Environmental Science Chap 3

Tropical Rain forests: importance, threats to, consequences of loss?

The tropical rainforests cover about 2% of the world and yet contain more than 50% of the known plants and animal species. These forests are being cut down to make room for expansions , cattle ranching, and palm oil farming. Rainforests contain our medici

Levels of organization studied by ecologists, and characteristics of each.

Organism- any form of life. composed of one or more cells.
Species- groups together organisms similar to each other in appearance, behavior, chemistry, and genetic makeup.
population-a group of interacting individuals of the same species occupying a speci

Prokaryotic vs. eukaryotic cell lines: what are similarities and differences?

Prokaryotic are very simply, mainly bacteria.
Eukaryotic cells are more complex and basically every other life form. Fungi, animals, plants, protists.

Habitat and distribution or range: what do these refer to?

Habitat is the place where a population or individual lives. It's distribution or range is the area which a species may be found.


the thin membrane of air surrounding the planet.


Earth's water, found in liquid water, ice, and water vapor.


the crust and upper mantle of the Earth's soil. Contains nonrenewable fossil fuels, minerals, and soil.


includes most of the hydrosphere, parts of the lower atmosphere and upper lithosphere. All parts of biosphere are interconneted.

What are the 3 interconnected factors that sustain life on earth?

Solar energy, nutrient cycles, and gravity.
1. the one way flow of solar enrgy through living things (as they eat) produces low-quality energy (heat). Energy cannot be recycled
2. matter cycles through parts of the biosphere- water, carbon, nitrogen
3. gr

What are biomes? Aquatic life zones? and ecotones?

Biome: areas such as deserts, grasslands, and rainforests
Aquatic Life Zones: describe the many different areas found within a water environment such as freshwater or coral reefs.
Ecotones: The biomes with high density of life such as an estuary, rainfore

Biotic vs. Abiotic factors in ecosytems and examples of each.

Abiotic: nonliving rocks water, air
Biotic: living forms: animals plants, prokaryotics.

Range of tolerance and limiting factors?

Range of tolerance: The distribution of a species in an ecosystem is determined by the levels of one or more physical or chemical factors being within the range tolerated by that species.
Limiting factors: when too much or too little of any abiotic factor

Trophic levels in an ecosystem: what are they? how are they organized? what do we call organisms in each level?

Feeding levels for organisms within an ecosystem.
1. Producers
2. Primary consumers
3. secondary consumers
4, decomposers and detrivores

Food chains vs. food webs?

food chains: the sequence of organisms as they are eaten. represneted by looking at trophic levels.
food webs: complex networks of interconnected food chains. Made of life's interdependence.

What is ecological efficiency and how is it calculated? How is it related to trophic levels?

Ecological efficiency: The term that describes the percentage of usable energy transferred as biomass from one trophic level to another and ranges from 2% to 40% with 10% being typical. Calculated: The greater the number of trophic levels the greater the

What is biomass?

The tissue that makes up an organism.

What is a pyramid of energy flow and what does it look like graphed? What are the consequences for organisms such as carnivores and omnivores?

The pyramid of energy flow visualizes the loss of usable energy through a food chain. Carnivores lose much more usable energy at their trophic level because it takes more to support those organisms.
Omnivores take less usable energy to support and therefo

What are NPP vs. GPP and how do they differ? What are the most productive terrestrial and aquatic systems on Earth and why are they so productive?

NPP: the rate at which producers use photosynthesis to store biomass minus the rate which they use energy for aerobic respiration. Measures how fast producers can provide biomass needed by consumers in an ecosystem.
GPP: the rate of an ecosystem's produce

What is Biogeochemical cycle and why is it important? How would you describe it?

Global cycling systems that interconnect all organisms. Nutrient atoms, ions, and molecules continuously cycle between air, water, rock, soil, and living organisms.

What are the main steps of the Hydrologic Cycle and why is it important?

1. Evaporation
2. transportation
3. condensation
4. precipitation
5. infiltration/percolation
Collects, purifies, and distributes the earth's water.

Carbon Cycle: photosynthesis/ cellular respiration role, oceans role, how humans affect.

Co2 circulation through the biosphere. Important temperature regulator on earth. Carbon recycles through the oceans, they act as carbon sinks but when warming occurs they realease carbon dioxide. Humans have almost used up all fossil fuels which carbon ha


Recycled by different types of bacteria
Converts nitrogen into nutrients for plants and animals


used in fertilizer to promote plant growth

What is baseline data?

Physical and chemical conditions in order to determine how well the ecosystem is functioning in order to anticipate and determine how best to prevent harmful environmental changes.
Comparing the beginning of an experiment to where you are now, it helps fi

Why are natural ecosystems unsustainable?

They rely on perpetual solar energy and nutrient cycling