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Ecology and Biosphere

Biosphere 2 Biosphere 2 Biosphere 2 is an Earth systems science research facility currently owned by the University of Arizona since 2011. The experiments carried out in Biosphere 2 were designed to study the relationship between living things and their environment and to see whether humans might be able to live in space one day. Let's go into details of Ecology and Biosphere.

Learning Objectives

After completing the topic, the student will be able to:

  • Define the term Ecology and analyze how Ecology and environment are related to each other.
  • Illustrate the concepts–richness of biosphere and biological interactions.
  • Explore how Ecology and Evolutionary biology are closely related sciences.
  • Illustrate how environment shapes organisms and how organisms shape the environment.
  • Define, discuss and distinguish the terms–species distribution and dispersal.
  • Define and describe biotic, abiotic factors and biomes.
  • Describe how biotic and abiotic factors influence the structure and dynamics of various biomes.
  • Deduce how the concept of time applies to ecological situations and evolutionary changes.
The richness of the biosphere. The richness of the biosphere. The biosphere supports between 3 and 30 million species of plants, animals, fungi, single-celled prokaryotes such as bacteria, and single-celled eukaryotes such as protozoans. Of this total, only about 1.4 million species have been named so far. Earth is comprised of full of different organisms and species.
Ecology and Biosphere

Scope of Ecology:The scientific study of the interactions between organisms and the environment is called ecology. Because of its great scope, ecology is an enormously complex and exciting area of biology, as well as one of the critical importance.

Ecology reveals the richness of the biosphere‐ the entire portion of Earth inhabited by life‐ and can provide the basic understanding that will help us to conserve and sustain that richness, now threatened more than ever by human activity.

The richness of biosphere is particularly apparent in tropical forests. Earth's tropical forests are home to millions of species, including an estimated 5‐30 million still undescribed species of insects, spiders, and other arthropods. In fact, every part of the biosphere is inhabited by diverse life forms, most of which, especially the microbial species, are unknown to science.

This chapter introduces the science of ecology and describes some of the factors, both living and nonliving, that affect the distribution of organisms. It also surveys the major types of aquatic and terrestrial habitats where organisms live and where ecologists go to study them. The scientific discipline of ecology addresses the full scale of life, from tiny bacteria to processes that span the entire planet.

Biological interaction Example to illustrate biological interaction Pollination illustrates mutualism between flowering plants and their animal pollinators.
Biological interaction

Humans have always had an interest in the distribution and abundance of other organism.As hunters and gatherers, prehistoric people had to learn where game and edible plants could be found in abundance. With the development of agriculture and the domestication of animals, people learned more about how the environment affects the growth, survival, and reproduction of plants and animals. Later, naturalists from Aristotle to Darwin and beyond observed and described organisms in their natural habitats and systematically recorded their observations. Because extraordinary insight can still be gained through this descriptive approach to discovery science , natural history remains a fundamental part of the science of ecology.

In addition to its long history as a descriptive science, ecology is also a rigorous experimental science. Despite the difficulties of conducting experiments in natural environments, ecologists often test their hypotheses through field of experiments. The long‐term research by Gene Likens and his colleagues in the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest is one example.

Other examples of field experiments include studies in which researchers measure the impact of herbivory (plant‐eating) on plant species diversity by comparing open control plots to experimental “exclosures” (An exclosure, in an area being used extensively for grazing, is a limited area from which unwanted animals,for example browsing animals, such as domestic cattle or wildlife, such as deer, are excluded by fencing or other means ) designed to keep out certain herbivore species. Perhaps because of ecology's focus on complex systems that challenge the capacity of scientists to produce consistent results, ecologists have been innovators in the areas of experimental design and the application of statistical inference. We will encounter many examples of ecological experiments throughout this unit.

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