1) First complete the reading guide on your own from the Ecology unit page.
2) Write your response to a question in word and then copy it.
3) Click on the edit button and then go to the appropriate question and paste your answer below it. Sign your contribution with your first name and last initial and TEAM COLOR
4) Scroll to the very bottom and in the Optional comment box, place a summary of what you did and sign it (e.g. "I answered chp 26 question 3" - Tom S.) Then click Save.


  1. What is an ecosystem and why would we study energy flow in relation to the ecosystem? -Mr. V approved (although it would be nice to have brian and Ilian combine their statements into a clear statement) Please check we changed it
An ecosystem is all the living organisms in a community as well as all the biotic and abiotic factors with witch they interact. We would study energy flow in relation to the ecosystem because if we group the species into community Trophic levels of feeding relationships, we can follow the transformation of energy in the environment and map the changes in movement and chemical elements though the biotic factors. ~Ilian DeCorte and Brian Needles

2. Why are detrivores essential to an ecosystem? -Mr. V approved
Detrivores decompose the organic material and transfer the chemical elements in inorganic forms to abiotic reservoirs such as soil, water, and air. This allows producers to recycle the elements into organic compounds that will then by cycled through an ecosystem. ~Ilian DeCorte

3. Define the following terms: -Mr. V approved
Gross primary production
:is the amount of light energy that is converted to chemical energy by photosynthesis per unit time.
Net primary production
:is equal to gross primary production minus the energy used by the primary producers for respiration. ( NPP = GPP – R )
~Ilian DeCorte

4. How do light limitations and nutrient limitations impact primary production? -Mr. V approved
Solar radiation is the driving force for photosynthesis. Depth of light penetration affects primary production throughout photic zones of the ocean and lakes. external image Wfm_pelagic.png
Nutrient limitation is the element that must be added in order for production to increase in a particular area. Without certain nutrients life and chemical processes do not occur.
Stephanie A.
& Sawyer Waugh

5. What is eutrophication and is it considered a “positive” for the a lake environment? -Mr. V approved
Eutrophication is considered a "negative" for a lake environment. When the concentration of a nutrient greatly increases, algae growth increases. When the algae dies, oxygen levels drop and ammonia builds up, making the lake toxic to most other creatures. The increase in concentration of a nutrient can be natural, or the the result of human pollution.

external image River_algae_Sichuan.jpg
Sawyer W

6. What impacts evapotranspiration? -Mr. V approved
Evapotranspiration is the annual amount of water transpired by plants and evaporated from the landscape. This increases with the amount of precipitation in a region and the amount of solar energy available to drive evaporation and transpiration. Martin A Green

external image Evapotranspiration.GIF

7. What is secondary production?
This is the amount of chemical energy in consumers’ food that is converted to their own new biomass during a given time period. Most of the energy consumed is not used or not able to be used. Martin A. Green

8. Why is the energy transfer between trophic levels limited?

external image pyrenergy.gif

The reason why the energy transfer from trophic levels is limited is because some energy is lost through feces while other energy is used for respiration. Along with both of these some energy isn’t consumed by the next trophic level.-Adam A, Green-

9. What is the difference between production efficiency and tropic efficiency? -Mr. V says can you give an example?
Production efficiency is the fraction of energy stored in food that is not used for respiration. Trophic efficiency is the percentage of production transferred from one trophic level to the next.
-Steve W.-

external image 1208805753V4i2p5.jpg
10. What is the green world hypothesis? -Mr. V approved (although i'm pretty skeptical of the green world hypothesis)
The hypothesis that terrestrial herbivores eat only a small amount of plant biomass because they are held in check by parasites, predators, and disease.

-Amanda P.

11. Describe general model of nutrient cycling. -Mr. V approved
yehahh_cylce.jpgBy: Alyssa C.

12. Briefly detail the water cycle. Upload a picture/video of the cycle and explain it. -Mr. V approved

The water cycle is mainly driven by evaporation of liquid water by the sun (solar energy), condensation of water vapor into cloud, and precipitation. Transpiration by terrestrial plants also moves large amounts of water. Surface and groundwater return water to the oceans which completes the cycle. Rising air currents take the water, as vapor, up into the atmosphere, along with water from "evapotranspiration," which is water transpired or "breathed out" from plants and evaporated from the soil. The cooler temperatures in the atmosphere cause it to condense into clouds, which float around until the fall from the sky as precipitation. Some precipitation falls as snow and can accumulate as ice caps and glaciers, where it can stay, as frozen water, for thousands of years. In warmer climates, snow melts during the warmer spring and summer months, and that water flows into streams and rivers, which eventually return it to the ocean, or into the groundwater, which eventually reach underground aquifers. Over time, the water continues flowing, some to reenter the ocean, where the water cycle renews itself.

-Corinne DJ & Keely

13. Briefly detail the carbon cycle. Upload a picture/video of the cycle and explain it. -Mr. V approved


  • Carbon moves from the atmosphere to plants.
    In the atmosphere, carbon is attached to oxygen in a gas called carbon dioxide (CO2). With the help of the Sun, through the process of photosynthesis, carbon dioxide is pulled from the air to make plant food from carbon.
  • Carbon moves from plants to animals.
    Through food chains, the carbon that is in plants moves to the animals that eat them. Animals that eat other animals get the carbon from their food too.
  • Carbon moves from plants and animals to the ground.
    When plants and animals die, their bodies, wood and leaves decay bringing the carbon into the ground. Some becomes buried miles underground and will become fossil fuels in millions and millions of years.
  • Carbon moves from living things to the atmosphere.
    Each time you exhale, you are releasing carbon dioxide gas (CO2) into the atmosphere. Animals and plants get rid of carbon dioxide gas through a process called respiration.
  • Carbon moves from fossil fuels to the atmosphere when fuels are burned.
    When humans burn fossil fuels to power factories, power plants, cars and trucks, most of the carbon quickly enters the atmosphere as carbon dioxide gas. Each year, five and a half billion tons of carbon is released by burning fossil fuels. That’s the weight of 100 million adult African elephants! Of the huge amount of carbon that is released from fuels, 3.3 billion tons enters the atmosphere and most of the rest becomes dissolved in seawater.
  • Carbon moves from the atmosphere to the oceans.
    The oceans, and other bodies of water, soak up some carbon from the atmosphere.

The Carbon Cycle Game!

-Corinne DJ & Keely -Mr. V approves the initiative here :)

14. Briefly detail the nitrogen cycle. Upload a picture/video of the cycle and explain it. -Mr. V approved

The nitrogen cycle. Yellow arrows indicate human sources of nitrogen to the environment. Red arrows indicate microbial transformations of nitrogen. Blue arrows indicate physical forces acting on nitrogen. And green arrows indicate natural, non-microbial processes affecting the form and fate of nitrogen.

Five main processes cycle nitrogen through the biosphere, atmosphere, and geosphere: nitrogen fixation , nitrogen uptake (organismal growth), nitrogen mineralization (decay), nitrification, and dentrification . Microorganisms, particularly bacteria, play major roles in all of the principal nitrogen transformations. As microbially mediated processes, these nitrogen transformations tend to occur faster than geological processes like plate motion, a very slow, purely physical process that is a part of the carbon cycle. Instead, rates are affected by environmental factors that influence microbial activity, such as temperature, moisture, and resource availability.

-Corinne DJ

15. What is the difference between nitrification, denitrification, ammonification and nitrogen fixation? Mr. V approved

Ammonification is when dead remains of animals are broken down by bacteria other fungi and the nitrogen is converted back to ammonium.
Nitrification is when the ammonia is converted back to nitrates. This process is done by soil living bacteria and other nitrifying bacteria.
Denitrification is when the nitrates are reduced back into the nitrogen gas atmosphere, which completes the nitrogen cycle.
Nitrogen Fixation is the process where nitrogen in the atmosphere is converted into ammonia. Many anaerobic bacteria use nitrogen fixation

Jim R

16. Briefly detail the phosphorus cycle – you can write your response or draw a picture. -Mr. V approved (remember - phosphates are used to build DNA and ATP)


17. Imagine you are at the dinner table and are asked to explain what acid rain is and why it is a problem. Write your response here. -Mr. V approved
Acid rain is the result of burning wood, coal, and other fossil fuels to release oxides of sulfur and nitrogen which react with the water in the air. Terrestrial plants die off and thus their main consumers die, and aquatic life such as fish and certain plants can no longer live in their habitat and food chains are dramatically altered which could potentially completely kill off numerous species of plants and animals.
Kim K.: Red Team

Acid rain is caused by the release of sulfer and nitrogen which can react with the air. Eventually, this is realeased onto Earth's surface in the form of acid rain. Acid rain is a problem because the whole earth has been affected and freshwater environments are extremely sensitive to acid rain. This effects the pH level of the water and it can limit or hurt the growth of the organisms living there. Jackie H--Red team

Emily A.-Red Team

18. What is biological magnification and how does it relate to the health warnings given to pregnant women about the consumption of certain fish? -Mr. V approved
Biological magnification is when certain toxins become more concentrated in a successive trophic levels of a food web. This occurs because the biomass at any given trophic level is produced from a much larger biomass ingested from the level below. This is a problem because it causes significant problems including the herring gulls’ incapability to incubate their eggs and subsequent inability to reproduce. Problems like this, if not caught in time, could lead to certain species’ extinction. Kim K: Red Team

Biological magnification is a trophic process in which retained substances become more concentrated with each link in the food chain. The fish near the end of the food chain have higher levels of substances, such as mercury, so they are more harmful to pregnant women than the fish closer to the top of the food chain. Jackie H--Red teamEmlEe\

Emily A.-Red Team