Final Exam Study Guide

Final Exam Study Guide - What is the science of Ecology...

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What is the science of Ecology? Ecology is the scientific study of interactions between organisms and their environment. o Public and professional ideas about ecology often differ. Environmental science is an interdisciplinary field that incorporates concepts from the natural sciences (including ecology) and the social sciences (e.g., politics, economics, ethics). The public believe that there is a “ balance of nature ,” where natural systems are stable and tend to return to an original, preferred state after a disturbance, and that each species in nature has a distinct role to play in maintaining that balance. Ecologists recognize that change is an integral part of natural systems and that seemingly random perturbations often play an important role in those systems. o There are Ecological maxims. 1. You can never do just one thing. Organisms interact with their physical environment. As a result, events in nature are connected and what affects one organism or place can affect others as well. 2. Everything goes somewhere. There is no “away” into which waste materials disappear. 3. No population can increase in size forever. There are limits to the growth and resource use of every population, including our own. 4. There is no free lunch. An organism’s energy and resources are finite, and increasing inputs into one function (such as reproduction) results in a tradeoff in which there is a loss for other functions (such as growth). 5. Evolution matters. Organisms evolve or change over time – it is a mistake to view them as static. Evolution is an ongoing process because organisms continually face new challenges from changes in both the living and nonliving components of their environment. 6. Time matters. Ecosystems change over time. When we look at the world as we know it, it is easy to forget how past events may have affected our present, and how our present actions may affect the future. 7. Life would be impossible without species interactions. Species depend on one another for energy, nutrients, and habitat.
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o Ecology is broad in scope. o The scale of an ecological study affects what can be learned from it. When they seek to answer a particular question, ecologists must select the most appropriate dimension, or scale , for collection observations. o Some key terms are helpful for studying connections in nature. Evolution can be defined as a changed in the genetic characteristics of a population over time, or as descent with modification , a process by which organisms gradually accumulate differences from their ancestors. Adaptation is a feature of an organism that improves its ability to survive and reproduce in its environment.
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Final Exam Study Guide - What is the science of Ecology...

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