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all earth's ecosystems

abiotic factors

nonliving or physical factors that shape an ecosystem

trophic structure

the nutritional relationships among the producers and consumers in an ecosystem


organisms that consume plants or algae, primary consumers


meat eaters, eat herbivores, secondary consumers

energy pyramid

the diagram of a trophic structure

10% rule

each level recieves about one tenth of the energy of the level below it


the total quantity of living matter at each trophic level


the rate at which biomass forms


a predator species consumes a prey species


the particular combination of resources that a species is adapted to exploit

competitive exclusion principle

two species cannot occupy the same niche in the same ecosystem for long


three types of interactions between species: mutualism, parasitism, commensalism


both species benefit


a parasite lives in or on a host that provides it with nutrients or other resources


one organsism benefits and the other is unaffected

limiting factors

the idea that the supply of light, water, or other needs can limit the rate of a process like photosynthesis

exponential growth

growth pattern in which the individuals in a population reproduce at a constant rate

population density

the number of individuals per unit of land area or water volume

logistic growth

a population that develps in a new environment may begin to grow exponentially, but it soon slows to a linear growth pattern and eventually approaches a stable maximum

carrying capacity

the largest population of a species that the environment can support

boom-and-bust cycle

exponential growth leads to a period when the population exceeds its carrying capacity, causing the population to decrease rapidly or crash

predator-prey cycle

the cycles of the predators lag behind the cycle of the prey population


Large geographic areas with similar climates and ecosystems

tropical rain forest

biome near the equator with warm temperatures, wet weather, and lush plant growth


a flat grassland in tropical or subtropical regions


a barren region with little or no rainfall, usually sandy and without trees

perennial vegetation

plants that live more than one year


plants having thick leaves with large cells able to store water


type of vegetation made up of dense forests of shrubs and short trees, common in mediterranean climates

temperate grasslands

receive less water and are subject to lower temperatures than savannas. North american prairie

temperate deciduous forests

temperate areas, moderate Precipitation, Hot summers, cold winters, soil is rich in organic material


high elevations, harsh winters, short summers, lots of snow, not much water until the spring thaw


very high altitudes, plants are matlike, continuously frozen ground


producers near the surface of the water where sunlight penetrates


small animals that feed on phytoplankton

photic zone

the shallow top layer of the ocean where enough light penetrates for photosynthesis to occue

aphotic zone

below photic zone, light is insufficient there for photosynthesis

interidal zone

shore area between the high-tide and low-tide marks

neritic zone

the shallow water over the continental shelf

oceanic zone

where the sea floor drops sharply, large ocean animals live here

pelagic zone

the open water not associated with the seafloor

benthic zone

the seafloor

abyssal zone

the area of the benthic zone where light does not penetrate


dispersing organisms successfully settle in a new area


the new organism

primary succession

succession that occurs on surfaces where no soil exists

secondary succession

succession on a site where an existing community has been disrupted


plants that only live for one year

climax community

when the web of interaction is so intricate that no more species can fit in it, it has reached a stable equilibrium

common pool resources (commons)

goods and services provided by an ecosystem that is shared by many but controlled by no one person

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