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3: Ecosystems and the Biosphere

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    Learning Outcomes

    • Describe the basic types of ecosystems on Earth
    • Differentiate between food chains and food webs and recognize the importance of each
    • Describe how organisms acquire energy in a food web and in associated food chains
    • Discuss the biogeochemical cycles of water, carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur
    • Explain how human activities have impacted these cycles

    • 3.1: Energy Flow through Ecosystems
    • 3.2: Biogeochemical Cycles
    • 3.3: Terrestrial Biomes
      There are eight major terrestrial biomes: tropical rainforests, savannas, subtropical deserts, chaparral, temperate grasslands, temperate forests, boreal forests, and Arctic tundra. Biomes are large-scale environments that are distinguished by characteristic temperature ranges and amounts of precipitation. These two variables affect the types of vegetation and animal life that can exist in those areas.
    • 3.4: Aquatic Biomes
      Like terrestrial biomes, aquatic biomes are influenced by a series of abiotic factors. The aquatic medium—water— has different physical and chemical properties than air. Even if the water in a pond or other body of water is perfectly clear (there are no suspended particles), water still absorbs light. As one descends into a deep body of water, there will eventually be a depth which the sunlight cannot reach.
    • 3.5: Chapter Resources

    Thumbnail image - The (a) Karner blue butterfly and (b) wild lupine live in oak-pine barren habitats in North America. This habitat is characterized by natural disturbance in the form of fire and nutrient-poor soils that are low in nitrogen—important factors in the distribution of the plants that live in this habitat. Researchers interested in ecosystem ecology study the importance of limited resources in this ecosystem and the movement of resources (such as nutrients) through the biotic and abiotic portions of the ecosystem. Researchers also examine how organisms have adapted to their ecosystem. (credit: USFWS)

    This page titled 3: Ecosystems and the Biosphere is shared under a CC BY 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Matthew R. Fisher (OpenOregon) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.