About This Chapter
Ecology Overview - Chapter Summary and Learning Objectives
Ecology is the study of relationship among living organisms and their environments, from the tiniest bacteria to weather systems that span continents. In this chapter, our instructors will explain the ways scientists view the world from an ecological perspective. You'll look at how species react to changes in their environments and the kind of relationships animals create among themselves. You'll see how ecologists make calculations about certain populations and what these numbers can tell us. This chapter can help you understand the following:
- How populations interact with their ecosystems
- What happens when ecosystems are disrupted
- The cycles of important elements throughout an ecosystem
- Different ecosystems that exist on earth
|The Environment, Levels of Ecology, and Ecosystems||Learn the difference between an environment and an ecosystem as defined by the scientists who study them.|
|Ecosystems, Habitats, and Ecological Niches||Understand the terms used to talk about the role and living space of animals within ecosystems.|
|Food Chains, Trophic Levels, and Energy Flow in an Ecosystem||Explore how to classify animals in an ecosystem by their place on the food chain or what they eat.|
|Interspecific Competition, Competitive Exclusion, and Niche Differentiation||See what happens when species in the same area are competing for resources.|
|The 10 Percent Rule||Examine the process of energy transfer along the food chain and what is lost in normal conditions.|
|Predator/Prey Interactions, Camouflage, Mimicry, and Warning Coloration||Take a look at some of the ways that animals attempt to fend off predators or attract prey.|
|Symbiotic Relationships: Mutualism, Commensalism, and Parasitism||Learn the different ways that animals can live together long-term.|
|Populations: Density, Survivorship, and Life Histories||Understand the ways that scientists study and graph populations within a geographic area.|
|Carrying Capacity, Migration, and Dispersion||Explore how populations move and grow due to environmental factors.|
|Dispersal, Colonization, and Island Biogeography||See how species can expand their territory or why they remain limited in an environment.|
|Conservation Biology, Habitat Fragmentation, and Metapopulations||Examine the effect that humans have had on wildlife and what they have done to help.|
|Ecological Succession: From Pioneer to Climax Communities||Take a look at how ecosystems grow and change to reach their ultimate destination.|
|How Introduced and Invasive Species Alter the Ecological Balance||Learn how new species can disrupt an existing ecosystem.|
|Biomes: Desert, Tropical Rainforest, Savanna, Coral Reefs, and More||Understand the classification of these different environments around the world.|
|Biomes: Tundra, Taiga, Temperature Grassland, and Coastlines||Explore these biomes, including their weather, organisms, and geography.|
|Biogeochemical Cycling and the Phosphorus Cycle||See how elements and molecules cycle through life forms on the earth.|
|The Nitrogen Cycle, Acid Rain, and Fossil Fuels||Examine the important nitrogen cycle and how it affects life on Earth.|
|The Carbon Cycle and Long-Term Carbon Storage||Take a look at the essential element carbon as it travels through life forms on our planet.|
|Fossil Fuels, Greenhouse Gases, and Global Warming||Learn about these adverse affects to our planet.|
1. The Environment, Levels of Ecology and Ecosystems
Do you know the difference between an environment and an ecosystem? In this lesson, you'll find out what makes an environment, and what makes an ecosystem. You'll also learn what ecology is and some of the ways that scientists study ecology using organisms, populations, communities, ecosystems and even the entire biosphere.
2. Ecosystems, Habitats and Ecological Niches
Check out this video lesson to understand the many complex aspects of an ecosystem. See how animals live in habitats and survive amongst their surroundings.
3. Food Chains, Trophic Levels and Energy Flow in an Ecosystem
In this lesson, you'll learn about food chains, food webs, and the different roles that organisms play in an ecosystem. You'll also learn about how energy flows through an ecosystem.
4. Interspecific Competition, Competitive Exclusion & Niche Differentiation
What happens when two similar species that consume the same resources occupy the same space? Interspecific competition, that's what! Watch our video lesson to learn about the outcomes of this ecological battle.
5. Predator/Prey Interactions, Camouflage, Mimicry & Warning Coloration
You probably know that skunks can be quite stinky, bees sting and monarch butterflies are pretty, but do you know why? This lesson will introduce you to the reasons why some animals look or act the way they do and how these things relate to the predator/prey relationship.
6. Symbiotic Relationships: Mutualism, Commensalism & Parasitism
If your cat or dog has ever had fleas, you've witnessed symbiosis in action. In this lesson, learn the many types of symbiosis in biology, and how these relationships can have a positive, negative, or neutral effect on the individual species.
7. Populations: Density, Survivorship and Life Histories
Have you ever wondered how biologists determine the populations of animals in a particular geographic area? Watch this video lesson to find out, and discover how scientists look at the survivorship and life histories of many different species.
8. Carrying Capacity, Migration & Dispersion
Have you ever wondered why some types of birds fly south in the winter or why some animals form territories? Watch this video to learn about a species' maximum growth capabilities, the way its members group themselves and why they might migrate to new locations every year.
9. Dispersal, Colonization, and Island Biogeography
Have you ever gone in your backyard and discovered a wild raspberry bush that has never been there before? How did it get there? Why is there only one bush year after year? In this lesson, you'll study how plant and animal species colonize in new areas through dispersal and immigration and how some species thrive in a new area while others fail.
10. Conservation Biology, Habitat Fragmentation, and Metapopulations
It's becoming harder to conserve large, unbroken tracts of wilderness. Is there another way for conservation biologists to ensure the survival of a species? In this lesson, you'll learn about habitat fragmentation and metapopulations.
11. Ecological Succession: From Pioneer to Climax Communities
Just as people grow and change so, too, do ecosystems. Watch this lesson to learn about ecological succession from the beginning stages of development to a community's ultimate destination, or climax.
12. How Introduced and Invasive Species Alter Ecological Balance
What happens to your block when a new neighbor moves in? Something changes, right? Now think about that on an ecological scale: what happens to an environment when a new SPECIES moves in?
13. Biomes: Desert, Tropical Rainforest, Savanna, Coral Reefs & More
Take a trip around the world and learn all about different biomes. Why can you only find certain plants and animals in specific places? What are the most fertile climates on Earth? Watch on to answer these and other questions.
14. Biomes: Tundra, Taiga, Temperate Grassland, and Coastlines
Take a trip with us in this lesson, starting in the Pacific Ocean, traveling across California through the Central Valley and up to the peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountains. We'll learn how oceans, elevation, and people can determine which types of biomes are found in different areas and check out the Earth's most massive and oldest organisms.
15. Biogeochemical Cycling and the Phosphorus Cycle
In this video lesson, we'll take a look at how elements large and small use other elements to grow. This is achieved through cycles. We'll look at macronutrients, trace elements and the biogeochemical and phosphorous cycles.
16. The Nitrogen Cycle, Acid Rain and Fossil Fuels
Do you know the difference between nitrite and nitrate? Do you have any clue how all the nitrogen in the atmosphere becomes usable? If you can't answer these questions, then you need to watch this lesson on the nitrogen cycle.
17. The Carbon Cycle and Long-Term Carbon Storage
All living organisms have a role in the carbon cycle. Do you know you understand how humans, animals and plants use carbon? This lesson will introduce you to the carbon cycle and explain how it functions on a global scale.
18. Fossil Fuels, Greenhouse Gases, and Global Warming
In this video lesson, you'll learn what roles fossil fuels and greenhouse gases play in global warming, as well as what life on Earth can expect due to rising carbon dioxide levels within Earth's atmosphere.
19. Human Impacts on the Environment
The human population continues to grow, but the size of Earth and the resources available for our use are limited. Humans greatly impact the world around them, and our actions can and often do have dramatic and long-lasting consequences.
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