~Unit 1~
Chapter 1, 2, and 3
The Earth consists of many different types of ecosystems. These ecosystems can be extremely fragile. Temperatures rates, precipitation and oxygen levels, human influences, the sun’s energy, and various types of species all affect an ecosystem’s health. The biodiversity of Earth also balances energy levels and a species survival chance.

~Chapter 1~

1.1 Biomes

A biome consists of ecosystems which then consist of habitats. A biome’s important features include biotic and abiotic components. Examples of biotic components are plants, animals, fungi, and bacteria. Abiotic components in a biome include sunlight, soil, temperature, and moisture. Each biome has an area average temperature and precipitation. The world consists of eight main terrestrial biomes:
1. Tundra
2. Boreal Forest
3. Temperate Deciduous Forest
4. Temperate Rainforest
5. Grassland
6. Tropical Rainforest
7. Desert
8. Permanent Ice


Organisms have three main adaptations that allow them to survive in their environment:
1. Structural- physical features of an organism
2. Physiological- Physical or chemical event that occurs in an organism’s body
3. Behavioural- What an organism does (feeds, mates, hibernates, migrates)

1.2 Ecosystems
Biotic components interact with each other in the shared ecosystem. There are three main symbiotic relationships between these organisms:
1. Commensalism- One organism benefits, other is not affected
2. Mutualism- Both organism benefit
3. Parasitism- One organism benefits, other is harmed

Competition and Predation also occur in ecosystems. The difference between predation and parasitism is that in predation, the disadvantaged organism is more than harmed, it is killed. Organisms have roles in their ecosystems, called niches.

~Chapter 2~

2.1 Energy Flow in Ecosystems

Energy flows from one organism to another involving the producer and the consumer. The producer simply produces the nutrient for the consumer to take in. An example of this would be plants producing carbohydrates for other organisms such as bees to consume. These consumers can also become consumed by other organism for energy.

There are 4 trophic levels in a FOOD CHAIN
Terrestrial and Aquatic FOOD CHAIN --> Primary Producers (Plants) --> Primary Consumers (Herbivores) --> Secondary Consumers (Carnivores) --> Tertiary Consumers (Top Carnivores)

*Detrivores feed at every trophic level*

FOOD WEB- is an interconnected food chain. If one organism is taken out, the rest are impacted immensely.
FOOD PYRAMID- (ecological pyramid) of Biomass, Populations of organisms, and Energy loss.

2.2 Nutrient Cycles in Ecosystems
Carbon Cycle
During sedimentation, decaying and dead form layers on the ground or on ocean ground. These layers lowly turn into rock. Sedimentary rock also forms which contains carbonate (carbon and oxygen). Carbon moves through ecosystems with respiration, photosynthesis, decomposition, ocean processes, and drastic events (volcanoes and forest fires).
Cellular respiration occurs when plants and animals release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This is done by converting carbohydrates and oxygen into carbon dioxide and water; energy is also released.
(carbohydrate) + 6O2 --> 6CO2 + 6H2O + Energy
Solar energy is converted into chemical energy. Carbon (as CO2) enters leaves of plants and reacts with water. Under the sunlight, sugars and oxygen are produced.

Light energy + 6CO2 + 12H2O à C6H12O6 + 6O2

Decomposers (Bacteria and fungi) convert organic molecules into carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide is then released into the atmosphere.
Ocean Processes (Mixing)
Carbon dioxide is dissolved in the cold ocean waters (highest and lowest latitude of Earth). The cold waters move to the warm tropics, where it is warmed and therefore rises as it warms. Carbon dioxide is released as warmed water is carried back to the poles. This process explains why there are so many trees and much vegetation near the equator.
Volcanoes and Forest Fires
Carbon dioxide is released from volcanoes erupting. The subduction and melting of sedimentary rock releases carbon dioxide. Also forest fires rapidly release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Nitrogen Cycle
The atmosphere holds most of Earth’s nitrogen as nitrogen gas. Nitrogen fixation is when nitrogen gas is converted into compounds that contain nitrate or ammonium. This occurs in the soil, atmosphere, or in water.
Nitrification is when ammonium is converted into nitrate. This occurs for plants that don’t associate with nitrogen-fixing bacteria.
Denitrification is when nitrogen is returned to the atmosphere. This process converts nitrate back into nitrogen gas.
Nitrogen is released when fossil fuels are burned. (Cars and trucks)
Acid rain is formed from the dissolved nitrogen compounds in clouds, nitric acid falls to Earth.

Phosphorus Cycle
Human bones consist of a large amount of phosphorus. Phosphorus is not stored in the atmosphere like many elements. It is found mostly in phosphate rock and sediments on the ocean floor.
Weathering- breaking down rock into smaller fragments.

2.3 Effects of Bioaccumulation on Ecosystems

Bioaccumulation- build-up of synthetic and organic chemicals in organisms. EX: raccoon taking in toxins (eating, respiration, skin contact). Chemicals accumulate in body because removal and excretion isn’t fast enough.
Keystone Species- very important to ecosystem. If removed or affected, the ecosystem will dramatically change and alter populations and health of this ecosystem.
EX: Salmon species are food source for bears in wintertime.
Biomagnification- After chemicals accumulate, they are biomagnified. They are biomagnified when chemicals are stored into the tissues. Other organisms consume these chemicals (eat organism with biomagnified chemicals) to attain energy.
PCBs (Aquatics) - have long half-life. PCBs interfere with reproduction rates in orcas. Orcas have high levels of PCBs because they consume many smaller species in the ocean, also since they have long half-life.
Bioremediation- Scientists use living organism to clean-up naturally.

~Chapter 3~

3.1 How Changes Occur Naturally in Ecosystems

Ecological succession is the process in which an ecosystem’s organisms change overtime.
Primary Succession
In primary succession, no soil exists. The weathering and breaking down of rock by lichens and natural processes (wind, rain, freezing) form soil. Pioneer species are plants, such as lichens, that survive and eventually reproduce in a new area. Mosses grow and decay during this time and therefore add more nutrients to the soil. More types of insects, grasses, and small plants are introduced to the developing community. A climax or mature community is formed at the end of primary succession. Boreal forests, grasslands, and deserts are examples of mature communities.

Secondary Succession
Secondary succession occurs faster than primary succession, which takes hundreds of years. Forest fires and other disturbances cause the result of secondary succession. Flooding, drought, tsunamis, and insect infestations are other examples.

3.2 How Human Influence Ecosystems

Humans use land for agriculture, industry development, mining, and forestry. Resource use is the way humans obtain and use materials like water, gas, oil, and soil. Many organisms lose their habitats because of human land use. Habitat loss results from animals losing their homes from destruction of the ecosystem.
Soil Degradation- water and wind erosion removes topsoil from bare land.
Soil Compaction- soil particles are squeezed together from farm vehicles and grazing animals.
Ecosystems can be negatively affected when resources are exploited. This can result in extinction. Overfishing of yellowfish tuna and Atlantic cod are examples of organisms becoming extinct.

3.3 How Introduced Species Affect Ecosystems
An ecosystem consists of many types of species: Native species, Introduced species, and Invasive species. Native species are plants and animals that have already and naturally inhabited an area. Cattails are an example of a native species. Introduced or foreign species are usually harmless or beneficial to the environment, for example the looseleaf-eating beetle. Invasive species however can be very harmful. They can take over organisms’ habitats and therefore weaken their immune systems.

Introduced invasive species affects native species. They do this through competition, predation, disease, parasitism, and habitat alteration.

Competition- Organisms compete for food sources and habitats. EX: Carpet burweed competing with rare native plants.
Predation- introduced species can have a bigger impact on prey than native predators. This is because prey may not have the adaptations to fight against them. EX: Yellow crazy ants against crabs.
Disease and Parasites- Less dominant species have a chance to harm other species. Immune systems of organism can be severely affected from diseases. EX: Sea lamprey attacking a fish.
Habitat Alteration- Organisms take over other organisms’ habitats. They change structures such as light and oxygen levels, precipitation levels, pollination, soil chemistry, and nutrient cycling. EX: wild boar raiding an albatross nest.

~Oil Spill in Gulf of Mexico~

The famous oil spill has unfortunately reached the shores. Efforts have been put into fixing this problem. Controlled burning and dispersing/plugging the leak have both been tried, but failed to work. Many animals are affected and are also suffocating. Dolphins, turtles, and many birds, including the brown pelicans are all trapped in this large spill. It is uncertain what caused the spill. However, it is known that Transocean (BP) was trying to drill a well in the ocean. Apparently it was getting cemented and almost finished up. At the high pressures of a blowout preventer device, the hydrocarbon flow was uncontrollable. The natural gas separated from the oil which then ignited into an explosion.

Smoke from controlled burning of spill
A boat in the Gulf of Mexico

· Lionel Sandner, Glen Fatkin, Donald Lacy, Josef Martha, James Milross, and Karen Naso. BC Science 10. Canada: Diane Wyman, 2008
· "Bio Review." Photosynthesis General Equation. June 5, 2010 <http://library.thinkquest.org/28751/review/photo/1.html>
· "National Wildlife Refuge System" Plants and their Environment. June 5, 2010 <http://www.fws.gov/invasives/volunteersTrainingModule/invasives/plants.html>
· "Gulf of Mexico leak Reaches land" The Huffington Post. June 7, 2010 <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/30/louisiana-oil-spill-2010_n_558287.html#s95935>

· “Here's the Questions You Should Be Asking About the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill” The Business Insider-Green Sheet. June 7, 2010 <http://www.businessinsider.com/gulf-of-mexico-deepwater- horizon-oil-spill-2010-4>


The Wikispaces that we use for handing in assignments is very helpful. In my opinion, they are great in many ways; they are available and easy to access in school and at home. I think it makes learning more fun and interesting for the student. Also the teacher will have less trouble dealing with assignment on paper and in booklets. I really like how students are able to view each others work. However, there’s more chance of students copying one another. But otherwise, this way of doing homework is much more different than in the past. Before, written homework and crumpled pieces would be handed in.
In my opinion, it gives a student a better and truthful reason to go on the computer. Rather than doing actual work, they would be going on social networking sites or any other unproductive business.

~Natural Phenomena Affecting Earth's Climate~

Earth’s climate is affected by many natural and human causes. In this page I will explain the natural phenomena that affect Earth’s climate. The carbon cycle, the ozone layer, volcanoes, and El Niño and La Niña are the major natural affects.

The carbon cycle keeps a balance of the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. Like the other greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide absorbs infrared radiation from the sun. It also emits it from Earth’s surface, as much that is needed. The carbon cycle includes carbon sinks, such as deep oceans. The carbon sinks dissolve carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Carbon sources are the opposite of carbon sinks. Instead of absorbing, carbon sources release carbon dioxide. Examples of carbon sources are decaying forests or dead vegetation. If too much carbon dioxide is in the atmosphere, there would be a large increase in average temperature.

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  • The burning of fossil fuels in cars and trucks creates air pollution.

  • The air pollution chemically reacts with sunlight to form ozone molecules.

  • Ozone protects Earth from the harmful ultraviolet radiation.

  • If Earth’s ozone layer is destroyed temperature and climate will drastically increase.


There are many volcanoes around the world. Most of them sit on Earth’s Ring of Fire, which surrounds the Pacific Ocean. Volcanoes contribute in sending large amounts of gas and debris into the atmosphere. Many gases fly into the stratosphere and stay there for many months. The volcanoes that release sulfur oxide affect Earth’s climate the most. Sulfur hazes have the most capability of blocking out sunlight.
Two years after Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991, global temperatures decreased about a degree Fahrenheit. Whether temperatures will rise or drop, depends on the types of gas particles thrown into the atmosphere.
Tiny dust particles tossed into the lower atmosphere will crowd up and stay close to the volcano. Also these temporary particles can darken and cool the small surrounding areas. But they will eventually wash away by precipitation after a few days. On the other hand, the dust particles that fly into a higher atmospheric layer (stratosphere) will stay longer. They will also create darkness and lower temperature for larger areas. They do this by blocking out sunlight. Some volcanoes also release water and carbon dioxide. These two compounds absorb heat radiation from the ground. It is held in the atmosphere and increases Earth’s climate. The water eventually condenses as rain and the carbon dioxide absorbs in plants or is dissolved in the ocean.
Overtime volcano dust and debris particles can build up in the atmosphere and drastically warm or cool the Earth, along with all the other factors of climate change.

~El Niño and La Niña Phenomena~

El Niño

Winds over ocean weaken or reverse. Warm waters in western pacific move east.
Cold water is prevented from moving up. This results in warmer weather.


Warm surface waters are kept in place by strong winds.
Cooler waters rise up to the surface.

La Niña

Strong winds push warm pacific waters far west.
Cold waters in Eastern Pacific rise. This results in cooler weather.

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- Lionel Sandner, Glen Fatkin, Donald Lacy, Josef Martha, James Milross, and Karen Naso. BC Science 10. Canada:
Diane Wyman, 2008

"Ocean Facts." Ocean Service. 23 April 2010

- Sharma, Partha Das. "Ozone Layer." Partha Das Sharma's Weblog on "Keeping World Environment Safer and Greener". 23 April 2010

- "Volcanoes and Climate." Exploring the Environment. 27 April 2010