Ecology Affect Essay

1210 words - 5 pages

When asked to consider the term ecology I have to look at what that word is defined as being. The dictionary defines it as, “The branch of biology that deals with the relations of organisms to one another and to their physical surroundings” (online dictionary, 2013). This is a very short definition for something that is comprised of so much once you start thinking about how many things affect an organisms physical surroundings. For this, I will be focusing on energy and chemical cycles, community structure, biodiversity and succession, and how all of these items are a part of ecology.
How does energy play a part in ecology? Everything that we do requires using energy; therefore, there must be a continuous cycle of energy to ensure that functions can continue. When we categorize how things fit in this cycle, we use trophic levels to fit everything together. The first trophic is comprised of organisms that make use of solar energy by means of photosynthesis. Herbivores comprise the second trophic level, using the plants for their energy. Predators make up the third trophic level, gaining energy by eating the herbivores; higher trophic levels are possible if there are higher-level predators in the local ecosystem. Land based ecosystems are usually limited to around five trophic levels, whereas marine ecosystems the number is around seven. Trophic levels are not a one size fits all type of deal, some species can be categorized in many trophic levels, such as humans who are omnivores could comprise several trophic levels. The transfer of energy between these trophic levels is not very efficient, somewhere around 10 percent, which makes decomposers an important element in the energy flow process. Decomposers, recycling organic materials into inorganic materials, which will be used by the first trophic level as nutrients.
Seeing as how every living being is a complex collection of chemicals, it almost goes without saying that a chemical cycle would be extremely important. “The most important biogeochemical cycles affecting ecosystem health are the water, carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus cycles” (Anennburg Learner, 2010). Water is the most obvious of the chemicals that are important to an ecological system. Plants and animals need water to survive, which makes the source of water a clear indicator on how much life can be supported in a given ecosystem. Carbon, which is sometimes referred to as the building block of life because of its four bonds, and its ability to bond. Plants absorb carbon from the air during the process of photosynthesis in plants, and it is a major play in cellular respiration for animals. Nitrogen is a vital part of photosynthesis, and is an indicator of how much plant life can live in a given ecosystem. Even though our atmosphere is approximately 78 percent, nitrogen it does not factor in at all since this nitrogen is unusable by plant life. What makes nitrogen useable is nitrogen fixation. Bacteria in the...

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