Ecology is the study of the interactions of living things. This is a large unit that could take an entire trimester to learn and teach. In our time we will learn about some major topics within ecology and see how humans have had an impact on the world itself.

The first focus will be with energy transfer. We can see energy transfer in several chains, food webs, and in energy pyramids. The focus, no matter how you are seeing it, is to show how energy moves from one trophic level to the next. These sequences begin with the producer or autotroph. These are the organisms that make their own food (like plants and photosynthesis). They are eaten by the consumers or heterotrophs, those that must rely on others to obtain their energy.

Above: A food web. Follow the arrows to see where the energy transfers.

Above: Energy pyramid

The second topic we will cover is the study of populations. We will study how populations grow and are controlled in nature (see pics below), as well as how the interactions between various populations will affect population size. There are many factors that will affect populations that can be categorized by the size of the population itself. For example, density dependent limiting factors generally affect larger populations only. These include competition, predation, diseases, parasitism, and over-crowding. Density independent limiting factors are those that will affect any population size and include drought, flooding, natural disasters, temperature changes, and any season changes.

Above: two examples of growth patterns. An example of exponential growth would be the human population. Logistic growth is what most populations in nature follow.

The third topic we will cover in this unit will be looking at how the land and earth work-overall interactions-and then we will look at how humans are affecting Earth. We will study the three of the natural cycles of the planet (water, nitrogen, and carbon) and will learn about succession. Succession is the establishment or re-establishment of a community over time. After we have a firm understanding of how the planet and all of its biotic and abiotic parts work, we will look at a few areas where humans have interfered. Topics will include invasive species, bioaccumulation, and climate change.

Above: Primary vs. secondary succession. Primary begins where no soil is present while secondary is the reestablishment where soil is present.





*To help you study the natural cycles found in nature

*An additional practice on some ecological concepts we have learned

*To review the concepts in ecology

*One from class is not working-use this one instead!

On-line lab

Ecology Terminology Review Video

Populations Review Video

Biogeochemical Cycles Video
*Goes through the 6 cycles in nature

Biogeochemical Cycles Video-Bozeman

-Build your own food chains/webs

r and K species Video

-What is an ecosystem
*A video on You-Tube to help explain

Nitrogen Cycle Game

Carbon Cycle Game

Water Cycle Game