The organisms in a community use diverse sources of energy.doc

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Department
Biomedical Engineering
Course Code
BMEN 515
Professor
William Huddleston

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The organisms in a community use diverse sources of energy • A trophic level consists of the organisms whose energy source has passed through the same number of steps to reach them. • Plants and other photosynthetic organisms constitute a trophic level called photosynthesizers or primary producers. The produce energy rich organic molecules that nearly all other organisms consume. • Heterotrophs consume the energy-rich organic molecules produced by primary producers. • Organisms that eat plants constitute a trophic level called primary consumers. • Organisms that eat herbivores are called secondary consumers. • Organisms that eat the dead bodies of organism or their waste products are called detritivores or decomposers. • Organisms that obtain their food from more than one trophic level are called omnivores. Many species are omnivores; trophic levels are often not clearly distinct. • Biomass: the weight of living matter. • Distributions of energy and biomass for a particular ecosystem usually have similar shapes. Variations in their dimensions depend on the nature of the dominant organism at each trophic level and how they allocate their energy. • In most terrestrial ecosystems, photosynthetic plants dominate. • Relative to the biomass of plants, the biomass of herbivores is larger in grasslands than in forests. • In most aquatic ecosystems, the dominant photosynthesizers are bacteria and protists which have such high rates of cell division that a small biomass of photosynthesizers can feed a much larger biomass of herbivores, which grow and reproduce more slowly (inverted distribution of biomass). • Detritivores transform detritus into free mineral nutrients that can again be taken up by plants. If there were no detritivores, nutrients would eventually be tied up in dead bodies, where they would be unavailable to plants. What Processes Influence Community Structure • Interactions of organism with one another: o Predation or parasitism: interactions in which one participant is harmed, but the other benefits (+/- interactions). o Competition: interactions in which two organisms use the same resources and those resources are insufficient to supply their combined needs (-/- interactions). o Mutualism: interactions in which both participants benefit (+/+ interactions). o Commensalism: interactions in which one participant benefits but the other is unaffected (+/0 interactions). o Amensalism: interactions in which one participant is harmed but the other in unaffected (0/- interactions). • These influence the population densities of species. • May also restrict the range of environmental conditions under which species can persist. • If there were no predators or pathogens, most species would be able to persist under a broader array of abiotic conditions that they do in the presence of other species. • Presence of mutualists may increase the range of physical conditions under which a species can persist. Predation and parasitism are universal • Predation and parasitism are universal processes. • Predators are typically larger than and live outside the bodies of their prey. • PREDATOR AND PREY POPULATIONS OFTEN OSCILLATEL growth of a predator population nearly always lags behind growth in its prey population.
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