|CA GR.9-12 6.a.|
Before we discuss biodiversity, we should review what Ecology is:
ECOLOGY – is the study of the natural environment and of the relations of organisms to each other and to their surroundings.
When we talk about the environment, we mean everything external to a living organism.
Two words we are going to use a lot are when talking about ecology and ecosystems are:
Biodiversity or biological diversity is the diversity of life, which is what we are going to concentrate on right now. The diversity of species and genes in ecological communities affects the functioning of these communities.
The term biodiversity refers to the variety of plants, animals, and other life forms that live in an ecosystem. Scientists study biodiversity because it tells them about the health and stability of an ecosystem.
An ecosystem is a combination of all the living and non-living elements of an area. It is made up of all the living (such as plants, animals, and people) and non-living (such as topography, climate, and water) elements in a particular area.
The earth itself is the largest ecosystem, but an ecosystem can also be as small as a patch of soil. Regardless of an ecosystem’s size, each element interacts with all the others. An ecosystem is a connected web of relationships. It is stated that cell for cell, planktonic algae fix more solar energy and manufacture more protoplasm than plants on the land. Not bad for such a small organism.
For example, the climate and topography of an area determine the type of plants that live there. At the same time, the plants that grow in an area can influence which kinds of animals live there.
How do you interact with the ecosystem that you live in?
The earth is home to many different types of living organisms. Keep in mind that while some organisms in an ecosystem are obvious like people or trees, there are also smaller organisms like worms and mushrooms and even microscopic organisms like bacteria. There are 1.5 million to 5 million species that are identified and estimated on the Earth today.
When an ecosystem is healthy, many different types of organisms can live there. Unhealthy ecosystems, like one that is polluted, have a much lower biodiversity. It is estimated that 40% of the total net major productivity of the terrestrial environment is used or wasted in some way by humans.
LEVELS OF ORGANIZATION IN ECOLOGICAL SYSTEMS
We are going to review the major ecosystems on earth:
Temperate Deciduous Forest
Each of these different types of ecosystems is going to have its own biodiversity of plants, animals, and other life forms that live in that ecosystem. The survival depends on the diversity of the ecosystem to be able to sustain the living and nonliving.
The number of different organisms in an ecosystem is called biodiversity. Increased biodiversity raises the stability of the ecosystem. Biodiversity also ensures the availability of diverse genetic material that may lead to future discoveries, or the possible survival of species’. As diversity in an ecosystem is lost, the potential chance of a loss of species is increased. A greater diversity of species provides for variations, which increases the chance that at least some living things, plant and animal, will survive in the face of large changes in the environment.
Experiments for Home and Classroom
You can try these desert experiments at home. You can create a mini-pond at
home and grow your own algae, see how cyanobacteria grow mostly in the warm,
upper layers of a lake or see how warm temperatures speed up bacterial
growth. Desert plants grow better in the heat than plants imported from
colder places. See how plants require the right temperature in order to
grow. A little bit of air or water, pollution goes a long way. Find out how.
Here are 12 ecology-related experiments for you to try:
Build a small ecosystem and make a mold terrarium, watch tiny blue, green
and white plants grow on leftover food.