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Dynamic Ecosystem
Ecological terms
means all the conditions that surround any living organism - both the other living things and the non-living
things or physical surroundings
a habitat means a place where plants and animals live
a population means all the members of a single species that live in a habitat
a community of living
means all the populations of different organisms living together in a habitat
an ecosystem refers to a community of animals, plants and micro-organisms, together with the habitat where they live

Biotic and Abiotic Factors
Abiotic factors are the effect of the material, non-living environment- pH, temperature
Biotic factors are the effect of all the living things in the environment - for example:
Producers Green plants. All food chains start with them, because they can make food by photosynthesis.
feed on plant material. They are herbivores
feed primarily on animal material. They are carnivores or omnivores - eg cats, dogs and lions.
Omnivores eat both plants and animals - eg bears and humans.
Predators kill for food. They are either secondary or tertiary consumers
Prey are the organisms that predators feed on. Examples of predator and prey species are: fox and rabbit

Scavengers feed on dead animals . They perform a useful cleaning-up function. Examples are crow, vulture and hyena.
feed on dead and decaying organisms (They do not 'eat' the food like scavengers, as they have no mouth-parts.
Instead they break down solid matter into liquids which they can absorb.) Examples: bacteria and some fungi.

Food Chains
The source of all food is the activity of autotrophs, mainly photosynthesis by plants.
They are called producers because only they can manufacture food from inorganic raw materials.
This food feeds herbivores, called primary consumers.
Carnivores that feed on herbivores are called secondary consumers.
Carnivores that feed on other carnivores are tertiary (or higher) consumers.
Such a path of food consumption is called a food chain.
Each level of consumption in a food chain is called a trophic level.
When energy is transferred to the next trophic level, 90%of the chemical energy in the food is used up for metabolic activities and
lost as heat.
Only 10% of the energy in an organism is passed on to the next trophic level.
The table gives one example of a food chain and the trophic levels represented in it.

Food webs





Bacteria of
In general,

(Primary Consumers)

(Secondary, tertiary, etc. consumers)


1. In its natural habitat it is unusual for an animal to eat only one particular organism, so a more realistic way of showing feeding
relationships is to draw a series of interconnecting food chains called a food web.
2. The food web below describes feeding relationships in a freshwater pond ecosystem.
3. It allows you to follow the routes that biomass (and energy) take through the system.
Pondweed (a producer) is eaten by the mayfly nymphs, which are in eaten by both the
dragonfly nymphs and the brown trout. The brown trout eat the dragonfly nymphs too.
The other producer in this web is the microscopic algae. The freshwater shrimp eats this.
The shrimps are eaten by dragon fly nymphs and brown trout

A pyramid of biomass, which shows not the numbers of organisms at each level, but the
amount of biological material.
A pyramid of biomass for the oak tree would look like this:

Pyramids of biomass are always pyramid-shaped
This table shows the relational biomass of each of the major groups in the food chain:

Tertiary Consumers

Secondary Consumers

Primary Consumers


Some organisms find that they are better able to survive and reproduce by living closely together with another organism of a different
species. Some examples of different styles of symbiosis are:

1. Commensalism (+/0)
Barnacles which attach to a whale or scallop shell. The barnacles get a home and transport, and the whale or scallop is not unduly
affected. This type of symbiosis, where one organism benefits and the other suffers no harm, is called commensalism.
The host is unaffected, while the commensal benefits.
Epiphytes are commensal plants. Example orchids and ferns.
Epizoites are commensal animals. Example Remora fish (on sharks)
2. Mutualism (+/+)
Lichens are formed by algae and fungi living together. Algae can photosynthesise and make food which is shared by the fungus. The
fungus in turn shelters the algae from a harsh climate. This kind of mutually beneficial co-operative relationship is called mutualism.
Another example is Rhizobium bacteria that live in root nodules of legume plants.

3. Parasitism (+/-)
A tapeworm lives inside another animal, attaching itself to the host's gut and absorbing its host's food.
The host loses nutrition, and may develop weight loss, diarrhoea and vomiting. This kind of one-sided symbiosis is called parasitism.


Interdependence of organisms
1. All living things within an ecosystem are interdependent.
2. A change in the size of one population affects all other organisms within the ecosystem. This is shown particularly clearly by the
relationship between predator and prey populations.

Saprophytes (fungi and bacteria) obtain food from dead or decaying organisms and decompose them.

What is "ecological succession"?
1. "Ecological succession" is the observed process of change in the species structure of an ecological community over time.
2. Pioneer organisms are the first organisms to reoccupy an area which has been disturbed by a disruption.
3. Typical pioneers in a succession include grasses in a plowed field or lichens on rocks.
4. These pioneer organisms modify their environment, ultimately creating conditions which are less favorable for themselves, but
establishing conditions under which more advanced organisms can live.
5. Over time, the succession occurs in a series of plant stages which leads to a stable final community which is very similar to the
plant community which originally existed in the ecosystem.
6. This final stable plant community is called a climax community. This community may reach a point of stability that can last for
hundreds or thousands of years.

Succession in an unused mining pond:
Submerged water plantsfloating plantsamphibious plantsland plants
Mangrove Swamps

1. Mangroves are mostly tropical trees or shrubs that grow between near mean sea level and the high spring tide mark in stable
shores where they form distinct communities known as mangrove forests.
2. Mangroves are the only true viviparous plants. This means that the seed remains attached to the parent plant and germinates
before falling from the tree

3. In general, mangroves can be characterized by the following attributes:
Adaptations, such as specialized roots, that help them cope with their environment.
The ability to exclude or filter out salt.
Seeds germinate while still on the parent plant.
Restricted to the mangrove environment.

Avicennia and Sonneratia Rhizophora Bruguiera sp
(pneumatophores) (prop roots) (knee-shaped Buttress roots)

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Question 10
(b) A paddy field is developed into an industrial area as
shown in Diagram 8

Discuss the good and bad social, economic and environmental effects of this development [10m]

Question 11



Pollution is the addition of substances to the environment that may be harmful to living organisms.

Atmospheric pollution
Atmospheric pollution is caused by
1. The burning of wood and fossil fuels (coal, gas and oil);
2. Emissions from petrol or diesel engines;
3. Discharges from factories, power stations,
4. Waste dumping;
5. Agricultural livestock.

The pollutants involved include:
Smoke, which damages air quality and deposits soot on surfaces such as tree trunks and leaves

Carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas causing climate change
Methane, the second most important greenhouse gas causing climate change
Sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide, which mix with rainwater to form acid rain. Acid rain corrodes buildings and damages
trees and plants.
Carbon monoxide, which is poisonous to humans and animals (it reacts with haemoglobin and prevents it carrying oxygen)
Dust (produced by activities such as quarrying and mining) which may impair plants' ability to photosynthesise and people's
ability to breathe

Water pollution
Water pollution is caused by the discharge of harmful substances into the sea, rivers, lakes or the water table. Pollutants include:
Agrochemicals such as fertilisers and pesticides which damage aquatic ecosystems
Sewage, which when dumped into rivers or the sea can kill aquatic organisms and harm human health
Chemical contaminants, discharged by factories or through sewage systems, may contaminate soil or seabeds, and have
unpredictable effects on wildlife - for example damage to reproductive organs through exposure to human sex hormones.
Slurry (a liquid manure made of animal droppings and urine) which if it drains into streams and rivers can harm aquatic wildlife
Oil - spilled from oil tankers and refineries - which destroys habitats, poisons water supplies, and kills aquatic wildlife and birds

Other types of pollution

Radiation pollution - caused by either deliberate or accidental discharge of nuclear waste - can contaminate the soil, water and air for
Radiation can cause cancers like leukaemia.
Radioactive waste cannot be safely burnt or buried or sunk, but has to be stored and transported in lead- or glass-lined containers
which stop the radiation from passing out.
Many radioactive compounds stay radioactive for thousands of years.


Noise pollution, caused by aircraft and other engines, road or building works, can induce stress in both humans and wildlife.

Litter - especially non-biodegradable litter such as plastic and glass - can seriously degrade human habitats, as well as injuring both
humans and wildlife.

Controlling pollution
Humans do not have to pollute the environment as much as they do.
Outputs of smoke and soot - once the main pollutants in industrial societies - have been massively reduced over the last 100 years.
There are many things that could be done to reduce the impact of other types of human pollution as well.

Type of pollution Source Control measures
smoke and soot burning wood and fossil fuels
smokeless zones
smokeless fuel
carbon dioxide
carbon monoxide
burning fossil fuels
burn less fossil fuel (switch to clean energy
build cleaner engines (eg catalytic converters)
reduce energy consumption
burning fossil fuel, landfill waste and agricultural
burn less fossil fuels
cut waste production

Type of pollution Source Control measures
cut livestock numbers
sulphur dioxide
nitrogen dioxide
fossil fuels
burn less fossil fuel
build cleaner engines
reduce energy consumption
dust factories, quarrying etc
efficient air filters
stricter laws against polluters
fertilisers and
use organic fertilisers instead
use biological pest controls instead
oil tankers, refineries
use less oil
stricter laws against polluters

Important phenomenon:
1. Global warming
1. The earth has got steadily warmer over the last 150 years, as levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide have got steadily higher.
2. Global temperature is the result of a balance between heat received from the sun and heat radiated back into space.

3. The earth's atmosphere forms an insulating layer, keeping some - but not all - of the sun's heat in, a bit like the glass roof of a
4. Human activities such as burning fossil fuels for energy and transport are adding more and more carbon dioxide to the
5. At the same time large-scale deforestation is reducing the number of trees and other green plants removing carbon dioxide for
6. Hence - rising carbon dioxide levels.
7. Levels of atmospheric methane are also going up. Methane is produced by livestock farming, rotting plant material in marshes
and paddy fields, and by drilling for oil and gas.
8. Methane and carbon dioxide are greenhouse gases - they insulate the atmosphere so that it traps more of the sun's energy.
9. This is the called the greenhouse effect, and it is the cause of global warming.
10. Global warming is the observed increase in the average temperature of the Earth's atmosphere and oceans in recent decades.

Results of global warming
Rises of just a few degrees in world temperatures could have a dramatic impact on world climate:
global weather patterns may change, changing rainfall patterns, causing drought in some places and floods in others
melting of polar ice caps could raise sea levels, causing increased coastal erosion and flooding of low-lying land - including some
major cities

2. Ozone destruction
1. Chlorofluorocarbons or CFCs, used in fridges, air conditioners and aerosols, are another greenhouse gas.
2. Though there are much lower levels of CFCs in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide and methane, they are thousands of
times more effective at trapping heat.
3. They also damage the outer ozone layer of the atmosphere by breaking apart ozone molecules. The ozone layer acts like a
screen protecting us from the sun's harmful UV rays, and CFCs are causing holes to appear in the layer, allowing more UV
rays to pass through, and increasing the risk of skin cancer.
UV rays
+ Cl

Cl + O
ClO + O

The chlorine atom changes an ozone molecule to ordinary oxygen
ClO + O
Cl + 2 O

The ClO from the previous reaction destroys a second ozone molecule and recreates the original chlorine atom, which can
repeat the first reaction and continue to destroy ozone
3. Eutrophication
Eutrophication is the pollution of a river or a pond, by the addition of artificial or natural substances, such as nitrates and phosphates,
through fertilizers or sewage. In other terms, it is the "bloom" or great increase of phytoplankton or algae in a water body. Negative
environmental effects include the depletion of oxygen in the water, or also known as the increase in BOD levels( Biochemical Oxygen
Demand) which induces reductions in specific fish and other animal populations.


4. Acid rain
Acid rain is a rain that is unusually acidic, meaning that it possesses elevated levels of hydrogen ions (low pH). It can have harmful
effects on plants, aquatic animals, and infrastructure. Acid rain is caused by emissions of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen
oxides which react with the water molecules in the atmosphere to produce acids

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