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a dynamic complex of plant, animal and microogranism communities and the nonliving environmental interacting as a functional unit within an explicit space.


of or relating to living organisms


nonliving, chemical and physical factors

formation of ecosystems

The abiotic factors predict the climate, which affects the biotic factors that live in the ecosystem

biomass pyramid

structure obtained when comparing biomass of producers, herbivores & carnivores

ecological footprint

concept for measuring demand on earth's resources to satisfy human consumption and waster absorption - measured in acreage

food chain

transfer of energy and nutrients through organisms as they feed on each other


the diversity of plant and animal life in a particular habitat (or in the world as a whole)

tropic categories

producers, consumers and detritus feeders/decomposers


capture energy from the sun


consume their energy. primary consumers feed on producers, secondary consumers feed on primary consumers

detritus feeders & decomposers

dead plant or animal material that certain animals feed on.

range of tolerance

the entire span that allows any growth at all

optimum condition

a certain level at which the organisms do best

limits of tolerance

the points at the high and low ends of the range of tolerance

zones of stress

between the optimal range and the high or low limit of tolerance

limiting factor

a factor that limits growth


tundra, coniferous forests, temperate forests, grassland, tropical rainforests, desert


little rainfall, extensive root system, animals adapt to having less water, extreme temperature changes


plants have little time to grow, large mammals, low temperatures, small roots, low rainfall


seasonal low rainfall, rich soils, height of grass depends on plants, good farmland

Coniferous Forest

low temperature, low rainfall, needle trees able to handle cold

Tropical Rainforest

High rainfall, warm weather, canopies (no life on forest floor), species live in the trees

Temperate Forest

trees have broad leaves, rainfall depends, low sunlight, fog

Two Laws of Sustainability

energy flow & nutrient recycling

Energy flows & efficiency

energy in ecosystems flow in one direction (need renewable resources). Higher up the biomass pyramid the more energy needed

Nutrient Recycling

recycling matter prevents accumulation of wastes & guarantees ecosystems will not run out of essential elements

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