Observe the cheetah hunting its prey. What is it called when one organism hunts another organism? Predation. Predation may not be good for the survival of an individual organism, but it is a very important part of life. This is because every interaction between an organism affects other organisms in an ecosystem.
What other things do you notice about the image? Where is the cheetah hunting? How do you think the cheetah has adapted to live in that particular environment? What do you think the weather is like? Does it rain a lot? Are there bigger trees? Or just small grasses?
All of the living and non-living things and how they interact with each other make up an ecosystem. The study of these interactions is called ecology. Ecologists ask questions like, "What would happen if the cheetahs' prey goes extinct?" and, "What would happen if a fire wiped out the grasslands where cheetahs live?"
Think about other interactions between organisms you have observed. Maybe you have seen a bee sucking the nectar out of a flower, or a cow grazing on grass. What habitats do these organisms live in? How do humans affect their habitats?
All of these questions are ecological questions. Think about them as you read the following chapter.
Demetrius John Kessy.www.flickr.com/photos/diamondglacieradventures/5613298173/. CC BY 2.0.