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Maine Animal

More Info on Niches and Habitats

Click Here to Read an Article on Limiting Factors in Ecosystems

More Info on Mutualism and the Study of Mutualism

Ban Hunting In Maine
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.

Limiting Factors?-
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.

Click Here to Test Your Knowledge of Niches

Symbiotic Relationships-
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 harmed.

Animal Diversity-
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-
Abiotic Factors are the non living factors in an ecosystem that affect the 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-
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 disease.

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