical environment in which an organism lives. Ecological niche : in an ecosystem, different species of organisms fulfill different ecological functions; the functional role that a species plays within a community is called its ecological niche : the ecological niche of an organisms is determined by three factors : 1. the place that it lives, i.e. its habitat 2. its behaviour or its entire way of life; 3. its interactions with the community and the habitat, e.g. its feeding habit (what type of food it feeds on). Population : a group of organisms of one species occupying a defined area and usually isolated to some degree from other similar groups. Community : any group of organisms belonging to a number of different species that coexist in the same habitat or area and interact through trophic and spatial relationships. Exercise : (90 I 7a) Distinguish between niche and habitat. (93 I 6b) Distinguish between biome and habitat Population growth: The following are some methods for estimating the population density of organisms : A. Direct counting :- - usually used in opened area for large animals or plants which populations are small B. Marking-recapture method :- - firstly, some individuals a are capture from a population N, marked by spots of colour or rings and released - after a certain time, a second capture is made, if this time b individuals are captured, of which c are marked, then a/n = c/b or N = ab/c where N is the original population of the organism - this method is commonly used in animals like bats, birds and fish, in making the calculation, following assumptions should be made : a. organisms mix randomly within the population b. sufficient tome must elapse between capture and recapture c. organisms disperse evenly within the geographical area of the population d. it is only applicable to populations restricted geographically e. changes in population size i.e. migration, birth and death are negligible.

3 Variety of Life and Relation of Organisms with their Environment... Page 38 C. Sampling :- - most widely used method - the density of a population in a small area is counted and is used to represent the value of the whole area inhabited by the species - the main difficulty lies in selecting a sample that is as representative as possible of the whole population generally many samples from different typical locations are counted to give the average Factors affecting population growth : A. Environmental resistance :- - is the collective name given to those factors which actively decrease the fertility and survival of the individuals, in turn limit the growth of a population a. Physical factors: such as temperature, light-intensity, shelter, nutrients, gases, water and accumulation of toxic waste, etc. [Note] A habitat under a given set of environmental conditions, can only support the population to reach a saturation point known as the carrying capacity. The carrying capacity of a population in a habitat will change when there are changes in environmental conditions. b. Biotic factors : i/ predation = they prey on a particular species play a critical part in keeping down the population of that species = if the predation relationship is worked out under an artificial condition, the predator could find all the prey and ate them all and then it dies out due to starvation i.e. both species died = however, when the prey and predator interaction in nature, the following curves result UB p132 fig 10.3 Fig. 26 Relationship between prey and predator populations. = In natural ecosystem, the prey would survive because they could escape, thus the preys could reproduce and grow elsewhere. Therefore both the predators and preys could exist together, but followed some periodic oscillations. the number of predators is usually less than the number of prey the shape of the two curves is similar, but there is a time lag between the two i.e. the curve for the predators lags behind that of the prey

4 Variety of Life and Relation of Organisms with their Environment... Page 39 Exercise : (99 I 4) In an experiment to study the interaction of organisms, a student introduced some zooplankton X into a culture of zooplankton Y kept in a jar. The graph below shows the population changes of X and Y in the jar based on the data obtained from this experiment. It is known that these two zooplanktons are not competitors, and they have similar masses and similar turnover rates. (a) Identify the relationship between X and Y. [1 mark] Number of individuals Zooplankton Y Zooplankton X Time (b) (i) Sketch a graph to show what you would expect to find in the population pattern of X and Y if they were allowed interact in the natural environment. (Do not use graph paper.) (ii) Account for the difference in population pattern when X and Y were allowed to interact in the natural environment compared to when they were kept in the jar. [3 marks] ii/ competition = individuals in a population are continually competing with each other, there are two types : (1) intra-specific competition : competition between individuals of the same species (2) interspecific competition : competition between individuals of different species : the intensity of competition depends on the degree to which the two species share on that common resources B. Biotic potential (reproductive potential) :- Refers to the inherent power of a population to increase in numbers when the age ratio is stable and all environmental conditions are optimal. It is affected by : 1. time required for the individual to reach sexual maturity 2. the number of living individuals in a population 3. the average survival time (life span) of individuals 4. age of the individual Population growth curve : When the birth rate exceeds the death rate, a population will grow in size. Sigmoid (S-shaped) curve :- - the curve can be seen to be quite S-shaped, it can be divided into 4 main phases 1. lag phase == if only a few individuals are present initially, the rate of growth will be very slow 2. log phase (exponential phase) == as the numbers increase, more individuals become available for reproduction and the population grows at an ever increasing rate, provided no factor limits growth

5 Variety of Life and Relation of Organisms with their Environment... Page 40 [Note] growth cannot continue indefinitely because there is a limit to the number of individuals that any area can support, this is the carrying capacity of that area. 3. stationary phase == beyond this point certain factors limit further population growth, the size of the population may then stabilize at a particular level 4. death phase == the high population level may cause the carrying capacity of the environment to decline, so the population falls UB p129 fig 10.1 Fig. 27 Growth of a population (sigmoid curve) Age Pyramids : Age pyramids refers to the distribution of individuals in a population into age classes. Generally, the youngest are at the base and the oldest at the top, males in the left and females on the right. Ecologically the individuals in a population can be divided into three groups : pre-reproductive (immature), reproductive (mature) and post-reproductive (old). Post-reproductive Reproductive male female Pre-reproductive

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