What is Ecology.docx

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Biomedical Engineering
BMEN 515
William Huddleston

What is Ecology?  Ecology: scientific study of the rich and varied interactions between organisms and their environment.  Communities: embracing all the organisms living together in the same area  Ecosystems: embracing all organisms in an area plus their physical environment  Biosphere: system that embraces all regions of the planet where organisms live  Environment: encompasses both abiotic and biotic factors How are Climates Distributed on Earth?  Climate of a region is the average of the atmospheric conditions found over a long term.  Weather is the short-term state of those conditions.  Climates vary greatly because different places receive different amounts of solar energy. Solar energy drives global climates  Every place on Earth receives the same total number of hours of sunlight but not the same amount of solar energy; this depends primarily on the angle of sunlight.  Higher latitudes experience greater variation in both day length and the angle or arriving solar energy over the course of a year = greater seasonal variation in temperature.  Air temperature decreases with elevation: when air rises, it expands, its pressure and temperature drop, and it releases moisture; when a parcel of air descends, it is compressed, its pressure rises, its temperature increases, and it takes up moisture.  Global air circulation patterns result from the global variation in solar energy input and from the spinning of Earth on its axis.  Air rises when it is heated by the sun and is replaced by air that flows in toward the equator from the north and south  produces the intertropical convergence zone.  Cool air cannot hold as much moisture as warm air, so heavy rains fall in the intertropical convergence zone.  Air that moves into the intertropical convergence zone to replace the ri and Australian deserts are located here).  ther toward or away from the equator.  At the poles, air descends.  Spinning of Earth on its axis influences surface winds. As air ma
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