University of Idaho Organisms and Environments  
Precambrian Times, Hadean - Proterozoic Eons Cambrian - Ordovician Periods Silurian - Permian Periods Triassic - Cretaceous Periods Tertiary - Quaternary Periods Evolutionary Timeline
Ecology  
Lecture
 
Lecture
 
Lecture
 

Ecology is defined as the study of the interactions between organisms and their environment (including other organisms). However, ecology also provides great insight into the evolutionary histories of species, and provides contemporary examples of factors that influenced historical evolutionary events.

The distribution of organisms is affected by many factors, but these are generally classified as one of two types: biotic or abiotic factors. The combined effects of these factors define the earth's biomes, or large-scale ecosystems, in which the earth's species live.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand what biotic and abiotic factors are.
  • Comprehend how ecology influences evolutionary pathways.
  • Be able to describe how a rain shadow affects regional precipitation patterns.
  • Understand how biogeography is influenced by evolution, ecology, and geologic history.
  • Be familiar with the general characteristics of several common aquatic and terrestrial biomes.
  • Understand how temperature and light are stratified in certain aquatic and terrestrial biomes.

 

Lecture
 

Behavior refers to an organism's coordinated response to environmental stimuli. Generally, we think of behavior as a characteristic of animals (although it could be argued that other types of organisms also have perhaps simpler forms of behavior). Different types of behavior generally fall into two categories: innate, or genetically controlled, and learned. In this lesson you will learn about different types of animal behavior, but keep in mind also how behavior influences the interactions within ecosystems, and ultimately the evolutionary pathways of different types of organisms.

Learning Objectives

  • Be able to define behavior.
  • Understand the difference between innate and learned behaviors, and give examples of each.
  • Understand the differences between habituation, associative learning and cognitive learning, and be able to give examples of each.
  • Be familiar with different types of social behaviors.

 

Lecture
 

It is important to view ecology not just as interactions between individuals and their environment, but also as interactions between entire populations and their environment. The field of population ecology attempts to discern how environments ultimately affect the life history characteristics of populations. Life history characteristics include such things as migration habits or lack thereof, feeding habits, reproductive strategies, demographics, etc. Population ecology often begins with simple measures of population size and density, but can quickly become complicated when trying to discern all of the factors acting on a population and their relative importance.

Learning Objectives

  • Define the terms 'population' and 'population ecology'.
  • Define 'life history'.
  • Understand the measures of population size and density.
  • Understand K vs. r selection strategies and give actual examples of both.
  • What are 'demographics'?
  • Explain the difference between the exponential and logistical growth models.
  • Describe the concept of an ecological footprint at the individual and population level.

 

Lecture
 
Lecture
 

In ecology, a community is the specific assemblage of species inhabiting an ecosystem. The interactions between the members of a community can take many forms, from predation to mutualism. All of these interactions, however, continue to drive the selective forces which ultimately lead to evolutionary change. In this lesson, you will learn about the basic types of interactions found between species in ecological communities, and how these interactions may influence a community over time.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand what competition is in ecological terms, and how it influences both communities and evolutionary pathways.
  • Understand the concepts of competitive exclusion and resource partitioning.
  • Be able to describe examples of aposematic coloration, Batesian and Mullerian mimicry.
  • Be able to define trophic structure.
  • Describe different types/levels of environmental disturbance, and give examples of each.
  • Be familiar with the concept of environmental succession.

 

Lecture
 

All ecosystems share three things in common: water, energy and inorganic elements. You spent plenty of time learning about water in Biology 115, so we will focus here on energy and inorganic elements. Energy from the sun fuels virtually all ecosystems on our planet - this energy is fixed by photosynthetic organisms and transferred through food webs by herbivory, predation and decomposition. Inorganic elements, however, come from the air and the soil, and are converted into organic compounds using the energy of the sun. In this lesson, we will describe the basic flows of energy and nutrients within and through ecosystems, and how these processes may affect the organism living within an ecosystem.

Learning Objectives

  • Describe how the flow of energy and the flow of nutrients in ecosystems is both similar and different.
  • Be able to describe what primary production is, and what types of factors control primary production in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.
  • Understand the concept of trophic efficiency, and why energy is transferred less efficiently between higher levels of food chains.
  • Describe the nitrogen cycle.
  • Understand how biological magnification works, how it relates to trophic efficiency, and how it can affect organisms at higher levels of food chains.

 

OASIS