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Vocabulary & Key Concepts Ecosystem Ecology, Biogeochemical Cycles & Energy Flow 1. Biosphere - all of the ecosystems combined from the deepest ocean bottom to the highest mountain peak. Basically, all of the living parts of the world 2. Producer - the fellas that can use the energy of the sun to produce usable forms of energy. Also known as autotrophs. 3. Photosynthesis - how producers make their food. They use solar energy to rearrange carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) and water (H 2 O) into super awesome glucose (C 6 H 12 O 6 ) and waste product O 2 6H 2 O + 6CO 2 + ENERGY C 6 H 12 O 6 + 6O 2 4. Cellular respiration - when producers AND consumers take glucose and smash into little itsy bitsy pieces to release the awesome energy stored in there by producers, which they store into ATP (“batteries”) that power all of the cool things that the cell has to do to make us be alive and stuff “Smash into little itsy bitsy pieces” = C 6 H 12 O 6 + 6O 2 6H 2 O + 6CO 2 + ENERGY 5. Aerobic respiration - when cellular respiration happens in the presence of oxygen 6. Anaerobic respiration - when cellular respiration happens in the absence of oxygen. It results in less ATP being made, but it will work in a pinch. Our muscles do it when we work out too much, yeast do it (this is why we use it to make bread! The CO 2 bubbles makes it all fluffy) 7. Consumer - the ones that rely on autotrophs for energy since they can’t do the photosynthesis (which should be obvious, since going to the beach just gives you a sunburn and makes you hungrier). Also known as a heterotroph 8. Herbivore - a consumer that only eats producers. Also known as a primary consumer. 9. Carnivore - consumers that eats herbivores/primary consumers. Also known as secondary consumers. 10. Tertiary consumer - a carnivore that eats secondary consumers. 11. Trophic levels - the successive levels of organisms consuming one another. 12. Food chain - the sequence of consumption from producers to tertiary consumers. The arrows go in the direction of the energy. Grass grasshopper frog snake 13. Food web - a bunch of food chains put together, since it’s unrealistic that an organism eats only one type of organism. A great visual for how complicated ecosystems can be, since changing just one thing can actually upset a lot. 14. Scavenger - an organism that eats dead animals. Yeah, gross, but the alternative is much worse! Think vultures.

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Vocabulary & Key Concepts

Ecosystem Ecology, Biogeochemical Cycles & Energy Flow

1. Biosphere - all of the ecosystems combined from the deepest ocean bottom to the highest mountain

peak. Basically, all of the living parts of the world

2. Producer - the fellas that can use the energy of the sun to produce usable forms of energy. Also known

as autotrophs.

3. Photosynthesis - how producers make their food. They use solar energy to rearrange carbon dioxide

(CO2) and water (H

2O) into super awesome glucose (C6H

12O6) and waste product O

2

6H2O + 6CO

2 + ENERGY → C6H

12O6 + 6O

2

4. Cellular respiration - when producers AND consumers take glucose and smash into little itsy bitsy

pieces to release the awesome energy stored in there by producers, which they store into ATP

(“batteries”) that power all of the cool things that the cell has to do to make us be alive and stuff

“Smash into little itsy bitsy pieces” = C6H

12O6 + 6O

2 → 6H2O + 6CO

2 + ENERGY

5. Aerobic respiration - when cellular respiration happens in the presence of oxygen

6. Anaerobic respiration - when cellular respiration happens in the absence of oxygen. It results in less

ATP being made, but it will work in a pinch. Our muscles do it when we work out too much, yeast do it

(this is why we use it to make bread! The CO2 bubbles makes it all fluffy)

7. Consumer - the ones that rely on autotrophs for energy since they can’t do the photosynthesis (which

should be obvious, since going to the beach just gives you a sunburn and makes you hungrier). Also

known as a heterotroph

8. Herbivore - a consumer that only eats producers. Also known as a primary consumer.

9. Carnivore - consumers that eats herbivores/primary consumers. Also known as secondary

consumers.

10. Tertiary consumer - a carnivore that eats secondary consumers.

11. Trophic levels - the successive levels of organisms consuming one another.

12. Food chain - the sequence of consumption from producers to tertiary consumers. The arrows go in

the direction of the energy. Grass → grasshopper → frog → snake

13. Food web - a bunch of food chains put together, since it’s unrealistic that an organism eats only one

type of organism. A great visual for how complicated ecosystems can be, since changing just one thing

can actually upset a lot.

14. Scavenger - an organism that eats dead animals. Yeah, gross, but the alternative is much worse!

Think vultures.

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15. Detritivore - an organism whose speciality is breaking down dead tissues and waste products into

smaller particles. Like dung beetles!

16. Decomposers - fungi and bacteria that convert organic matter into small elements and molecules that

can be recycled back into the ecosystem

17. Gross primary productivity (GPP) - the total amount of solar energy that producers in an

ecosystem capture via photosynthesis over a given amount of time (all of the glucose and the glucose

derived products)

18. Net Primary Productivity (NPP) - the energy captured by producers in an ecosystem minus the

energy producers respire. (since they’re going to take some of the glucose they made and use it for their

own life things)

Basically, the GPP is like the total amount an employer pays you, and NPP is the

amount leftover after taxes. NPP is useful to know because it’ll tell you how much

energy is available for that ecosystem and all of the consumers. If there is a high

NPP, we’d say it’s very productive and can support a lot of life. If it has a low

NPP, it’s not very productive and can’t support a lot of life.

It’s also important to note that GPP and NPP are measured as a rate (grams of

Carbon PER square meter PER year → gC/m2/year )

19. Biomass - the total mass of all living matter in a specific area. The NPP determines how fast biomass

can be made in an area.

20. Standing crop - the amount of biomass present at a particular time.

(wait what? Let’s put this together. A slow-growing forest has a low productivity, thereby

adds only a little biomass every year. But the standing crop of the whole forest is HUGE! There is A

LOT of mass present if you could put it on a triple beam balance. I wouldn’t. It would break.

But in an ocean, there is a lot of algae that grow really fast so they’re really productive! This

means they make a lot of biomass every year.But they’re also very tasty to sea creatures and gets

eaten right away, so the standing crop of algae is very small. You probably could measure it on a

triple beam, but I still wouldn't since that’s gross.

21. Ecological efficiency - proportion of consumed energy that can be passed onto the next trophic level.

They range from 5-20%, but averages 10% so that’s the number you’ll see everywhere. What this

essentially means is that when a snake eats a mouse, 10% of the mouse molecules actually end up going

into building a snake. When a hawk eats a snake, only 10% of the snake molecules end up going into

building a hawk.

22. Trophic pyramid - a pretty visual that shows the distribution of biomass, numbers, or energy among

trophic levels

23. Biogeochemical cycle - movement of matter within and between ecosystems

24. Hydrologic cycle - movement of water through evaporation, precipitation, infiltration (water that

percolates through the soil), surface runoff (from precipitation falling on the land’s surface), and plant

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uptake

25. Transpiration - release of water from leaves during photosynthesis

26. Evapotranspiration - the combined amount of transpiration and evaporation

27. Runoff - water that moves across the land surfaces and into streams and rivers

28. Carbon cycle - movement of carbon through atmosphere-water exchange, photosynthesis, respiration,

combustion, extraction, sedimentation, and burial

29. Limiting nutrient - nutrient essential for the growth of an organism that’s available in a lower

quantity than other nutrients

30. Macronutrient - one of six key elements that organisms need a lot of → nitrogen, phosphorus,

potassium, calcium, magnesium, and sulfur

31. Nitrogen cycle - movement of nitrogen through nitrogen fixation, mineralization, nitrification,

denitrification, assimilation, and leaching. Possibly the most confusing so obviously AP’s favorite!

32. Nitrogen fixation - a process by which some organisms can convert nitrogen gas molecules directly

into ammonia. Why is this a big deal? We’re surrounded by atmospheric N2 and we need nitrogen but

the strong triple bond in N2 is impossible for us to break to be able to use the nitrogen. But nitrogen

fixing bacteria found in soil and in the root nodules of some plants can do it, and take N2 and turn it

into NH3 and that’s much easier to use.

33. Nitrification - the conversion of ammonium (NH4) into nitrite (NO2) and then into nitrate NO3.

Special bacteria do this. This is important because NO3 is the favorite form of nitrogen and is used

readily by producers

34. Assimilation - process by which producers incorporate elements into their tissues. This is a big deal

because it can then be used to make proteins and DNA which you need for life. Consumers then get the

nitrogen stored in plant tissue by eating them.

35. Mineralization - the process by which fungal and bacterial decomposers break down the organic

matter found in dead bodies and waste products and convert it into inorganic compounds. These guys

are important so it can begin its journey back into the atmosphere and start the cycle all over again.

Sometimes it’s called ammonification because they usually make ammonia.

36. Denitrification - final step where nitrate is converted to nitrous oxide N2O and eventually N2 which

is then emitted back into the atmosphere.

37. Leaching - transportation of dissolved molecules through the soil via groundwater. When we use

fertilizers, the nitrates in there get LEACHED.

38. Phosphorus cycle - movement of phosphorus through the biosphere via geological uplift, phosphate

mining, weathering of rocks, assimilation/decomposition, and leaching of fertilizers and detergents.

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This is the only cycle that doesn’t have a component in the atmosphere, which is why it “turns” so slowly

39. Algal bloom - a rapid increase in the algal population of a waterway. This happens as a result of the

leaching of excess phosphates (from inorganic fertilizers and household detergents) and nitrates

(inorganic fertilizers).

Initially, yes, it’s disgusting, but that’s not the worst part! It first leads to decreased light availability

for aquatic plants...sad. But the worst part is actually when they die. As they die, they are

decomposed by aerobic bacteria. Aerobic should always ring a bell in your head that says OXYGEN!

Bacteria use oxygen to break down the algae, and the only place that oxygen can come from is the

dissolved oxygen in the water. Which SUCKS for everything else in there that need oxygen, who find

they can’t get enough and “suffocate”

40. Hypoxic - low in oxygen. This is what we call the water that’s had all of the oxygen sucked out of it by

aerobic bacteria digesting the dead algae. They’re sometimes referred to in common talk as “dead

zones” since creatures that need oxygen (shellfish, fish, other aquatic animals…) die die die [but if

you’re an anaerobic bacteria that don’t need no oxygen life is good for you my friend...too bad you’re

useless to the fishing industry]

41. Sulfur cycle - the movement of sulfur through the biosphere by sedimentation, extraction,

combustion, acid precipitation, runoff, weathering, assimilation/decomposition

,

42. Disturbance - not in the Force, but in the population or community composition because of an event, be it physical, chemical, or biological. It could also be anthropogenic, like human settlements,

agriculture, air pollution, forest clear-cutting, and mountaintop removal for coal mining

43. Resistance - so many Star Wars references… but actually it’s a measure of how that disturbance can

affect flows of energy and matter in an ecosystem.

44. Resilience - the RATE at which an ecosystem returns to its original state after a disturbance

45. Watershed - all land in a given landscape that drains into a particular stream, river, lake, or wetland

(what that means is, if you pour out a bucket of water onto a grassy area of Lincoln because why

not...eventually that water is going to drain into Lake Lafayette. But if you did the same thing at Godby,

it would drain to Lake Munson)

http://blogs.tallahassee.com/community/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/watershed-map.jpg

46. Restoration ecology - the study and implementation of making damaged ecosystems all better again

47. Intermediate disturbance hypothesis - the hypothesis that ecosystems experiencing intermediate

levels of disturbance are more diverse that those with high or low levels of disturbance. At high levels of

disturbance, population growth rates usually can’t keep up, but when it’s too low, competition is high

and you’ll see the best of the best dominating. Remember, natural disturbances aren’t always bad.

Biomes

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1. Terrestrial biome - a geographic region categorized by a particular combination of average annual

temperature, annual precipitation, and distinctive plant growth forms on land.

2. Aquatic biome - an aquatic region characterized by a particular combination of salinity, depth, and

water flow

3. Tundra - a cold and treeless biome with low-growing vegetation. Think Canada, Alaska, Northern

Russia, and Antarctica

4. Permafrost - an impermeable, permanently frozen layer of soil (or at least we want it to stay

frozen…more on this in the climate change unit!)

5. Boreal forest - a forest biome made up of coniferous evergreen trees that can tolerate cold winters

and short growing seasons (Southern Canada, Southern Russia, and parts of Europe)

6. Temperate rainforest - coastal biome typified by moderate temperatures and high precipitation

(Northern Cali to Alaska [redwoods], Southern Chile, east coast of Australia and west coast of New

Zealand)

7. Temperate seasonal forest - warm summers, cold winters, dominated by broadleaf deciduous trees

like beech, maple, oak, hickory, with some coniferous trees too. I found Florida! As well as the

Southeast US and a lot of Europe.

8. Woodland/shrubland - hot, dry summers...mild, rainy winters. Southern Cali (chapparal), Southern

South America, SW Australia, Mediterranean Sea. Drought-resistant shrubs, like yucca, scrub oak, and

sagebrush. Hot and dry = a lot of wildfires, and all of the rain = nutrient poor soil due to leaching

9. Tropical rainforest - warm and wet biome between 20 N and 20 S of the equator, with high

temperatures and high precipitation all year. There is high productivity and high decomposition, and

the most biodiversity of all of the terrestrial biomes.

10. Tropical seasonal forest/savanna - a biome marked by warm temperatures and distinct wet/dry

seasons. Subsaharan Africa is an example… typically you’ll find dense stands of trees and shrubs

surrounded by grasses and scattered deciduous trees

11. Subtropical desert - a biome at 30 N and 30 S with hot temperatures, dry conditions, and sparse

vegetation. Mojave Desert, Sahara Desert, Arabian Desert. Cacti and other succulent plants dominate.

12. Freshwater wetland - an aquatic biome that is submerged or saturated by water for at least part of

the year, but shallow enough to support emergent vegetation (plants that grow out of the water).

Swamps and bogs.

They’re super important to the ecosystem, since they take in large amounts of rainwater and release it

slowly into groundwater and other nearby streams (reducing flood and drought severity)... and

they’re a natural filter for water, removing pollutants so the groundwater can be recharged with

clean water. As much as a third of all endangered bird species live in the wetlands, even though it's

only 5% of the country. But people (!!) have drained over halfs of the wetlands for agriculture,

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development, or eliminate mosquito breeding grounds

13. Salt marsh - marsh containing nonwoody emergent vegetation found mostly by estuaries (where the

fresh river water mixes with salty ocean water). With all of the nutrient rich organic material coming

from the ocean, they’re very productive for plants and algae, which in turn filter contaminants.

Important habitat for spawning fish and shellfish.

14. Mangrove swamp - swamp along tropical and subtropical coasts, with salt-tolerant trees whose roots

are submerged in water. These trees protect coastlines from erosion and storm damage, and their

leaves provide nutrients when they fall in the water.

15. Intertidal zone - the narrow band of coastline between the levels of high tide and low tide

16. Coral reef - the most diverse marine biome on Earth, found in warm, shallow waters beyond the

shoreline. Currently in danger from coral bleaching, since the algae inside die due to disease and

warmer, more acidic oceans, and the coral turns white. Unless the algae come back, the coral will die

too.

17. Open ocean - deep ocean water, far from the shorelines, where sunlight cannot reach. Scary.

Evolution & Species Distribution

1. Phylogeny - branching pattern of evolutionary relationships

2. Evolution - a change in the genetic composition of a population over time

3. Microevolution - evolution below the species level, such as the evolution of different varieties of

apples or potatoes

4. Macroevolution - evolution that gives rise to new species, genera, families, class, or phyla.

5. Gene - a physical location on the chromosomes within each cell of an organism

6. Genotype - complete set of genes in an individual

7. Phenotype - a set of traits (anatomy, physiology, behavior) expressed by an individual

8. Mutation - a random change in the genetic code produced by mistake in the copying process. A

random process that is not based in difference in fitness.

9. Recombination - the genetic process by which one chromosome breaks off and attaches to another

during reproductive cell division. It is through mutations and recombinations that genetic diversity is

created, and selective pressures determine the frequency of these genes.

10. Evolution by artificial selection - the process by which humans determine which individuals breed,

typically with a preconceived set of traits in mind. How a wolf gave rise to all dogs, from the St. Bernard

to the chihuahua

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11. Evolution by natural selection - the process in which the environment determines which

individuals survive and reproduce.

12. Fitness - not how much an organism works out, but rather a measure of their ability to survive and

reproduce

13. Adaptation - a trait that improves an individual’s fitness

14. Gene flow - the process by which individuals move from one population to another and thereby alter

the genetic composition of both populations

15. Genetic drift - change in the genetic composition of a population over time as a result of random

mating. A random process that is not based in difference in fitness.

16. Bottleneck effect - a reduction in the genetic diversity of a population caused by a reduction in its

size. Could be from habitat loss, a natural disaster, harvesting by humans, or changes in the

environment. A random process that is not based in difference in fitness.

17. Founder effect - a change in the genetic composition of a population as a result of descending from a

small number of colonizing species. A random process that is not based in difference in fitness.

18. Geographic isolation - physical separation of individuals from others of the same species

19. Allopatric isolation - the process of speciation that occurs with geographic isolation

20. Reproductive isolation - the result of two populations within a species evolving separately to the

point that they can no longer interbreed and produce viable offspring

21. Sympatric speciation - the evolution of one species into two, without geographic isolation

22. Range of tolerance - the limits to the abiotic conditions that a species can tolerate.

23. Fundamental niche - the suite of abiotic conditions under which a species CAN survive, grow, and

reproduce

24. Realized niche - the range of abiotic and biotic under which a species actually lives

(so basically, your fundamental niche is all of the jobs you could possibly have with your set of skills

and qualifications, but the realized niche is the job you actually get)

25. Distribution - areas of the world in which a species lives

26. Niche generalist - a species that can live under a wide range of abiotic or biotic conditions. Like a

raccoon.

27. Niche specialist - a species that is specialized to live in a specific habitat or to feed on a small group of

species. Like a Florida panther.

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Community Ecology

1. Community ecology - the study of the interactions among species

2. Symbiotic relationship - the relationship between two species that live in close association with each

other, whether it’s nice or mean

3. Competition - struggle between individuals to obtain a shared limiting resource

4. Competitive exclusion principle - the sad fact that two species competing for the same limiting

resource cannot coexist. Someone is going to get the food, and someone gonna die. Life is hard.

5. Resource partitioning - when two species divide a resource based on differences in their behavior or

morphology. Basically a fancy word for sharing. Some examples include birds that feed at different

levels of the tree, maybe 1 species feeds at day while the other feeds at night…

6. Predation - an interaction in which one animal typically kills and consumes another animal.

7. Parasitoid - A type of predator that lays eggs inside other organisms (their “host”). Ewww.

8. Parasitism - an interaction where one organism lives in or on another organism. Examples - dog,

fleas: flea gets food, but dog is miserable

9. Pathogen - a parasite that causes disease in its host

10. Herbivory - eats producers. omnomnom.

11. Mutualism - an interaction between two species that increases the chance of survival or reproduction

for both species. Examples - bee, flower: the bee gets to eat, the flower has its pollen spread; humans,

gut bacteria: human has their food digested completely, bacteria gets food

12. Commensalism - a relationship between two species in which one benefits and the other is “meh”

(scientific term for neither helped nor harmed). This tends to be the most difficult to provide strong

evidence for, since are you absolutely SURE the meh organism isn’t benefiting? Examples - trees, birds: the bird has a cool perch, the tree is whatever about it.

13. Keystone species - a species that plays an extremely important role in the ecosystem even if there

aren’t a lot of them. It gets its name from the keystone brick in an arch… if you take it out, the arch

falls, and similarly, the ecosystem fails without the organism. Examples include beavers, sea stars

14. Ecosystem engineer - a keystone species that creates or maintains habitat for other species.

Examples: beavers (build dams that collect water) and alligators (dig holes)

15. Ecological succession - predictable replacement of one group of species by another group of species

over time

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16. Primary succession - ecological succession occurring on surfaces where THERE IS NO SOIL

PRESENT (like after a glacial retreat, newly cooled lava after an eruption, or an abandoned parking lot)

17. Secondary succession - succession of plant life that occurs in areas that have been disturbed BUT

THERE IS STILL SOIL PRESENT (like after a wildfire)

18. Pioneer species - the first organisms to come to an area in horse-drawn covered wagons and make

little settlements, like lichen and moss

19. Theory of island biogeography - there is a relationship between the number & types of different

species on an island and the size of the habitat, as well as distance between the island and mainland. Larger islands tend to support more life, and the smaller distances between island & mainland supports

higher rates of immigration

Diagrams

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