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Ecology Notes

by: Jesse McDonald

Ecology Notes Biology 286

Jesse McDonald
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About this Document

Discussing the study of ecology, hierarchy, and the scientific method.
Introduction to Ecology and Evolution
Dr. Josh Springer
Class Notes
Ecology, scientific method




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This 2 page Class Notes was uploaded by Jesse McDonald on Thursday February 4, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Biology 286 at Purdue University taught by Dr. Josh Springer in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 161 views. For similar materials see Introduction to Ecology and Evolution in Biology at Purdue University.


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Date Created: 02/04/16
Lecture 1      Ecology: the study of the relationships between organisms and their environment.     Ecological System:   ● An ecological system may be an organism, a population, multiple populations, an  ecosystem or an entire biosphere  ● Organism is the fundamental unit of ecology  ○ The ultimate goal for all living organisms is to pass their genes on to successive  generations.   ○ Temperature, moisture, concentrations of oxygen and carbon dioxide, and light  intensity all influence basic physiological processes to survive and grow.   ■ Those listed above are abiotic factors ­ the physical and chemical factors  that organisms interact with.  ○ Organisms must recognize friend from foe, find potential mates, and hide from  predators.  ■ These are biotic factors ­ the living components of the environment  ● Hierarchy of the Ecological Systems:  1. Organism  2. Population ­ a group of individuals of the same species that occupy a given area  3. Community ­ all populations of different species living and interacting within an  ecosystem   a. Some populations compete with other populations for limited resources,  such as food, water, or space.   b. One population may be the food resource for another.  c. Two populations may mutually benefit each other, each doing better in the  presence of the other.   4. Ecosystem ­ populations interacting with the environment  5. Landscape ­ an area of land (or water) composed of a patchwork of communities  and ecosystems.  6. Biomes ­ the broad­scale regions dominated by similar types of ecosystems,  such as tropical rain forests, grasslands, and deserts.   7. Biosphere ­ highest level of organization ­ the thin layer surrounding the Earth  that supports all life.    Diversity of life is crucial to the maintenance of ecological systems:  ● An ecosystem is composed of many different species, each of which is essential for a  healthy ecosystem  ● As biologists, we tend to focus on the “macroorganisms”: plants, animals, fungi  ● But there are many species of microorganisms that are key components to many  ecosystems      The Scientific Method:   1. Observations ­ all scientific studies begin with observations of natural phenomenon.   2. Question ­ Observations give rise  to questions that seek an explanation of the observed  phenomenon.  3. Hypothesis ­ an educated guess about what the answer to the question may be.   a. The process of developing a developing a hypothesis is guided by experience  and knowledge, and it should be a statement of cause and effect that can be  tested.   4. Predictions ­ predictions that follow from the hypothesis must be identified. These  predictions must be testable.   5. Hypothesis Testing ­ the predictions that follow from the hypothesis must be tested  through observations and experiments (field and laboratory). Data from these  experiments must then be analyzed and interpreted to determine if they support or reject  the hypothesis.   a. If the experiment results are not consistent with the predictions, then the  conceptual model of how the system works must be reconsidered and a new  hypothesis must be constructed.  b. If the experiment results agree with the predictions, further observations will be  made and further hypotheses and predictions will be developed to expand the  scope of the problem being addressed.     Using the Scientific Method:   ● A continuous process of testing and correcting concepts to arrive at explanations for the  variation we observe in the world around us  ● Scientific concepts have no permanence because they are only our interpretations of  natural phenomena   ○ Limited to inspecting only a small part of nature   


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