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Ecology Unit 1

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BIOL 2060
Elizabeth Boulding

Unit 1 Introduction to EcologySection 1 1 What is EcologyKey TermsEcology The scientific study of the interactions between organisms and their physical and biological environmentsAbiotic The physical and chemical nonliving aspects of an organisms environmentBiotic The living aspects of an organisms environment ie the other organisms of the same or different speciesNatural History A descriptive enumeration of individual species and the environments in which they occur dealing mainly with the questions what when and whereEnvironmental Studies Study of the environment including the social political and ethical aspects or dimensionsEnvironmentalism A political or advocacy movement especially in politics and consumer affairs that works toward protecting the natural world from harmful human activitiesObjective Without bias or personal opinion based on facts not emotionsSubjective Modified by individual bias rather than based on factsUncertainty The lack of conviction or knowledge about an outcome or resultLearning Objectives1Define ecology and contrast it to natural history environmental studies and environmentalism Ecology is the scientific study of the interations between organisms and their physical and biological environment It is about understanding the mechanisms causing the patterns that occur in the natural world It is broader than from natural history as it incorporates the questions how and why in addition to what when and where Furthermore ecology differs from environmental studies which includes social political and ethical dimensions or with environmentalism ie a political or advocacy movement Ecology results in the gain of objective knowledge and environmental studies apply this gained knowledge with subjective value judgments 2Understand the limits to the science of ecologyEcology is still a young discipline150 years old compared to other sciences Therefore we may not yet understand enough about how individuals populations communities and ecosystems work to provide definitive answersActivity for Additional Learning1Which seven levels of biological organization are studied in ecologyIndividualPopulationCommunityEcosystemLandscapeRegionBiosphere2What is the significance of ecology as a young scientific disciplineBecause ecology is such a young discipline we cannot expect more from the science of ecology than it can give given the length of time it has existed and the complexity of the systems that it is trying to handleHowever this uncertainty is something to be embraced not something to fear and run away fromIt is an invitation to continue to explore the world around usSection 12 Science and the Scientific MethodKey TermsScience An objective logical and repeatable attempt to understand the principles and forces operating in the natural universe it is an ongoing process of testing and evaluating ideas rather than a fixed body of knowledgeScientific method A formal style of study or research in which a problem is identified pertinent information is assembled a hypothesis is advanced and tested empirically and the hypothesis is accepted or rejectedHypothesis A potential reason or explanation for an observed patternPrediction An educated guess of what will be observed if a hypothesis is correct
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