Advertisement Upgrade to remove ads

Mainly chapters 9-12, but study the other chapters too.

The organisms that cause red tides

blooms of phytoplankton, microscopic algae, dinoflagellates, or harmful algal blooms (HABs)


Community of plants and animals that interact with one another, together with the physical conditions and chemical constituents in a specific geographical area.


A fundamental subdivision of the Earth system. (include biotic-living and abiotic-nonliving components plus energy sources)

Producers or autotrophs (self-nourishing)

Photosynthesizing organisms, on land they are primarily green plants

How producers obtain energy

They harvest light or chemical energy from the abiotic environment

Primary producers in the ocean

seaweeds, sea grasses in shallow waters, algae, and some bacteria, they are in the Protista Kingdom


Plant and animal life found floating or drifting in the ocean and used as food by nearly all marine animals, it literally means "wanderer"

Consumers include

zooplankton: includes bacteria, filter feeders (jellyfish), copepods, euphausiids (shrimp-like crustaceans, krill


organisms that feed on autotrophs, (other feeders)


They are producers; they are floating, microscopic unicellular algae, photosynthetic bacteria, and other groups of organisms capable of photosynthesis are responsible for more that 99% of biological production in the photic zone.

Movement of phytoplankton

some of these organisms like dinoflgaellates have flagella (thread-like structures)

Depth of the photic zone

0-200 + meters


they have properties of both plants and animals; they are made of silica and contain photosynthetic pigments and contribute significantly to primary production. They are in the Kingdom Protista!


they are covered with tiny calcium carbonate plates; in the kingdom Protista, and they are weird because they thrive in nutrient-poor waters


these are major contributors to matrine calcareous sediment deposits (White Cliffs of Dover on the SE coast of England)


they have two flagella and no solid covering so that they are not preserved in marine sediment deposits like other producers)


The most abundant photosynthetic organism in the ocean


Some marine organisms harvest energy from chemical reactions (a method of primary production, instead of using light energy)


Animal plankton- which includes bacteria, filter feeders (jellyfish), copepods, euphausiids (shrimp-like crustaceans, krill)

how do zooplankton get energy?

by eating phytoplankton

how do zooplankton move?

they drift passively with ocean currents or are weak swimmers

filter feeding

zooplankton have tiny hairs, cilia, mucus-covered surfaces which capture particles suspended in water

What do herbivores eat?

chief consumers of phytoplankton

What do carnivores eat?

chief consumer of herbivores (all the zooplankton, and then bigger stuff in the ocean)

What do omnivores eat?

They eat both phytoplankton and zooplankton (plants and animals) Some copepods include both herbivores and carnivores

Decomposers (detritivores)

They are consumers that feed on dead organic matter, either on the ocean bottom or in the water column. (Some are bacteria in size and some are worms and complex)

Food chain

It is a linear path of feeding relationships among organisms (e.g., producers, consumers) along which energy and materials move within an ecosystem

Food web

Complex linked food chains

Tropic level

Each feeding position occupied by an organism within a food web

Organisms in Trophic Level 1

Producers: phytoplankton, bacteria

Organisms in Trophic Level 2

Consumers that feed on the phytoplankton

Ecological efficiency

the fraction of the total energy available at one trophic level that is transformed into work ors omeother usable form of energy at the next high topic level (10% is passed onto the predator, the 90% is for that organism to live, etc)

How many grams of primary producers are needed to support 1000 grams of herbivores?

10,000 (apply the 10% rule of ecological efficiency)

cellular respiration

The process of energy liberation, it occurs in all living cells (it is inefficient)

How cellular respiration affects ecological efficiency

Energy losses occur when assimilated food enters the organism's cells and is processed to liberate energy for growth, maintenance and reproduction


It is a consequence of the ecological inefficiencies that prevail between trophic levels-the biomass declines, but toxins remain

Primary Production

Based on total food and energy supply available for the rest of the ecosystem

Why is there low primary production in the tropical subtropical oceans?

Because of the desert-like condition is lack of nutrients (in tropics-intense solar radiation)

Why primary productivity varies in temperate regions

Because of the weather; e.g. in the winter, sunlight is weak, but in the spring conditions are favorable

What is Spring Bloom?

Abundant nutrients, more sunlight and stable water column are favorable conditions for phytoplankton populations

Primary productivity in Polar Regions

Sunlight limits production, but nutrients are still abundant, e.g. Bering Sea brings nutrients, during summer at the caps, the ice melts and production begins

Where do pelagic organisms live?

Water columns (in the open ocean, not including the ocean floor)

Define epipelagic in terms of depth

0-200 meters

Define mesopelagic in terms of depth

200-1000 meters

Define bathypelagic in terms of depth

1000-4000 meters

Define abyssopelagic in terms of depth

4000 meters and deeper

Where do Bethnic organisms live?

on the ocean floor or within sediment deposits

Divisions of the benthic environment include

-intertidal -neritic -benthic -abyssal

Define intertidal in terms of depths and tides

the area along the shore between high-and low-tide lines (rocky shores and sandy beaches)

Define neritic in terms of depths and tides

the area seaward from the shore (it includes the intertidal zone), across the continental shelf to a water depth of 120-200 m

Define benthic in terms of depths and tides

the environment of the sea floor at all depths: include attached, burrowing, and mobile organisms

What is an adaptation?

A genetically controlled trait or characteristic that enhances an organism's chances for survival and reproduction in its environment.

In what ways do gas or fat filled body cavities help an organism survive?

this adaptation allows animals to live at extreme depths, under great pressure

How does body shape allow for life in different water densities?

If an organism is buoyant, they can maintain their position and move slowly in the ocean

In what ways does countershading help an organism survive?

animals can make it difficult for predators above to see them against the dark, deep water if their dorsal side s a dark color

In what ways does adaptive coloration help an organism survive?

animals can blend in with their surroundings thereby avoiding detection

In what ways does bioluminescence help an organism survive?

many animals emit light (product of chemical reaction) to attract prey or to disguise themselves

In what ways does vertical migration help an organism survive?

animals do this to stay alive; at dusk they come to the surface to feed on phytoplankton, and at daytime they return to deep waters

In what ways does a Symbiotic Relationships help an organism survive?

two different species living and working together so each can benefit, nemo & anemone

In what ways does a streamlined body shape help an organism survive?

animals with this adaptation can move faster in the water or fit into tiny cracks to hide

How do baleen plates aid in obtaining food?

the food is trapped in the mouth and can't wiggle out, and water is easily strained out

Which organisms have baleen plates?

the large filter feeder called the blue whale and other baleen whales have these

What adaptations do brown algae have to let it grow 10 meters high?

Have gas-filled floats to keep their leaves floating.

What adaptations does Sargassum weed have that help it live in the Sargasso Sea?

these adaptations include: being supported by bubble-like gas filled structures to keep it floating which enables it to get sunlight

Tide Pool

Volume of water left behind in a rock basin or other intertidal depression by an ebbing tide.

Where are sea grass beds found?

Nearby Coastal waters.

Salt Marsh

Type of marsh that is a transitional sea shore between land and salty water

Where do mangroves grow?

Low marshy areas and can tolerate salt water flooding of their roots and lower stems.

What trophic level does kelp occupy?

Kelp occupy trophic level of producer.

What type of algae makes up kelp?

Kelp is made up of various species of brown algae.

What is a holdfast?

kelp plants that grow attached to rocky bottoms by root-like structures

What is the primary productivity in a kelp forest like?

the productivity is high, rivaling that of some of the richest farmlands, the forests support a rich community of animals.

What organisms make a kelp forest their home?

the animals that live here include: small fishes, urchins, crabs, lobsters, other invertebrates, algae, snails

What conditions are necessary for coral to live? (temperature, clarity, depth)

they like water at 73-77 degree F, small changes in surface temp threaten coral reefs, require clear water, the sea level can't rise too quickly cause they can't keep up with it, and then die

What is a polyp?

an individual coral animal

What are zooxanthellae? What is their relationship with coral?

reef-building corals receive a lot of their energy from these microscopic dinoflagellates, they help the corals to grow quicker, and they get fed waste (symbiotic relationship)

What are some possible threats to coral?

some threatening things would be: increase in water temp, rising sea level, fishermen dragging nets

Describe the formation of a fringing reef, barrier reef and atoll.

volcano sinks and the reef stays behind, an atoll is a series of coral reefs surounding a lagoon that remains after a volcano sinks

What is the difference between infauna and epifauna?

infauna: animals that inhabit sediment deposits, epifauna: live on the sea floor

What is bioturbation?

this happens when benthic animals feed on or in sediment, they disturb the deposits

Describe Elasmobranchs or cartilaginous fishes. Name some animals belonging to this group.

these include: sharks, skates, and rays (considered more primitive)

True or False: Some sharks are filter feeders instead of predators.

basking sharks, whale sharks, and many rays are filter feeders

True or False: Sharks swim constantly their entire life.

most sharks swim ceaselessly their entire life, if they'd sink, they would asphyxiate

Describe Teleosts or bony fishes. Name some animals belonging to this group.

these have bony skeletons, scales, and a flap over their gills (diverse, large group) including: cod, halibut, flounder, sole, tune, herring, sardines

What is an anadromous fish? Name one example and outline its migratory path.

these fish include: salmon, shad, sturgeon, and striped bass, their migratory path begins in rivers, and then live in the ocean (return to river to mate, same place they were born)

What is a catadromous fish?

these fish breed in the open ocean (unlike salmon) and then spend their adult life in fresh water. An American eel is in this category.

What is schooling? Why is it an advantageous behavior?

this occurs when fish (like herring) reduce predation by swimming together as organized groups, keeping a certain distance between one another. (few hiding spots in the open ocean)

Describe the characteristics of marine mammals.

these animals are warm blooded, air breathing animals that bear live young, which they nurse.

What are some of the adaptations that allow mammals to live in the ocean?

some have baleen instead of teeth which benefits them when eating krill, some have lots of blubber to stay warm

Name and describe some marine mammals.

just a few are: whales, dolphins, walruses, killer whales

How are baleen whales different than toothed whales

they feed on lots a crustaceans (krill) they are filter feeders

Toothed whales are different than baleen whales because

these whales actively hunt for their prey

What are pinnipeds flippers like?

they are short, flat, wide flippers for hands and feet :)

Describe pinnipeds: what animals are in this group?

these animals are named for their distinctive swimming flippers: includes, seals, sea lions, and walruses, they inhabit coastal waters (pinnipeds have fur)

Describe the feeding habits of a manatee.

they are large herbivorous mammals that feed on vegetation in shallow waters along the coast and in the estuaries of Florida for example

Where do sea turtles lay their eggs?

lay their eggs on the beaches, the mother digs holes for them

Where do sea turtles live?

they live in the ocean

To which class do sea turtles belong?

they are in the reptile class (reptilia)

Describe some of the adaptations of marine birds.

they adapted with specialized bills (some are long, some are sharp for eating purposes)

Describe the adaptations of the penguin.

they are adapted to live at sea, their adapted streamline bodies make them fast and agile in the water, they can dive deep (800 ft) and hold their breath for 20 min.

These birds have dense bones to counteract the buoyancy problem



Overall weather in an area over a long period of time.

What are 7 controls on climate?

1. Latitude; 2. Elevation; 3. Topography; 4. Proximity to large bodies of water; 5. Earth's surface characteristics; 6. Atmospheric circulation; 7. Prevailing ocean circulation

How does latitude affect temperature and precipitation?

Colder climates toward poles - Sun strikes surface at an angle - Less incoming solar radiation per unit area

How does elevation affect temperature?

Higher elevations have colder climates.


Windward side of mountains are wetter

How does the ocean modify climate?

Climates near the ocean or large lakes have: - Lower annual temperature ranges (lower high temps and higher low temps) - Less seasonal variation (climate is nearly the same year round)

how does albedo affect climate?

Effects the total amount of solar radiation absorbed by a surface.

How do the wind belts affect temperature?

Wind blowing from ocean to land(less seasonal variation) OR Wind blowing across land to ocean(more seasonal variation).

How do the ocean currents affect temperatures?

Cities by cold ocean currents have colder, drier climates • Cities by warm ocean currents have warmer, wetter climates

El Niño

NE and SE tradewinds slacken • Equatorial currents become weak • Equatorial counter-current becomes strong • Warm water moves from west to east across the pacific

La Niña

Unusually strong tradewinds • Stronger than usual equatorial currents • Weaker than usual equatorial counter current • Water moves from east to west across Pacific

Describe the "normal" conditions in the Pacific Ocean

Upwelling on east side of Pacific (near So. America); Deep thermocline on west side of Pacific; Rainy weather on west side of Pacific.

Results of El Niño

Upwelling in East pacific ceases • Storms and rains in western North and South America • Drought in Hawaii, Indonesia • Less Hurricanes in Atlantic

Results of La Niña

North and South America is drier than usual • Indian monsoon is heavy • Heavy precipitation in Indonesia, Malaysia, and eastern Australia

How are El Nino and La Nina events monitored and predicted?

Empirical(or statistical) and Dynamical models.

How often do El Nino and La Nina events occur?

2 to 7 years.

North Atlantic Oscillation

Seesaw variation in air pressure between Iceland and Azores.

Where does North Atlantic Oscillation affect weather patterns and precipitation?

In winter over eastern North America and much of Europe and North Africa.

What is the Arctic Oscillation?

Seesaw variation in air pressure between the North Pole and the margins of the polar region.

What is the Pacific Decadal Oscillation?

Long-lived variation in climate over the North Pacific and North America.

Arctic Oscillation negative phase

Weak arctic winds allow arctic air to move southward - Colder than usual weather to Europe, Russia, Asia, Canada, and U.S. - Heavy lake-effect snow

Arctic Oscillation positive phase

Stronger than usual arctic winds - Strong winds block arctic air - More mild winters in U.S. and Canada - More Snow in Alaska, Scotland, Scandinavia


Permanently frozen layer of soil under the surface.

What do marine sediments and oxygen isotope analysis tell us about the global climate?

By studying the ratio of O16 to O18 we can determine past ice ages. (sediments-less O: ice age, sediments-more O: warm time)

What does pollen tell us about the global climate?

Changes in pollen type and abundance can indicate a change in climate

Describe what we learn from tree growth rings.

Narrow rings indicate drought, Wide rings indicate good growing conditions

What do we learn from ice cores?

Isotope analysis indicate cold and mild years, Bubbles trapped in ice- indicate composition of atmosphere

How old is the Earth?

4.6 Billion years old

Describe how the climate of the Mesozoic was different than the global climate today?

Average climate 6-8°C higher than today

Glacial climate

favors the thickening and expansion of glaciers

What is polar amplification?

An increase in the magnitude of a climatic change with increasing latitude, indicating that polar areas are subject to greater changes in climate

Describe the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age

temp was warmer than today and in the other the temp was .5 degrees cooler

When did the Medieval warm period occur?

950 - 1250 AD

When did the Little ice age occur?

1400-1850 AD

Interglacial climate

favors the thinning and retreat of existing glaciers or no glaciers at all

How does plate tectonics relate to climate change?

Continental drift altered the local and regional radiation budget & the response of air temp. & when ocean basins open and close that alters heat and currents change

What is a sunspot?

it is a dark blotch on the face of the sun (thousands of km across)

How often do sunspots form?

they develop from an intense magnetic field suppressing the flow of gases transporting heat energy from the sun's interior

How are sunspot activity, the Maunder minimum and the Little Ice Age related?

during the little ice age there was a cooler climate on earth and great decrease in sunspot activity (causing little ice age) according to Maunder minimum theory

Milankovitch cycles are used to explain:

the major climate fluctuations of the Pleistocene (ICE AGE)

Milankovitch cycles are based on 3 solar phenomenon

Changes in Precession, Changes in Obliquity, Changes in Eccentricity

Changes in Precession

the wobbling of Earth's axis, like a spinning top that is winding down.

How long does the Earth take to complete 1 of these wobbles?

23,000 years

Changes in Obliquity

The Earth is titled on its axis.

What is the angle of Earth's tilt today?

varies from 22.1 to 24.5 degrees.

How long does it take to cycle through one complete rotation (22.1 to 24.5 back to 22.1)?

41,000 years

If the tilt is higher, what happens to the winter temperatures?

High tilt: colder winters and warmer summers, Low tilt: more mild climate

Is the present tilt of the Earth increasing or decreasing?

it's been decreasing for about 10,000 years

See More

Please allow access to your computer’s microphone to use Voice Recording.

Having trouble? Click here for help.

We can’t access your microphone!

Click the icon above to update your browser permissions above and try again


Reload the page to try again!


Press Cmd-0 to reset your zoom

Press Ctrl-0 to reset your zoom

It looks like your browser might be zoomed in or out. Your browser needs to be zoomed to a normal size to record audio.

Please upgrade Flash or install Chrome
to use Voice Recording.

For more help, see our troubleshooting page.

Your microphone is muted

For help fixing this issue, see this FAQ.

Star this term

You can study starred terms together

Voice Recording