environmental science exam 2

What is Ecology and what does it seek to explain?
the scientific study of the relationships living organisms have with each other and with their environment.            It seeks to explain life processes, basic needs, and adaptations, distributions and abundance of organisms, movement of matter and energy through living communities, successional development of ecosystems, abundance and distribution of biodiversity, use and restoration of ecosystems.
How does the Land Ethic relate to ecology and valuing and preserving biodiversity? (According to Leopold, “A thing is right when.

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it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.


the hierarchy of organism:Species
The different kinds of living things in the community that are distinct from other groups (robins versus redwing blackbirds, for example).
the hierarchy of organisms & their environmen:Populations
The certain number of individuals that make up the interbreeding, reproducing group that live in a given area
hierarchy of organisms & their environmen:Biotic Communities
This includes all the different populations of vegetation and animals of a given area.
the hierarchy of organisms & their environment:Ecosystems
An interactive complex of communities and the abiotic environment affecting them within a particular area. (abiotic-non-living chemical & physical factors such as climate)
A cluster of interacting ecosystems (scale a human can envision)
Biome is larger than a landscape that includes a large area of Earth’s surface with the same climate and similar vegetation.
All the interconnected ecosystems of the entire Earth.

Ecology study of Moose and Wolves on Isle Royale and how it relates to a variety of ecological concepts (e.g. carrying capacity, predator/prey community interactions)
Wolves eating the moose, moose become low: wolves are low, moose become low from climate change and ticks
Abiotic environmental factors
amount of light availability, availability of water, and concentration of oxygen
biotic environmental factors
degree of predation, population rate, reproductive rate
the “place” where a species is biologically adapted to live. (ex: deciduous forest, swamp, grassy field)
Refers to what the animal feeds on, where it feeds, when it feeds, where it finds shelter, how it responds to abiotic factors, and where it nests.
Anything that occupies space and has mass.

the ability to move matterAs something inclines it takes energy in then reaches potential energy then energy is released when it declines
Kinetic energy
energy in motion (light, heat, physical motion, and electrical current)
Potential energy
energy in storage (energy stored in gasoline and other fuels aka chemical energy)
1st law of thermodynamics
energy is neither created nor destroyed, but may be converted from one form to another. The total amount of energy in the universe is constant.
 2nd law of thermodynamics 
in any energy conversion, some of the usable energy is always lost. (you never break even)
Four spheres of Earth’s environment
Atmosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere
How matter cycles through 4 spheres (specifically carbon and water cycles)
CO2 cycle: sunlight-photosynthesis, organic carbon-decay organisms, dead organisms and waste products-fossils and fossil fuels, animal respiration, root respiration-plant respiration, auto snd factory emissionsH2O: precipitation, ground water, held in soil, run off, evaporation, condensation
Potential for human interference with cycling of matter (carbon, phosphorus and nitrogen cycles)
Burning fossil fuels, increased atmospheric carbon dioxide by 35 % over preindustrial levelsFertilizers containing phosphorus and nitrogen that we add to increase agricultural production is greatly accelerating that natural cycles that causes water pollution and eutrophication (overgrowth of algae and depletion of oxygen)
  Growth curves:Exponential increase  
a population where the rate of growth is proportional to the population, or ever increasing growth, doubling again and again
Growth curves  Logistic growth
a pattern of growth that levels off at the carrying capacity
Carrying capacity
The maximum population of a given species that an ecosystem can support without being degraded or destroyed in the long run
Reproductive strategies
The interplay of biotic potential and enenvironmental resistance drives two different types of reproduction in the natural world, the r-strategists (usually small in size, with huge boom-and-bust populations) and the k-strategists (usually larger and longer lived populations that fluctuate around carrying capacity).
In any relationship in which one organism feeds on another, the organism that does the feeding is called the predator, and the organism that is fed on is called the prey.
Keystone species
A species whose role is essential for the survival of many other species in an ecosystem.
Species often compete for some scarce resource.

This competition can be intraspecific (same species compete with each other) or interspecific (competition between different species).

An arrangement between two species whereby both benefit (Pollinators and the plants they pollinate).
Evolution Selective pressure
An environmental factor that causes individuals with certain traits that are not the norm for the population to survive and reproduce more than the rest of the population. The result is a shift in the genetic makeup of the population (evolution).
An ecological or evolutionary change in structure or function that enables an organism to adjust better to its environment and hence enhances the organism’s ability to survive and reproduce.

Drifting continents
ecosystems formed with their geographic location as the continents drifted.
birds that had similarities to their ancestors but selective pressures regarding food have caused them to evolve into different species
Trophic level
A feeding level defined with respect to the primary source of energy. Green plants are at the first trophic level, primary consumers at the second, secondary consumers at the third, and so on.
Food chains
The transfer of energy and material through a series of organisms as each one is fed upon by the next.

Any organism that can synthesize all its organic substances from inorganic nutrients, using light or certain inorganic chemicals as a source of energy. Green plants are the principal autotrophs (producers).
Any organism that consumes organic matter as a source of energy. Such an organism is said to be heterotrophic (consumers and decomposers).
What is ecological succession and how can fire play a positive role
Ecological succession—The phenomenon of transition from one biotic community to another.            examples: fire, flood, or volcanic lava flow change the physical environment and make room for succession and pioneer species, the first to colonize the new environment. Fire is an abiotic factor environmental factor that has particular relevance to succession
What is biodiversity (levels too)?
Biodiversity is the variety of life on earth, from genes to species, through to the broad scale of ecosystems.”Levels:

  1. Genes—Genetic diversity within a species.
  2. Species—Variety of different species (plant, animal, or microbe).
  3. Ecosystem—Variety of species distributions, community patterns, and ecosystems


How many species have been identified? What are estimates of actual numbers?
2 million species of plants, animals, and microbes have been examined, named, and classified. Most estimates of the total number of species on Earth range from 5 to 30 million!
 What are two ways to value biodiversity? Instrumental value 
A species or individual organism has instrumental value if its existence or use benefits some other entity (by providing food, shelter, or a source of income). This kind of value is usually anthropocentric; that is, the beneficiaries are human beings.

Intrinsic value
Something has intrinsic value when it has value for its own sake; that is, it does not have to useful to us to posses value.
 Examples of valued biodiversity
  Value as sources for food and raw materials,Value as sources for medicines and pharmaceuticals,Recreational, aesthetic, and scientific value, andValue for their own sake (intrinsic value) 
Habitat loss, invasive species, pollution, population growth (human), Overconsumption
What is a hot spot?
a biogeographic region that is both a significant reservoir of biodiversity and is threatened with destruction.
What are people trying to do to stop extinction? What are some success stories (bald eagle, gray wolf)
Conservation biology (captive breeding and tracking devices), taxonomy- cataloging of species and naming new ones (loss of experts in this field), Endangered species act of 1973, listing, critical habitat, recovery plans
What is ecosystem capital and its categories and services?
The sum of goods and services provided by natural and manages ecosystems, both free of charge and essential to human life and well-being.Categories: forests and woodlands, grasslands and savannas, croplands, wetlands, and desert lands and tundra (costal ocean and bays, coral reefs, and open oceans)Services: provisioning, regulating, and cultural
Direct use
instrumental valuing works well when determining the value of provisioning services (direct use of ecosystem capital/natural resources such as timber, fish, crops)
Indirect use
regulating and cultural services are more difficult to put prices on even though we still receive benefits from these services that are essential to human survival, it is on a larger scale (climate regulation, nutrient cycle) and there is a need to think in terms of valuing on an intrinsic level as well as understanding the instrumental value of these ecological services.
Do ecosystem resources benefit all people in all parts of the world similarly?
In a way yes because people use the land and its resources no matter where they are in the world to help them and benefit from it.

Why might wealthy people and wealthy nations not feel the urgency to protect biodiversity? Conversely why might people in a developing nation think it unfair for a wealthy nation to tell them to stop cutting down the rain forest?
They don’t think that certain things come from the earth and how we need them. They don’t think about the destruction that causes ecosystems to be harmed. Because they do the same thing.
The management of a resource in such a way as to assure that it will continue to provide maximum benefit to humans over the long run.
In protecting natural areas, the objective of preservation is to ensure the continuity of species and ecosystems, regardless of their potential utility.
Restoration (ecology)
The branch of ecology devoted to restoring degraded and altered ecosystems to their natural state.
Tragedy of the commons
The overuse or overharvesting and consequent depletion or destruction of a renewable resource that tends to occur when the resource is treated as a commons—that is, when it is open to be used or harvested by any and all with the means to do so.

Maximum sustainable yield
The maximum amount of a renewable resource that can be taken year after year without depleting the resource. That maximum sustainable yield is the maximum rate of use or harvest that will be balanced by the regenerative capacity of the system.
Importance of forest ecosystems (especially rainforests)
the most productive systems the land can support, lush with biodiversity, and self sustaining.Importance of tropical forests: these forests are a storehouse of biological diversity and crucial for marinating Earth’s climate.
Deforestation usually converts the land to what use?
Farm fields
Protected lands
The world database on protected areas recognizes 106,900 “protected areas” (13% of land) sites whose management is aimed at achieving specific conservation objectives.
“To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.” (Leopold, 1949) What did Leopold mean by this statement in regards to wilderness preservation, conservation and restoration?
  To have things be provided over a long period of time, keep species going, and restoring ecosystems to their natural state.