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32.5: Chapter Summary

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    103865
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    Ecology of Ecosystems

    Ecosystems exist on land, at sea, in the air, and underground. Different ways of modeling ecosystems are necessary to understand how environmental disturbances will affect ecosystem structure and dynamics. Conceptual models are useful to show the general relationships between organisms and the flow of materials or energy between them. Analytical models are used to describe linear food chains, and simulation models work best with holistic food webs.

    Energy Flow through Ecosystems

    Organisms in an ecosystem acquire energy in a variety of ways, which is transferred between trophic levels as the energy flows from the bottom to the top of the food web, with energy being lost at each transfer. The efficiency of these transfers is important for understanding the different behaviors and eating habits of warm-blooded versus cold-blooded animals. Modeling of ecosystem energy is best done with ecological pyramids of energy, although other ecological pyramids provide other vital information about ecosystem structure.

    Biogeochemical Cycles

    Mineral nutrients are cycled through ecosystems and their environment. Of particular importance are water, carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur. All of these cycles have major impacts on ecosystem structure and function. A variety of human activities, such as pollution, oil spills, and other events have damaged ecosystems, potentially causing global climate change. The health of Earth depends on understanding these cycles and how to protect the environment from irreversible damage.


    32.5: Chapter Summary is shared under a CC BY 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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