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the study of the interactions of organisms with their environments

environmental interactions

organism, population, community, ecosystem

components of ecosystems

energy flow and chemical cycling

energy flow

passage of energy through the ecosystem

chemical cycling

transfer of materials within the ecocsystem


all the organisms in the community as well as the abiotic environment

trophic structure

a pattern of feeding relationships

food chain

sequence of food (energy) transfer up the trophic levels


support all trophic levels, autotrophs (plants, algae and phytoplankton)



trophic levels

producers, consumers, detritivores,


decomposers, derive energy from dead matter and wastes


eat food (can't make it themselves); primary, secondary, tertiary, quaternary


produce own food (by photosynthesis)

primary consumers

grasshoppers, zooplankton

secondary consumers

mouse, herring

tertiary consumers

snake, tuna

quaternary consumers

hawk, killer whale

food web

a network of interconnecting food chains

primary production

the amount of solar energy converted to chemical energy; carried out by producers; produce biomass; "energy budget"


amount of living organic material in an ecosystem

10% rule

only 10% of the energy present in a trophic level makes it to the next level

nitrogen fixation

converts N2 to nitrogen used by plants; carried out by bacteria


terrestrial, marine, freshwater


a vast treeless plain in the arctic regions between the ice cap and the tree line


land where grass or grasslike vegetation grows and is the dominant form of plant life


the wide part of a river where it nears the sea


a group of organisms of one species that interbreed and live in the same place at the same time

biotic potential

maximum rate at which a population can increase in under ideal conditions

What 5 factors affect biotic potential?

lifespan, age at first reproduction, frequency of reproduction, clutch size, length of reproduction capability

carrying capacity

largest number of individuals of a particular species that can survive over long periods of time in a given environment


change in the (plant) species composition of a community over time


a temporary change in average environmental conditions that causes a pronounced change in an ecosystem, usually resulting in the removal of large amounts of biomass.


A directional growth movement, made by a part of a stationary plant, in response to an environmental stimulus.

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