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Introduction to Environmental Science Notes

by: Samantha Estis

Introduction to Environmental Science Notes EVR 1001

Marketplace > Florida State University > Natural science > EVR 1001 > Introduction to Environmental Science Notes
Samantha Estis

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About this Document

Lecture Notes, typed, from September 29, 2016
Introduction to Environmental Science
Dr. Rob Spencer
Class Notes
ecosystems, ecological, communities, food, web, trophic levels, Energy, Biological, production, competition, succession
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This 6 page Class Notes was uploaded by Samantha Estis on Monday October 3, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to EVR 1001 at Florida State University taught by Dr. Rob Spencer in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 6 views. For similar materials see Introduction to Environmental Science in Natural science at Florida State University.


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Date Created: 10/03/16
Environ Science lecture 9/29/16  Sustaining life on earth requires more than individuals, species, or populations  Ecosystem – biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment o Interactions of many organisms functioning together  Ecosystems have fundamental characteristics o Structures  Comprised of living and non-living par o Processes  Cycling elements  Flow of energy  Ecosystem chemical cycling o For complete recycling of chemical elements, several species must interact  Photosynthetic organisms produce sugar from carbon dioxide and water  From sugar and inorganic compounds, they make other organic compounds (protein, woody tissue, etc.)  Need decomposers to return material to inorganic compounds  At its simplist, each community will have o At least one species that is producer o At least one species that is a decomposer o Plus a fluid medium (air, water, or both)  Ecological community definitions o A set of interacting species found in the same place and functioning together to maintain life  In practice, it is difficult to identify the interacting species (and it is likely that they are all interacting o All the species found in area, whether or not they interact  Species: group of living organisms consisting of similar individuals capable of exchanging genes or interbreeding  Population: group of organisms of one species that interbreed and live in the same place at the same time Ecological communities and food webs  Trophic level: number of feeding levels away from original source of energy  First trophic level o Primary producers o Use energy from sun and carbon dioxide from air to photosynthesize o Green plats, algae, other bacteria  Second trophic level o Primary consumer o Herbivores o Organisms that feed on autotrophs  Third trophic level o Feed directly on herbivores o Carnivores o Secondary consumers  Fourth tropic levels o Feed on carnivores o Tertiary consumers  Decomposers o Feed on waste and dead organisms of all trophic levels o Trophic level may vary based on the structure of ecosystems o Include scavengers, fungi, microorganisms, termites, etc.  Organisms at each trophic level transform a fraction of what they eat into biomass o This biomass is then available to higher trophic levels o The % of energy that is converted to biomass (and made available to higher trophic levels) is known as its gross growth efficiency or trophic level efficiency  Typically, about 10% for land animals  Higher for many small marine organisms  The inefficiency of organisms leads to energy loss at each trophic level  Thus less energy is available to each successive trophic level  This puts a limit on the number of organisms that an ecosystem can support at any given trophic level  That limit depends on total production  All life requires energy – the ability to do work Ecosystem energy flow o Movement of energy through an ecosystem from external environment through a series of organisms and back to the external environment  Energy must be continually added to an ecological system in a usable form o because it is inevitably degraded into heat o Net flow of energy is a one-way flow  Second law of thermodynamics o No use of energy is ever 100% efficient o energy is lost as heat Biological production  Biomass o total amount of organic matter on Earth or in any ecosystem or area o measured as amount per unit surface area  Primary production o autotrophs conduct photosynthesis o make their own organic matter from an energy source and inorganic compounds  respiration o use of energy from organic matter by most heterotroph and autotrophic organisms  opposite of photosynthesis  organic matter Ecological interactions: competition  Competition o Interactions among organisms who compete for limited, shared resources o Intraspecific competition  Members of the same species pursue shared resources o Interspecific competition  Organisms from diff species also compete for shared resources  Interspecific competition o If you remove a competitor the remaining species will have greater access to resources  Light  Nutrients  Prey o Remaining species o Competitive exclusion principle  Two species that differently compete for essential resources cannot coexist  One species will eventually displace the other o Competitors coexist?  Fundamental (or theoretical) niche – the complete range of environmental conditions (temp, food, water) over which the species might possibly exist  Realized niche – range of conditions over which a species actually occurs o Niche differentiation  Potential competitors are able to coexist because they divide up the fundamental niche o Exploitation competition: competition for a shared resource  One species of desert plant taking up all the water  One pride of loins eating all the zebras  One undergrad consuming everything in the cafeteria o Successful competitors are able to take up or utilize resources more efficiently o Interference competition: aggressive actions deigne to drive off a competitor  Scavengers fighting over remains of animal  Plants release chemicals that inhibit other plants o Herbivores use several different feeding strategies  Some of these feeding strategies are beneficial to plants  Fructivores: feed on fruits  Gramnivores: feed on seeds  Many insects feed on pollen and nectar o Herbivores use seeral different feeding strategies  Grazers: feed directly on the leaves and young stems of plants  Feeding challenges associated with chemical nature of food  Leaves and stems are formed of cellulose (glucose polymer) that is resistant to breakdown  Many grazers keep specialized microbes in their guts o Coevolution: organisms can evolve in combination  Plants evolve defenses against herbivores  Thorns, irritating hairs, distasteful or toxic chemicals  Natural selection favors herbivores with adaptations that allow them to thwart these defenses, or even take advantage of them  Milkweed produces chemicals (alkaloids) that are toxic to most animals  Caterpillars (of monarch butterflies) are resistant to those chemicals and even store them in their own bodies to protect against predation  Coevolution can also lead to species benefiting each other  Insects and flowering plants o Predation  Capture, kill, and consume other animals  Two basic feeding strategies  Filter feeding – webs or net-like structures used to filter a predator’s environment (spider webs, blue whales, krill)  Hunting – stalk and capture their prey  Coevolution significantly affects the evolution of predators and prey  Predator-prey population cycles  When distinct two species predator-prey relationships exist they will often undergo cycles of high and low abundance  High prey abundance leads to growth of the predator  High predator abundance leads to decrease in the prey  Low prey abundance leads to decrease of the predator o Parasites  Live and feed in or on other organisms (hosts)  Usually do not kill host  But do harm it and may lead to its death  Virus, tick, tape worm o Vectors – organisms that carry parasites but not affected by them  Some parasites have complex life cycles that involve many hosts and vectors o Factors affecting spread of parasites  Abundance of hosts  Bubonic plague linked to growth of cites  Accessibility of parasites to locate viable hosts can depend on species on species diversity o Transmission rates of parasites  Compare common cold to HIV o Length of life of an infected host  Highly virulent parasites that quickly immobilize or kill their hosts limit the opportunities for the parasites to reproduce and spread (Ebola) o Habitat expansion  When climatic or other environmental conditions change, parasites can move into a new area o Symbioses – intimate interdependencies between species  Parasitism  Mutualism o Mutualism – both organisms benefit  Flowering plants and pollinators o Commensalism – one species benefits, the other is unaffected  Hermit crab lives in shells of marine snails (but only after they die) o Ecosystems are dynamic – always changing o Primary succession  Establishment and development of an ecosystem where one didn’t previously exist o Ecosystems are dynamic – always changing  Secondary succession o Reestablishment of an ecosystem following disturbance o Remnants of previous biological community (soil, seeds, organic material, etc.) o When succession occurs it follows certain general patterns  Dune succession o Early succession plant characteristics  Small size  Grow well in bright light  Withstand harshness of environment


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