|What is Ecology?
Ecology is the branch of biology that deals with the relations
of organisms to one another and to their physical surroundings. The
study of interactions that occur between organisms and their environment.
Bascially it is the study of life on Earth.
What is an Ecosystem?
An ecosystem is a biological community of interacting organisms
and their physical environment. All the living and non living things
that interact with each other.
Ecosystem my Animal is Found in-
My animal is found in woodlands, coastal areas, lakes, rivers,
and ponds. The River Otter is also found in other aquatic ecosystems.
Even though it lives in the water it spends 2/3’s of its time on land
or underground. The River Otter populates most of the US and Canada,
excluding Hawaii. In Maine, the River Otter is found specifically on
Mount Desert Island.
There are a lot of things that could easily prevent an animal
from living in a specific habitat, and these things are called Limiting
Factors. These include introduction of an alien species, too many predators,
temperature (climate), water, and competition for food, water, and living
spaces. In the ecosystem the River Otter is found in the limiting factors
are loss of land, pollution, and competition for living space and food.
Niche, What's That?-
Yes, what is a Niche, that's probably what you are wondering.
A niche is how an organism survives, including its habitat, and how it obtains
food and shelter. It is different from a habitat because it is how
the animal gets food, how the animal survives, and how it finds shelter.
An example is that a river otter hunts for its food under water with
the help of its keen eyesight and long whiskers.
Here to Test Your Knowledge of Niches
There are three types of symbiotic relationships that I am going
to describe: One is Mutualism. Mutualism is a symbiotic relationship
in which both species benefit. Two is Commensulism. Commensulism
is a symbiotic relationship in which one species benefits and the other
is not affected. The third is parasitism. Parasitism is a
symbiotic relationship in which one species benefits and the other is
The Diversity of Animals in an ecosystem is very important because
all of the species depend on one another to survive. If we didn't
have any giraffes what would feed the lions? Same as Human diversity
is important Animal Diversity can actually decide whether an animal lives
or whether it dies. Another example is let's say we had an ecosystem
that was filled with Lions, and had a very low unstable population of
antelopes, eventually when the antelope population dies out the lions
will have no food left and start to turn on each other, some will starve
to death, and others will attempt to migrate away, but as we can see Animal
Diversity is the glue that holds the most successful ecosystems together.
Abiotic Factors are the non living factors in an ecosystem that
survival chances for an organism in that ecosystem. Abiotic Factors
include: Water availability, sunlight, temperature range, landscaping
(the way a piece of land is, i.e., rocky, flat, aquatic, grassy, open,
secluded, cramped, etc.) aka geographical terrain, pH level, pollutant
level, light intensity, oxygen availability, and exposure. These
factors are all equally important to an animal and how it survives. If
there isn't enough water in an ecosystem a river otter would have a hard
time surviving and would be forced to move to another area.
Biotic factors are all the living things or their materials that
directly or indirectly affect an organism in its environment.
Biotic Factors include: parasitism (parasites), predatation, and
Adaptation is the change by which an organism or species becomes
better suited to its environment. Examples: A owl has
silent flight to help it not be heard by its prey while flying,
superb eyesight which helps it spot prey when it is flying at nighttime,
sharp beak and talons, makes it easier for the owl to destroy and consume
its prey. A river otters adaptations are its whiskers which help them
feel their prey underwater and there eyesight helps them better spot their
prey on and off land. Plants have adaptations too. An example
is that leaves and pieces of grass have thin layers protecting their interior.
This adaptation helps protect the cells, and chlorophyl that is
located inside a plant.
How Do Animals Relate to One Another?-
Animals relate to one another just like we do. They
use a variety of different noises and they also communicate through touch,
feel, scent, sound and taste just like we do. Some animals only
use a couple of the Five senses and others use all, but more importantly
the fact that animals relate and communicate with one another is astounding.
Sometimes animals even try to communicate with us and we know what
they are feeling/sensing. An example is when a domestic house cat is
purring we therefor know that they are happy and content. When a domestic
house cat has its back arched and is hissing we then know it is about to
attack and is warning you to go away.
Biodiversity is how many different types of animals
can live in an ecosystem. The more diverse the better. Animals
need to be introduced to other species they can depend on and if there
is only a limited amount and types of species in an ecosystem animals
learn only to depend on those. What would happen if a species was
devastated in an ecosystem like that? All species would suffer,
but if there had been a variety of different animals that they could depend
on the entire ecosystem wouldn't be hit as bad.
Oxford American Dictionaries copyright: 2005
By: Erika Joyce