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Principles of Ecology

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Introduction to Ecology

Do organisms live in isolation?

No, organisms are not separated from their environment or from other organisms. They interact in many ways with their surroundings. For example, this deer may be drinking from this stream or eating nearby plants. Ecology is the study of these interactions.

Introduction to Ecology

Life Science can be studied at many different levels. You can study small things like cells. Or you can study big things like a group of animals. You can also study the biosphere, which is any area in which organisms live. The study of the biosphere is part of ecology , the study of how living organisms interact with each other and with their environment.

Research in Ecology

Ecology involves many different fields, including geology, soil science, geography, meteorology, genetics, chemistry, and physics. You can also divide ecology into the study of different organisms, such as animal ecology, plant ecology, insect ecology, and so on.

Organisms and Environments

All organisms have the ability to grow and reproduce. To grow and reproduce, organisms must get materials and energy from the environment. Plants obtain their energy from the sun through photosynthesis , whereas animals obtain their energy from other organisms. Either way, these plants and animals, as well as the bacteria and fungi, are constantly interacting with other species as well as the non-living parts of their ecosystem.

An organism’s environment includes two types of factors:

  1. Abiotic factors are the parts of the environment that are not living, such as sunlight, climate, soil, water, and air.
  2. Biotic factors are the parts of the environment that are alive, or were alive and then died, such as plants, animals, and their remains. Biotic factors also include bacteria, fungi and protists.

Ecology studies the interactions between biotic factors, such as organisms like plants and animals, and abiotic factors. For example, all animals (biotic factors) breathe in oxygen (abiotic factor). All plants (biotic factor) absorb carbon dioxide (abiotic factor) and need water (abiotic factor) to survive.

Can you think of another way that abiotic and biotic factors interact with each other?

Vocabulary

  • abiotic factor : Aspect of the environment that is not a living organism, such as soil, water or air.
  • biome : Large community of plants and animals distinguished by the dominant forms of animal and plant life and the climate.
  • biotic factor : Components of the environment that are living, or were alive and then died, such as plants or animals.
  • biosphere : Part of the planet and atmosphere with living organisms.
  • ecology : Study of how living organisms interact with each other and with their environment.

Summary

  • Ecology is the study of how living organisms interact with each other and with their environment.
  • Abiotic factors are the parts of the environment that have never been alive, while biotic factors are the parts of the environment that are alive, or were alive and then died.

Review

  1. What do ecologists study?
  2. In a forest, what are some biotic factors present? Abiotic factors?

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