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Intro to Environmental Science 001

by: Sadie Shelton

Intro to Environmental Science 001 ENSC 001

Marketplace > University of Vermont > Environmental Science > ENSC 001 > Intro to Environmental Science 001
Sadie Shelton

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About this Document

Lectures 5 and 6 in one document. Ecosystems
Intro Environmental Sci
Nicholas P. Perdrial
Class Notes
intro, environmental, Science, 001, ensc, 1
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This 6 page Class Notes was uploaded by Sadie Shelton on Sunday February 21, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to ENSC 001 at University of Vermont taught by Nicholas P. Perdrial in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 18 views. For similar materials see Intro Environmental Sci in Environmental Science at University of Vermont.


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Date Created: 02/21/16
Tuesday, February 16, 2016 Lecture 5 & 6: Ecosystems & Food Chains ENSC 001 Humans and Nature - Humans are a part of nature • Humans are dependent on natural systems - Natural systems are essential to our survival and long term prosperity - Like other living species we depend on soil, air, water, sun and a host of living organisms to survive - Without plants and algae nothing would survive Ecology - Field of science that seeks to describe relationship between organisms and their chemical and physical environment. Ecologists study how organisms interact with one another and how they interact with the abiotic components of the environment. Structure of Natural Systems - Biosphere • Enormous biological system • Spans entire planet • Works in cycles: closed system ‣ Materials are recycled • Only outside contribution in the sun - Biome • Biosphere consists of distinct regions called biomes and aquatic life zones - Ex: tundra, tropical rainforest, desert - Each has its own chemical and physical conditions and unique assemblage of organisms 1 Tuesday, February 16, 2016 • In a biome, abiotic conditions (rainfall, temp, soil type) determine the plant communities • The plant communities then determine which animals can survive in that area • 5 major biomes in North America: - Tundra: long winters, short growing season, grass, moss, lichen, wolves, musk ox, few trees, perm frost - Taiga/boreal forest: trees, more diversity and abundance of plant and animals, evergreen trees, bear, moose, wolverine - Temperate Deciduous Forest: east of Mississippi R, warmer climate, abundant rainfall, opossums, blackberry, squirrels, fox, broad leaves trees - Grassland: west of Mississippi river, dryer climate, not enough water for trees, deep-rooted grass, coyotes, hawks, bison - Desert: very little rain, rich diversity adapted to acidity and heat, cacti, mesquite, rattlesnakes, lizards - Ecosystem Biological systems consisting of organisms and their environment • • Organisms thrive within a range of abiotic conditions - Altering those conditions can have severe consequences and can cause extinction • Range of tolerance — organisms can live within a range of conditions, but they thrive in the optimum range • Organisms require many different abiotic facts to survive • One factor — limiting factor — tends to be critical to survival and growth of population • Altering concentrations of limiting factors can result in dramatic fluctuations in populations • Organisms are the biotic components of ecosystems; they form and interdependent community • Competitions occur between species occupying the same habitat if their niches overlap 2 Tuesday, February 16, 2016 • Although competition in a naturally occurring process, natural systems have evolved to minimize it • Humans are a major competitive force of nature. Our advanced technologies and massive population size permits us to out-compete many species. • Destroying other species through competition can be disadvantageous in the long run • Ecosystem Functions - Photosynthetic organisms such as plants and algae produce food within ecosystem - They transform solar energy for other organisms to use - This energy is stores in glucose via photosynthesis which produces 02 - This energy is unlocked by respiration with consumes glucose - Community • - Population • - Individual • Critical zone science - Earth’s permeable near surface layer from tops of trees to the bottom of actively cycling groundwater • Where rocks, soil, water, air, and living things interact and shape the Earth’s surface • Critical to sustaining the earth’s sustaining services - Clean Water - Productive soil - Balanced atmosphere - Minutes <—> decades <—> millennia <—> eons 3 Tuesday, February 16, 2016 - Atmosphere <—> biosphere <—> hydrosphere <—> lithosphere Food Chains - Food and energy flow through food chains that are part of much larger food webs in ecosystems - All organisms are members of one or more food chains - Grazer food chain: begins with plants and algae, consumed by herbivores (grazers) - Decomposer food chain: begins with dead material which is eaten by detritus feeders, which are consumed by bacteria and fungi or the dead waste is consume Flow of energy and nutrients through food webs - Food chains are biological avenues for the flow of energy and the cycling of nutrients in the environment - Energy flows in one direction through food chains but nutrients are recycled Trophic Levels - The position of an organism in a food chain is called its trophic level • Producers are on the 1st level — largest biomass ‣ not all is consumed and energy is lost • Herbivores are on the 2nd level • Carnivores are on the 3rd level — smallest biomass - The length of a food chain is limited by the loss of energy from one trophic level to another The largest number of organisms is generally supported by the base of the food - chain, the producers (plants) - Organic molecules pass from plants to animals where they are broken down which releases stored solar energy used to power cellular activity - Energy is eventually released as heat and escapes into atmosphere and space - Nutrients are recycled NOT energy - The shorter the food chain — the more food that is available at the top level 4 Tuesday, February 16, 2016 Nutrient Cycles - Nutrients flow from environment through food webs and then released into the environment = nutrient cycle or biogeochemical cycle • Organismic phase: nutrient is found in the living organism (biota • Environmental phase: nutrient exists in the environment - Examples: • Carbon cycle ‣ The basis of food and energy production in the living world • Nitrogen Cycle ‣ Essential to amino acids and DNA 78% of the atmosphere ‣ Needs to be fixated before use by animals — bacteria do this ‣ ‣ Decomposition returns NH3 to environment ‣ Humans change N2 cycle - Applying excess nitrogen fertilizer - Disposing of nitrogen rich sewage - Raising cattle in feedlots adjacent to waterways - Burning fossil fuels, which releases nitrogen oxides • Phosphorous cycle ‣ Needed in DNA ‣ Used in fertilizer ‣ Not very soluble Limiting nutrient in water ‣ - Too much leads to algae blooms 5 Tuesday, February 16, 2016 Weather and Climate Control - Weather: daily condition — rain, temp - Climate: average weather over a long period of time ( ~30 years) • - Major factors determining weather and climate • Amount of light and heat Polar ‣ ‣ Temperate ‣ Tropical - The unequal heating of the earth creates air and water currents: Coriolis effect • Warm air rises towards poles, cold air toward equator • It losses some heat and create smaller cells • The spin of the earth creates winds - Topography - Ocean currents 6


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