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Unit 2: Ecology

Population Ecology
Age Structure: number of individuals
in each group of several age
Carrying capacity: maximum
number of individuals of a
population that a given environment
can sustain indefinitely (means that
the sustainable supply of resources
determines population size)
Demographic transition model:
describes how growth rate changes
as a country becomes more
Density-dependent control: lower
reproductive success and appear
with crowding (i.e. disease)

Biotic potential: the maximum

possible per capita rate of increase
for its species (ideal habitat, no
threats, etc.)
Cohort: a group of individuals born
during the same interval

Demographics: stats that describe

population size, age structure,
density, distribution, etc.

Density-independent control:
decrease reproductive success as
well, but are unaffected by crowding
(i.e. natural disasters)
Doubling time: the time it takes for a Ecology: study of organisms
population to double in size
relationships with each other and
their surroundings
Emigration: departure of individuals Exponential growth: population size
that then take up residence
will continue to grow by the same
somewhere else
proportion every time interval
Immigration: arrival of new residents Life history pattern: a set of
from other populations
adaptations that affect when an
individual starts reproducing, how
many offspring, how it produces,
Limiting factor: any essential
Logistic growth: a small population
resource that is in short supply
starts growing slowly in size, then its
grows rapidly, then levels off once
carrying capacity is reached
Migration: reoccurring roundtrip
Per capita: births and deaths in
between regions, usually in
terms of rate per individual
response to shifts in environmental
Population density: number of
Population distribution: pattern by
individuals in a specified portion of a which individuals are dispersed in

Population size: number of
individuals in their population
Reproductive base: individuals who
have the ability to reproduce when
mature and those able to reproduce
Total fertility rate: average number
of children born to the women of a
population during their reproductive

their habitat (clumped, nearly

uniform, or random)
r: per capita growth rate; per capita
birth rate-per capita death rate
Survivorship curve: a graph line that
emerges when you plot a cohorts
age-specific survival in its habitat
Zero population growth: number of
births is balanced by an equal
number of deaths

1. Describe a population and all variables that go along with a

population. Population refers to all members of a species within an area.
Population size can be divided into age structures, divided by: prereproductive, reproductive, and post-reproductive. Populations can be
dispersed as clumped (most common, conditions for most species tend to be
patchy), nearly uniform (rare, individuals are most spaced when competition
for resources is rare), and random (habitat conditions are nearly uniform,
resource availability, and individuals on a population neither attract nor
avoid each other). Demographics are used to describe a population, which
include size, age structure, density, distribution, and other factors.
2. Explain the concept of population growth, along with the
variables that affect population growth. Environmental conditions and
species interactions affect population growth. Populations are constantly
changing. They increase by immigration/births, decrease by
emigration/deaths. Zero population growth would only occur if the number of
births is balanced by the number of deaths. But in most cases, populations
will grow exponentially (where birth rates are higher than death rates).
Subtract populations per capita death rate (d) from its per capita birth rate
(b), and you will have the per capita growth rate (r). You can calculate the
population growth (G) for each interval by multiplying (r) by (N) (number of
individuals). An important thing to remember: per capita growth rate stays
the same with exponential growth. Along with population growth are limiting
factors and density-dependent/independent factors. Most populations will
grow logistically. Population growth rate can also change as a country
becomes more developed. Before the industrial stage, living conditions are
harsh. Then, during the transitional stage, food production and health care
both improve. During the industrial stage, birth rate slows, and in the
postindustrial stage, the birth rate falls below the death rate.

3. Carrying capacity, and the types of graphs (logistic and

exponential). Carrying capacity means that the sustainable supply of
resources determines population size. Logistic growth can further reinforce
this point. With this pattern, a small population starts growing slowly, then
grows rapidly, and then levels off once carrying capacity is reached. Logistic
growth is represented by an S-shaped curve. This is often what happens in
nature. Exponential growth, however, is represented by a J-shaped curve.
However, many limiting factors play a role in the population. This is what
causes logistic growth. Because of limiting factors, the population will level
off because resources become too scarce, death rate increases, etc.
4. Be able to read survivorship curves and age structure diagrams. A
survivorship curve is the line that emerges when you plot a cohorts agespecific survival. There are three different curves: Type 1, Type 2, and Type 3.
Type 1 is high until later in life (this is typical in human populations). Type 2
indicates that death rates do not vary much with age. Type 3 shows that the
death rate I early in the beginning of life (common or marine invertebrates,
insects, and fungi). Each species also have at epical reproductive strategy.
Population density can affect the reproductive strategy. At low density, there
is little competition for resources. These individuals reproduce young,
produce many, and invest little parental care. Selections that favors traits
that maximize the number of offspring is called r-selection. Big individuals
that reproduce later in life and produce fewer, higher quality offspring are
called k-selection. This selection is more focused on offspring quality, not
number. Age structure diagrams are also revealing. In these diagrams, the
closer the bar is to the y-axis, the larger the population is.

Community Structure and Biodiversity

Biodiversity: the variety of life in a

Climax community: an array of

species that will persist over time
and will be reconstituted in the
event of a disturbance
Commensalism: type of interaction
that benefits one specie and does
not affect the other
Community structure: climate and
topography influence temperature,
soil, moisture; only certain kinds of
foods and resources; species have

Camouflage: body shape, color

pattern, behavior, or any
combination make an individual
blend in with its surroundings
Co-evolution: evolution of one
species in response to new
adaptations that occur in other
Community: all species living in a
Competitive exclusion: whenever
two species require the same limited
resources, the better competitor will
drive the less competitive species to

traits that adapt them to certain

conditions; species interactions
cause shits in numbers; natural and
man-made disasters. All
communities include niches as well
Ecological succession: when a
species composition changes over
time, and they alter their habitat in
ways that allows other species to
come in and replace them (pioneer
species move in, followed by
primary succession, and secondary
succession for areas disturbed in a
Geographical dispersal: residents of
an established community move out
of their home and successfully take
up residence elsewhere
Host: the source of nutrients that a
parasite feeds off of; parasites cause
disease in them
Keystone species: a species that has
a disproportionately large effect on
a community relative to its
Mutualism: a type of interaction
where both species benefit

Parasite: an organism that spends

its life feeding off the nutrients of
another organism
Parasitoid: insects that lay eggs in
other insects
Prey: living organism that predators
kill and eat
Resource portioning: the subdividing
of an essential resource, which
reduces competition among species
that require it

extinction in habitat

Endangered species: A plant or

animal species existing in such small
numbers that it is in danger of
becoming extinct, especially such a
species placed in jeopardy as a
result of human activity

Habitat: the place where a species


Interspecific competition: a type of

interaction that hurts both species
Mimicry: species come to resemble
(through evolution) other species

Niche: a unique ecological rule that

each species has; conditions,
resources, and interactions
necessary for survival and
Pioneer species: colonizers of newly
vacated habitats; they have high
dispersal rates, grow fast, and
produce many offspring
Predation: a free-living organism
that kill their prey
Primary succession: the process that
begins when pioneer species
colonize a barren habitat with no soil
Secondary succession: the recovery
of a disturbed area; occurs in
abandoned fields, burned forests,

Social parasite: animals that take

advantage of the behavior the host
to complete their life cycle
Warning coloration: many organisms
advertise their bad-tasting or toxinladen properties with flashy colors
and patterns

Symbiosis: when two organisms

cant live without each other

1. Be able to recognize examples of community interactions. Species

in a community interact in a variety of different ways. Commensalism (i.e.
bacteria in your gut), mutualism (i.e. birds pollinate plants), interspecific
competition, predation (i.e. lynx and snow hare), and parasitism (i.e.
roundworms) are all forms of interactions. Parasitism, commensalism, and
mutualism can all be types of symbiosis. These species usually spend most
of their life in close association with each other. Mutualists often occur in
nature, like mycorrhizal fungi! There are many different types of competitive
interactions. Interspecific (between different species) is usually not as
intense. With interference, one species prevents another from accessing
some resource. In exploitative, species do not interact directly; each reduces
the amount of resources available to the other by using that resource.
Competitive exclusion is what happens when two species requires the same
limited resource, and the better competitor will drive the other to extinction.
Predator-prey interactions occur when the predator get energy and nutrients
from the prey. You will read more about this later.
2. Explain succession from start to finish. This process starts with the
pioneer species, who colonize newly vacated areas. These species grow fast
and produce many offspring. Primary succession occurs when the pioneer
species colonize a barren habitat with no soil. Mosses and lichens are often
the first to colonize. They are small, have a short life cycle, can tolerate
extreme climate, and survive with little or no soil. These pioneers help
improve the soil. Many of these species also team up with nitrogen-fixing
bacteria, so they can also grow in nitrogen-poor areas. Seeds of later species
also spread, and organic wastes accumulate, adding more volume and
nutrients to the soil. Succession can happen in unpredictable ways, and
species composition changes frequently. Disturbances can also influence
species composition. According to the intermediate disturbance hypothesis,
species richness is greatest in communities where disturbances are
moderate in the intensity/frequency.
3. How predators and prey interact. Predators get energy and nutrients
from prey. The number of each will affect the other. There are three different
types of responses by predators to prey density. Type I is when the proportion

of prey killed is constant, which means that the number killed is proportional
to prey density. For example, the more flies in an area, the more will get
caught in a spiders web. In type II, the number of prey killed depends on the
capacity of predators to capture, eat, and also digest their prey. In this type,
when prey density raises, the kill rate also increases sharply. But eventually,
it will slow because the predator is exposed to more prey than it can handle.
For example, when a wolf kills a caribou, it will not hunt for another until it
has eaten and digested the first one. The last one, type III, occurs when the
number of kills increases slowly until prey density exceeds a certain level,
then rises rapidly, and levels off. This can happen when a) the predator
switches between prey b) the predator is learning how to catch the prey and
c) the prey runs out of hiding places.
4. How evolution relates to behavior and how selection pressures
relate to predation.

Ecosystems: an array of organisms
and a physical environment, all
interacting through a one-way flow
of energy and cycling of nutrients
Biogeochemical cycle: an essential
element moves from one or more
nonliving environmental reservoirs,
through living organisms, then back
to reservoirs
Biomass period: illustrates the dry
weight of all organisms at each
trophic level in an ecosystem
Consumer: heterotrophs that get
energy and carbon by feeding on
tissues, waste, and remains of
producers and one another
Denitrification: denitrifying bacteria
convert nitrate or nitrite to gaseous
nitrogen or to nitrogen oxide

Ammonification: organisms break

apart proteins and other nitrogencontaining molecules and produce
Biological magnification: a chemical
that degrades slowly or not at all
becomes increasingly concentrated
in tissues o organism as it moves up
the food chain
Carbon cycle: carbon moves through
the lower atmosphere and all food
webs on its way to and from the
largest reservoirs
Decomposer: feed on organic
wastes and remains and break them
down into inorganic building blocks

Detrital food webs: energy from

producers flows to derivers, which
tend to be smaller animals, and to
Detritivore: organisms that dine on
Ecosystem modeling: all ecosystems
small particles of organic matter (i.e. run on energy by primary producers,
earthworms and crabs)
then consumers that feed on the
primary producers; energy flows one
way because energy cannot be

Energy pyramid: illustrates how the

amount of usable energy diminishes
as it is transferred through an
Food chain: a sequence of steps by
which some energy captured by
primary producers is transferred to
organisms at successively higher
trophic levels
Global warming: a long-term
increase in temperature near the
Earths surface
Greenhouse effect: energy absorbed
by the earth; the infrared energy
radiates back towards space, but
greenhouse gases absorb some of
the infrared energy, and then emit a
portion of it back to the Earths
surface, this keeps the Earth livable

recycled; nutrients are recycled

back through the ecosystem
Eutrophication: nutrient enrichment
of any ecosystem that is otherwise
low in nutrients
Food web: a diagram that illustrates
trophic interactions among species
in one particular ecosystem

Grazing food web: the energy stored

in producer tissues flow to
herbivores, which tend to be
relatively large animals
Hydrologic cycle:

1. Be able to explain how energy moves through an ecosystem

food chains/webs, productivity, and pyramids.

Plant Nutrition and Transport

CAM plant: dry plants (cactus) that
open stomata at night, when the
plant takes in and fixes carbon from
carbon dioxide; during the day, they
close, and the plant uses the carbon
that it fixed curing the night or
Casparian strip: a waterproof band
between the plasma membranes of
endodermal cells

Carnivorous plant: plants that obtain

nutrients from trapping and
consuming animals, typically insects

Cohesion-tension theory: this states

that water inside a xylem is pulled
upward by airs drying power, which

Companion cell: cells pressed

against sieve tubes that actively
transport organic products of
photosynthesis into the sieve cells
Endodermis: ring of tightly packed
cells at innermost portion of the
Exodermis: a layer of cells just
beneath the surface of root plants

Humus: decomposing organic

material; formed from dead
organisms and organic litter (humus
is a part of soil)
Loam: soil with best oxygen and
water penetration; equal portions of
sand, silt, and clay

Nitrogen fixation: process by which

nitrogen gas is converted to
Phloem: a vascular tissue with
organized arrays of conducting
tubes, fibers, and strands of
parenchyma cells; sieve tubes in
phloem consist of living cells
Plant physiology: plants require
different nutrients, all available in
water or air; a deficiency in any of
the nutrients can affect plant growth

creates a negative pressure called

tension; tension extends from leaves
to roots
Cuticle: water-impermeable layer
that coats the walls of all plants
exposed to air; helps conserve water
Erosion: loss of soil under the force
of strong wind and water
Guard cell: a pair of specialized
epidermal cells that define each
stoma; when they swell with water,
they bend and form a gap in
between them (the gap is the
stoma); when cells lose water, they
collapse against each other and
Leaching: process by which water
removes soil nutrients and carries
them away
Mycorrhiza: a form of mutualism
between a young root and a fungus;
fungal hyphae grow around the root
and the hyphae can absorb minerals
from a larger volume of soil
Nutrient: an element or molecule
with an essential role in an
organisms growth and survival
Pressure flow theory: this states that
internal pressure builds up in sieve
tubes at a source; a pressure
gradient then pushes solute-rich
fluid to a sink, where solutes are
removed from the phloem

1. How do roots function, including the importance of mycorrhizae

and root nodules. In plants, the roots are exploring the soil. Root tips
sprout many root hairs, and these increase the surface area available for
absorbing water and dissolved mineral ions. Mycorrhizae is a type off
mutualism between a young root and fungus. The fungal hyphae grow as a
covering around the root, and these make it possible for the roots to absorb
minerals from a larger volume of soil. The root then gives sugar and nutrientrich compounds to the fungus, and the fungus gives some of the minerals to
the plant. Mycozzhizae and root hairs absorb water and ions rom soil.
Legumes ae mutualists with certain types of bacteria in the soil. Legumes
require nitrogen. Bacteria has enzymes that convert nitrogen to ammonia.
Root nodules are masses of bacteria-infected root cells that fix nitrogen and
share it with the plant. In return, the plant provides the bacteria with an
oxygen-free environment and shares sugars with bacteria.

2. How roots take up water.

Autotroph: organisms that make
their own food by getting energy
from the environment
Photosynthesis: the process by
which green plants and some other
organisms use sunlight to
synthesize foods from carbon
dioxide and water
Pigment: an organic molecule that
selectively absorbs light of specific
Photon: a particle representing a
quantum of light or other
electromagnetic radiation

Heterotroph: get energy and carbon

from organic molecules that have
already been assembled by other
Chloroplast: an organelle that
specializes in photosynthesis

Spectrum: visible light;

electromagnetic energy radiating
from the sun
Stoma: semifluid matrix in the outer
membranes of plant chloroplasts;
contains DNA, ribosomes, and the
thylakoid membrane
Thylakoid membrane: stacks of disks Grana: the stacks of thylakoids
that contain many light-harvesting
embedded in the stroma of a
pigments; also contains
Photoautotroph: make sugar from
Chemoautotroph: extract energy
carbon dioxide and water using the
and carbon from simple molecules in

energy of sunlight
Stomata: small openings across the
epidermal surfaces on leaves and
green stems

Electron transport chain:

Chlorophyll: a green pigment

responsible for the absorption of
light to provide energy for

the environment; do not use

Chemiosmosis: stage during
photosynthesis where H ions flow
through ATP synthase, which gives
power to connect ADP and PO4^-3,
producing ATP
Accessory pigment: light-absorbing
compounds, found in photosynthetic
organisms, that work in conjunction
with chlorophyll a

1. Know the equation for photosynthesis. 6CO2+6H2O yields 6CO2 +

2. Process of photosynthesis, including how photosystems work. The
first stage of photosynthesis in the light-dependent reactions. Sunlight drives
electrons out of photosystem II. Photosystem II then gets replacement
electrons from H2O (splits up into O2 and H ions). This process is called
photolysis. The oxygen then leaves the cell in the form of O2. Next, the
electrons are transferred to an electron transfer chain. The electrons pass
from one molecule to the next and lose a little bit of their extra energy each
time. The electron transfer chain uses the released energy to move hydrogen
ions across the membrane, into the empty space (thylakoid compartment).
This then makes a hydrogen ion gradient across the thylakoid membrane.
Hydrogen ions next flow out of the space through a membrane transport
chain called ATP synthase. Hydrogen ions that flow through this protein
causes it to attach a phosphate group to ADP. So, in the end, a hydrogen ion
gradient drives the formation of ATP (ADP and phosphate group) in the
stroma. Now, back to the electrons that left photosystem II. These electrons
move through an electron transport chain to photosystem I. Photosystem I
absorbs energy that drives electrons out of photosystem I. These same
electrons next enter a different electron transfer chain, which at the end
NADP+ accepts the electrons, along with H+, to form NADPH. One more
important thing to remember this whole process is the noncyclic pathway,
which produces ATP, releases O2, and also forms NADPH. The cyclic NOT

3. Process of the Calvin Benson Cycle. The Calvin cycle is a series of

enzyme-mediated reactions that build sugars in the stroma of the
chloroplasts. This process is considerably simpler than the light-dependent
4. Know the similarities/differences between C3, C4, and CAM
plants. C3 plants only use the Calvin cycle to fix carbon. They are called C3
because three-carbon PGA is the first stable intermediate to form. Most
plants use this pathway, but it can be inefficient of dry days. The stomata are
usually closed on dry days. But, gases also enter the plant through the
stoma. This can be problematic. When the stoma are closed, CO2 cannot
enter the plant, and O2 cant diffuse out! This means that when the stoma
are closed, oxygen builds up in the plant. So rubisco, instead of carbon, fixes
O2 to RuBP in a pathway called photorespiration (CO2 is a product of this, so
the plant loses carbon). Now you can see why sugar production in C3 plants
is inefficient on dry days. C4 plants (i.e. corn, bamboo) use additional
reactions on dry days. They are called C4 because four-carbon oxaloacetate
is the first stable intermediate to form. In C4 plants, the reactions occur in
the mesophyll. Carbon is fixed by a non-oxygen requiring enzyme, and an
intermediate is moved into bundle-sheath cells, where it is converted to CO2.
Then, rubisco fixes carbon again as the CO2 enters the Calvin cycle. This
process keeps CO2 levels high, which minimizes photorespiration. Finally,
CAM plants (i.e. cactus) have a different pathway that allows them to
converse water in extremely hot regions. CAM uses the C4 and Calvin cycle,
but stoma open at night (where the C4 cycle fixes carbon). This then makes
a four-carbon acid. When stoma close, this acid moves out of the plant and
becomes CO2 (which enters the Calvin cycle).
5. Know some of the wavelengths absorbed by each of the pigments
used in photosynthesis.