Ecology can be defined as the study of plant and animals in relation to their environment.
Ecology is derived from a Greek word oikos which means home or dwelling place. In other words an ecology can be defined as a field of study which deals with the relationship of living organisms with one another and with the environment in which they live. Ecology is often described as an environmental biology.
ECOLOGY IS DIVIDED INTO TWO MAIN BRANCHES:
1. Autecology: Autecology is concerned with the study of an individual organism or a single species of organism and its environment. For example, the study of a single rat and its environment.
2. Synecology: Synecology is concerned with the study of the interrelationships between groups of organism or species of organism living together in an area.
For example the study of different organism or species of organisms in a river in relation to their aquatic environment.
There are some important concepts commonly used in the study of ecology which enable one to understand the subject matter.
Some of the ecological concepts include are:
1. Environment: An environment includes all the factor external and internal, living and non living factors which affect an organism.
2. Biosphere or Ecosphere: The biosphere or ecosphere is the zone the earth occupied by living organism. It is a layer of life which exist on the earth surface. The biosphere is a narrow zone where complex biological cold chemical activities occur.
It can be found on land, soil, water and air.
3. Lithosphere: the lithosphere is the solid portion of the earth it is the outermost later or zone of the earth crust. Is made up of rocks and mineral materials, and it also represents 30% of the earth surface.
4. Hydrosphere: Hydrosphere is the liquid of aquatic part of the earth or living world. It covers about 70% or 2/3 of the earth’s crust. It hold water in various forms-solid (ice) liquide (water) and as gases (water vapour). Example: lake, pools, spring, ocean or sea, ponds, oasis, rivers and streams.
5. Atmosphere: the atmosphere is the gaseous portion of the eat it is a layer of gases surrounding the earth. Over 99% of the atmosphere lies within 30km of the earth surface.
It contains 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, 0.03% carbon dioxide and 0.97 rare or inert gases.
6. Habitat: Habitat is defined as an area occupied by a biotic community. In other words, habitat is any environment in which an organism lives naturally. It is the natural home of organism.
For example: the habitat of the fish is water. The various types of habitats are aquatic habitat (i.e live in water) such as rivers, lakes, ponds, streams, lagoons, seas, ocean and terrestrial habitat (live on land)
e.g Savanna, forest and desert.
7. Biotic community or biome: A biotic community is any naturally occurring group of different organism living together and interacting in the same environment. A biome is the largest community of organisms.
e.g rainforest, guinea savanna e.t.c.
8. Ecological Niche: Ecological niche refers to the specific portion of a habitat which is occupied by a particular species or organism. It is the functional position of an organism with the community.
9. Population: Population is defined as the total number of organism of the same species living together in a given area. For example the total number of Tilapia Fish in pond constitutes the population of Tilapia Fish in that habitat.
10. Ecosystem: an ecosystem refers to a community of plant and animals functioning together with their non-living environment in other words, ecosystem consists of the living factors (plants and animal interacting with the non-living factors in an environment).
COMPONENT OF AN ECOSYSTEM
The ecosystem is made up of two main components. These are: the Biotic (living) components and the Abiotic (non-living) component.
Biotic component: the biotic components include the living things (Plant and Animals) which can be grouped into Producers, Consumers and Decomposers.
1. Producers: producers are autotrophies (Green and some micro-organisms) which can manufacture their own food from-simple inorganic materials, during the process of Photosynthesis and chemosynthesis.
2. Consumer: consumers are the heterophs (Animal and some Plants) which cannot manufacture their own food but depend on plant directly or indirectly for their own food. This may be
Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Consumer
3. Decomposer: decomposer are bacterial and some fungi which break down dead plants and animal in order to feed on them and in the process, nutrient are released to the soil or use by the producers.
Abiotic components: the abiotic components of an ecosystem include the non-living things which include:
1. Climatic factors: like Temperature, Wind, Humidity, Sunlight and Rainfall.
- Inorganic materials and nutrients such as carbon (iv) oxide, oxygen, nitrogen, calcium, phosphate e.t.c.
- Adaptic factors like soil, rocks, topography e.t.c.
- Other factors like dust, storm, fire and water.
INTERACTION AMONG THE COMPONENT OF ECOSYSTEM
There is a unique interaction among the various component of an ecosystem. Green plant use carbon (iv) oxide, water and chlorophyll in the presence of sunlight to produce carbohydrate or starch animals feed on these carbohydrate or plants and release carbon (iv) oxide for plants to take in. micro-organism and other decomposer break down deed plants and other organisms to release nutrients to the soil.
Ecological factors are those factors in the environment which can influence living organism or cause changes in any habitual be it Aquatic or Terrestrial habitat respectively.
ECOLOGICAL FACTORS ARE GROUPED INTO TWO CATEGORIES THESE ARE
Biotic factors and A-biotic factors
The biotic factors are made up of the effects of other plants, animals on a given organism.
1. Climatic Factors
2. Chemical Factors
3. Edaphic Factors
4. Topographic Factors
ECOLOGICAL FACTORS COMMON TO ALL HABITATS
Factors affecting or common to all habitats ( Both Aquatic and Terrestrial habitats) include:
6. Hydrogen ion concentration [PH]
All of these factors above, Temperature and Rainfall determined the major biomes of the world.
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