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2012-01-30 23:40:42
Environmental Biology

Chapters 1-4
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  1. Sustainability
    a system or process that can be continued indefinitely, without depleting any of the material or energy resources required to keep it running
  2. Sustainable Yield Species
    harvested (such as crops, trees, fish, etc.) are able to reproduce faster than required in order to keep populations stable while a large percentage is utilized for consumption purposes
  3. Ecology
    Study of all processes influencing the distribution and abundance of organisms and the interactions between and among living things
  4. Biotic
    the living part of a community (Plants, animals, microbes, etc.)
  5. Abiotic
    Factors of the chemical and physical environment (non-living) including moisture, temperature, light, wind, pH, soil, salinity, etc.
  6. Species
    Members of a specific biotic group similar in appearance and able to produce fertile offspring
  7. Populaiton
    all members of a specific biotic group that occupy a given area
  8. Association
    plant community with a recognized composition and uniform habitat and growth parameters
  9. Ecosystem
    Dynamic complex of biotic community interacting with abiotic factors within an explicit space
  10. Landscape
    a group of interacting ecosystems
  11. Biomes
    a distinct type of biotic community supported and limited by certain abiotic environmental factors (more extensive than an ecosystem in breadth and complexity
  12. The 6 Major Biomes:
    Deserts, Grasslands/prairies, tropical rain forests, temperate forests, coniferous forests, tundra
  13. Biosphere
    All species and abiotic factors functioning as one unified ecosystem
  14. Ecotone
    Transition zone between ecosystems- sharing many species between the two systems
  15. Organic material
    Materials that make up the bodies of living or once living organisms (differnet than organic compounds or organic food)
  16. Inorganic material
    Materials that are made up of non-living or currently decaying organisms
  17. Autotrophs
    Self feeding organisms (photosynthetic plants and bacteria and chemosynthetic bacteria; also called) that are classified as "producers" since they produce their own organic material from inorganic constituents in the enviornment through the use of external energy source
  18. Heterotrophs
    consumers and detritus feeders of organic materials to derive their energy
  19. Detritus feeders
    organisms that consume non-living organic material (fecal matter, dead leaves, dead animals, etc.), such as earthworms, ants, termites, and wood beetles
  20. Decomposers
    Specific type of detritus feeder (fungi and bacteria) that rot organic materials through secretion of digestive enzymes
  21. Herbivores
    primary consumers that feed exclusively on plants
  22. Omnivors
    consumers that feed on both plants and animals
  23. Carnivores
    Secondary consumers that feed exclusively on other consumers
  24. Parasites
    Consumers that associate with another organism and feed off of it over an extended period of time
  25. Habitat
    kind of place a species is adapted to live
  26. Ecological Niche
    Refers to what, where, when animals feed and find shelter and how they respond to abiotic factors
  27. Resilience
    in many cases, ecosystems or species within ecosystems have the ability to avoid detrimental impacts or even benefit from disturbances
  28. Carrying Capacity
    Maximum population that a given habitat can support without the habitat being degraded over time
  29. Easter Island case study
    Poor management of resources (FIRST trees, which led to water, soil) and an absence of environmental sustainability led to the fall of the civilization
  30. Sound Science
    understanding how the world works and how humans interact with it
  31. Sustainability
    the goal we should be working toward. a system or process that can be continued indefinitely, without depleting any of the material or energy resources required to keep it running
  32. Stewardship
    managing natural resources and human well-being for the common good
  33. What are the 4 main resources being depleted:
    • 1. Groundwater supplies
    • 2. Agricultural soils
    • 3. Overfishing the oceans
    • 4. Cutting forests faster than they can be regrown
  34. Which three sectors are responsible for 50% of jobs worldwide and 70% of jobs in sub-Saharan Africa, eastern Asia, and the Pacific Islands?
    Agriculture, Fishing, Forestry
  35. In your opinion, should we be cautious when enacting laws that hurt these sectors (Agriculture, fishing, forestry) even through the purpose of the law is to benefit society?
    Yes, because hurting these sectors would aslo hurt people economically and socially as well as environmentally. From an economic standpoint, significantly depleting natural capital of the ecosystem may result in economic growth in the short term, but result in long-term financial instability that extends to all sectors of the population. Environmental sustainability is the safest method of ensuring the perpetuation of a sound economy and society.
  36. What is the Kyoto Treaty?
    166 nations met in Kyoto, Japan in 1997 to negotiate a treaty to reduce emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. Most of the countries agreed to reduce emissions by the year 2012. The United States and Russia withdrew however, justifying their resignation on the basis of unequal treaty requirements
  37. Sustainability
    a property whereby a process can be continued indefinitely without depleting the energy or material resources on which it depends
  38. Sustainable yield
    the taking of a biological resource (e.g. fishes, forests) that does not exceed the capacity of the resource to reproduce and replenish itself
  39. Sustainable society
    a society that functions in a way so as not to deplete the energy or material resources upon which it depends. such a society interacts with the natural world in ways that maintain existing species and ecosystems
  40. Ecosystem capital
    the sum of goods and services provided by natural and managed ecosystems, both free of charge and essential to human life and well-being
  41. What is the mechanism of global warming (what chemical compound is of biggest concern and why)?
    Carbon Dioxide; carbon dioxide poses the greatest concern to the future of the environment due to its chemical composition and behavior in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide gas is transparent to incoming light from the Sun, but it absorbs infrared enrgy (heat) radiated from Earth's surface, thus slowing the loss of this energy to space. The absorption of infrared energy by CO2 warms the lower atmosphere in a phenomenon known as the greenhouse effect. the sun radiates solar energy on earth. the larger part of this energy (45%) is radiated back into space. Greehouse gases in the atmosphere contribute to global warming by adsorption and reflection of atmospheric and solar energy. This natural phenomenon is what we call the greenhouse effect.
  42. "Some disturbances can become so profound that they can overcome normal resilience mechanisms and create an entirely new and far less useful ecosystem (in terms of ecosystem capital). the new ecosystem may have its own pathological resilience mechanisms, which may resist restoration"
    "Some disturbances can become so profound that they can overcome normal resilience mechanisms and create an entirely new and far less useful ecosystem (in terms of ecosystem capital). the new ecosystem may have its own pathological resilience mechanisms, which may resist restoration"
  43. What is the scientific method?
    the process of making observations and logically integrating those observations into a model of how the world works. often involves observations, forming hypotheses from observations, experimenting, and conducting further testing for confirmation
  44. What is junk science?
    infromation presented as valid science but unsupported by peer-reviewed research. often, politically motivated and biased results are selected to promote a particular point of view. (ex: picking and choosing only results supporting your idea, politically motivated distrotions of infromation, publication fo results in unreviewed books or journals)
  45. What is the percentage of ecosytems that are being unsustainably degraded according to Millennium Ecosystem Assessment?
  46. Six Major Biomes:
    Deserts, Grasslands and Prairies, Tropical Rain forests, Temperate Forest, Deciduous Forests, Tundra
  47. Five Major ecosystems are:
    • 1. coastal/ marine systems
    • 2. Freshwater systems
    • 3. agricultural lands
    • 4. grasslands
    • 5. forests
  48. it has been suggested that the destruction of the Mayan, Greek, Inca, and Roman civilizations was largely or entirely due to them not recognizing the constraints of their environment. in your opinion, do you believe that there were other factors that lead to their downfall? what were they?
    Both civil and external war weakened the stability of the ancient civilizaitons. Many of these great empires also experienced rapid geographical and populaiton growth that exceeded the ability of the government to effectiviely resond to the growin needs and rising concerns. corruption of officials, divided loyalties (decentralized authority) and the decay of legal and moral restraints may have also contribute to the downfall of these ancient nations. some scholars attribute the decline of these historic societies in part to the rise of certain religions, such as Christianity. Some believe that the emergence of these sprouting theologies created conflicts of interest and detracted from a primary loyalty to established government. Some of the religious practices such as human and animal sacrifice may have eventally contributed to ultimate societal decay
  49. Capitalism vs. centrally planned economy (socialism/ communism):
    A centrally planned economy is characteristic of socialism/ communism, and the free-market ecconomy is characteristic of democracies. in a free market economy, the market itself determines what will be exchanged. Goods and services are offered in a market that is free from governmetn interference and completely open to competition. the free market economic system is thought to be at its best when left completely alone. in a centrally planned economy, the rulers make all the basic decisions regarding what and how much will be produced where and by whom. the government owns most industries and the workers often lack the freedom to choose or change jobs.
  50. Natural capital
    the natural assets and services they perform. one form of the wealth of a nation is its complement of natural capital.
  51. Summarize major charateristics of carbon, phosphorus, and nitrogen cycles:
    Nutrient, Major Source, Interesting Feature, Human Impact
    • Carbon- Air- Taken directly by plant leaves- Burning fuel moves it to air from underground
    • Phosphorus- Rock- No atomospheric component- fertilizer use adds it to waterways
    • Nitrogen- Soil- Bacteria drive cycle- fertilizer moves it to soil, burning moves it to air
  52. Law of Conservation of Matter
    the law stating that, in chemical reactions, atoms are neither created nor changed nor destroyed; they are only rearranged
  53. Six key elements in living things:
    Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Sulfur.
  54. Animals can also requrie intake of:
    amino acids, vitamins, and various other mineral nutrients (chromium, iodine, sodium, and possilby arsenic, boron, and sillicon).
  55. What percentage does Nitrogen, oxygen, and remaining gases make up in the atmosphere?
    Nitrogen gas (N2) composes 78% of the atmosphere, oxgen gas contributes 21% and the remaining 1% is a combination of carbon dioxide and other inert gases, which have no biological importance
  56. Water vapor percentage varies greatly from a trace over deserts to about 4% over oceans. in general, oxygen and nitrogen make up 99% and trace gases make up the remaining 1% which include the noble gases and the greenhouse gases. what are the noble and greenhouse gases?
    • Nobel: Argon, neon, helium, krypton, xenon
    • Greenhouse (in order of highest to lowest concentration): water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, chlorofluorocarbons.
  57. The elements essential to life (CHONPS) are present in the atmosphere, hydrosphere or lithosphere in relatively simple molecules. in living organisms of the biosphere, these elements are organized into highly complex organic compounds.
    Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Sulfur
  58. The Universe is made up of which two things?
    Matter and Energy
  59. 1st & 2nd Thermodynamic laws; also, "... energy flows in a one-way direction through ecosystems; it is not recycled, so it must be continually resupplied by sunlight."
    • 1st Law of Thermodynamics: the empirical observation that energy is never created nor destroyed but may be converted from one form to another
    • 2nd Law: the empirical observaiton that in every energy conversion, some of the energy is converted to heat and some heat always escapes from the system because it always moves toward a cooler place. Essentially, every conversion of energy increases the entropy (disorder) of the universe. (you can never break even)
  60. Entropy
    Entropy is a measure of the degree of disorder in a system, so increasing entropy means increasing disorder. Without energy inputs, everything goes in one direction only-toward increasing entropy.
  61. In general, do organic molecules have higher or lower potential energy than inorganic molecules? which are more likely to be flammable? Why?
    Organic molecules genergally have higher potential energy than inorganic molecules and, as a result, are more likely to be involved in combustion. Most inorganic compounds, such as CO2 and water, are nonflammable because they have a very low PE. thus, the production of organic material from inorganic material represents a gain in potential energy.
  62. Organically Certified products
    Organic agriculture is an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. it is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on managemetn practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony. Organic products are manufactured without the use of additives, artificial ingredients or irradiation.
  63. Energy
    the capacity of a physical system to perform work
  64. kinetic energy
    the energy of motion
  65. Potential energy
    stored energy
  66. Oxidation
    the combination of a substance with oxygen a reaction in which the atoms in an element lose electrons and the valence of the element
  67. Fermentation
    the breakdown of sugar into an acid or alcohol
  68. Upwelling
    an oceanographic phenomenon that involves wind-driven motion of dense, cooler; and usually nutrient-rich water towards the ocean surface, replacing the warmer, usually nutrient-depleted surface water
  69. Euphotic zone
    an area of water where light penertrates so that photosynthesis can occur
  70. Nitrogen cascade
    leeching of nitrogen, plants and soil cannot absorb the nutrients, so the nitrogen goes into water sources
  71. Species
    all of the organisms of a single kind
  72. Genus
    a major subdivision of family in the classification of organisms
  73. Matter
    any gas, liquid or soid that occupies space and has mass
  74. Atom
    the fundamental unit of all elements
  75. Element
    a substance that is made up of one and only one kind of atom
  76. Molecule
    the smallest unit of two or more atoms forming a compound
  77. Compound
    any substance (gas, liquid, solid) that is made up of two or more kinds of atoms bonded together
  78. Hydrogen bonding
    a weak attractive force that occurs between a hydrogen atom of one molecule and another atom (usually an oxygen) of another molecule
  79. Mineral
    any hard, brittle, stone-like material that occurs naturally in teh earth's crust
  80. inorganic
    all compounds that do no include carbon as an integral part of their structure
  81. Organic compounds (chemical)
    all compoudns that include carbon as an integral part of their structure
  82. natural organic compounds
    any organic compound that occurs naturally in nature
  83. synthetic organic compounds
    any organic compoudn that is "synthesized" or recreated by man
  84. Covalent
    the sharing of a pair of electrons holds the atoms together in what is called a covalent bond. Covalent bonding leads to discrete units of two or more atoms bonded together. Units of 2 or more covalently bonded atoms are called molecules. Carbon has the ability to form 4 covalent bonds. Covalent bonding produces all natural organic molecules, which make up living things. Only a few elements have configurations fo electrons that lend themselves readily to the formation of covalent bonds
  85. Ionic
    another way in which atoms may achieve a stable electron configuration is to gain additional electrons to compete the filling of an orbital or lose excess electrons in an incomplete orbital. in general, the max number of electrons gaind or lost is 3. unlike covalent bonding, ionic bonding does not lead to discrete molecules
  86. R-strategists
    advantage if less stable environment, smaller size, shorter life span, younger reproductive age, more offspring, little or no parental care, and wild fluctuations in population stability
  87. K-strategists
    advantage if more stable envrionment, larger size, longer life span, older reproductive years fewer offspring long and involved parental care and mostly stable population
  88. Predation, Competition, Mutualism, Commensalism, Amensalism
    Predation (+,-), Competition (-,-) Mutualism (+,+) commensalism (+,0) amensalism (0,-)
  89. Density Independent vs. Density Dependent population limits:
    a density dependent limit is one that increases as population density increases-such as a disease or food shortage. conversely, as population density decreases, the environmental resistance lessens, allowing the population density decreases, the environmental resistance lessens, independent of the crowding of the population. A sudden deep freeze in spring, for example, or a fire are examples of this type of environmental resistance.
  90. Critical Number
    the minimum number of individuals of a given species that is required to maintain a healthy, viable population of teh species. if a population falls below its critical number, it will almost certainly become extinct.
  91. Isle Royale and St. Mathews case studies- predator/prey & Plant herbivore dynamics:
    • Isle Royale is an example that demonstrates the relationship between predator and prey in teh context of environmental resistance. Fewer wolves represent low environmental resistance and resulted in an increase in the moose population. More wolves, on the other hand, means higher predation on the moose and results in a lower moose population.
    • St Mathews is an example illustrating plant-herbivore dynamics. Reindeer on the predator-free island experienced a population boom. Overgrazing lichens, a main food source, exceeding carrying capacity and lack of natural predators resulted in teh starvation and ultimate crash of the reindeer population. This case study highlights the important check and balance effect predators have on the ecosystem and on other species in particular
  92. Keystone species
    a species whose roel is essential for the survival of many other species in an ecosystem
  93. Inter- vs. Intra-specific competition
    interspecific competition is competition for resources between members of two or more species. Intraspecific competition, in contrast, is competition for resources between members of the same species
  94. Commensalism
    commensalism is a relation between two species in which one is benefited and the other is not affected. (African buffalo and bird example)
  95. Three Alternatives when a species faces selective pressure
    • 1) Adaption: The population of survivors may gradually adapt to teh new condition through natural selection
    • 2) Migration: the surviving population may migrate and find an area where conditions are suitable
    • 3) Extinction: Failing the first two possibilities, extinction is inevitable
  96. Symbiosis, Parasites, & Mutualism; Synergistic effects
    Symbiosis is the intimate living together or association of 2 kinds of organisms. Parasitism is a subset of predation, one organism benefits and the other is harmed. Mutualism is a close relationship between 2 organisms from which both derive a benefit.
  97. Plate tectonics impacted evolution of species?
    it is widely believed that plate tectonics (a theory espoused by Alfred Wegener) contributed to the diversity of species by means of natural selection and modification. The evolution of unique, endemic biota was a product of introduction to new climates, landscape, co-existing species, reproductive isolation and other relevant environmental factors.
  98. What is the overall message of the book?
    "Combinations of private enterprise and governmetn policies have the potential to protect ecosystem capital and make it a profitable enterprise."
  99. The Three spheres of sustainability:
    Socially desirable, Economically Feasible, Ecologically Viable. leads to Sustainable solutions
  100. Photosynthesis:
    • (low PE) (high PE)
    • 6CO2 + 6H2O + light --> C6H12O6 + 6O2 + 6H2O
  101. Cellular Respiration:
    • (high PE) (low PE)
    • C6H12O6 + 6O2--> 6CO2 + 6H2O + energy
  102. Chlorophyll
    absorbs kinetic energy of light and uses it to remove the hydrogen atoms from water molecules
  103. Enzymes
    are proteins that promote the synthesis or breaking of chemical bonds (they speed up reactions)
  104. 3 purposes of Glucose
    • Glucose can be the Backbone/ structure used for making all other organic molecules that compose the plant
    • Energy used to fuel cell activities. it is obtained via cell respiration
    • A portion of the glucose produced may be stored for future use
  105. Difference in energy source for producers and consumers
    Producers (primarily green plants) make high PE organic molecules for their needs from low PE raw materials in teh environment. This "uphill" conversion is possible due to the ability of chlorophyll to absorb light energy. Consumers, on the other hand, obtain energy for movement and growth from feeding on and breaking down organic matter made by producers.
  106. 60-90% of food that consumers eat and digest acts as "fuel" to provide energy to move around; 10-40% for growth, maintenance, & repair of living tissues; some is lost as fecal waste (mostly cellulose or fiber). Importance of fiber in the diet?
    Helps ensure regular bowel movements, lowers blood cholesterol levels, aids in weight loss, and may help prevent certain cancers
  107. Converting glucose to energy is not 100% efficient (body heat)
    Some energy is lost
  108. Detritus is made up of?
    Dead plant and animal matter (largely cellulose)
  109. Which organisms can use potential energy in detritus?
  110. Importance of decomposers in an ecosystem?
    they prevent accumulation of wastes in teh ecosystem; they also release nutrietns that are vitally important to the primary producers because it is the major source of nutrients in most ecosystems. Most energy in an ecosystem flows through the detritus food web.
  111. Understand synergistic effects or synergism (as well as mutualism). Realize that these effects can be positive or negative. is the relationship between Rhizobium and a legume synergistic or not?
    • Yes, the relationship between Rhizobium adn a legume is a synergistic association in which the legume provides the bacteria (Rhizobium) with food and habitat and, in return, the legume gains a usable source of nitrogen.
    • Synergism is the phenomenon whereby 2 factors acting together have a greater effect than woudl be indicated by the sum total of their effects separately (e.g. 2+3=9)
    • Mutualism is a close relationship between 2 organisms from which both derive a benefit.
  112. About 2% of _______ energy is captured and used to generate 12- billion tons of organic material annually.
  113. Solar radiation is initial energy source of all major ecosystems (it is essentially not depleting and non-polluting):
    Light from the Sun (called the solar constant) is a form of pure energy; it contains no substance that can pollute the environment.
  114. Primary similarities and differnces between C, N, & P cycles:
    Like carbon, nitrogen possesses a gas phase; like phosphorus it acts as a limiting factor. the nitrogen cycle is otherwise unique. most notably, unlike any other cylce, bacteria in soils, water, and sediments perform many of the steps of the nitrogen cycle. Liek phosphorus, nitrogen is in high demand by both aquatic and terrestrial plants.
  115. How does N move from reactive to non-reactive forms (4 ways) and vise-versa?
    • Biological nitrogen fixation: through plants/ bacteria (Rhizobium and legumes)
    • Atmospheric nitrogen fixation: lightening fixes nitrogen gas to ammonium form
    • Industrial nitrogen fixation (Haber-Bosch): manufacture of fertilizer
    • Combustion of fossil fules