1. Organisms interacting with one another and with their physical environment make up an ECOSYSTEM.
    2. Organisms that live together in an ecosystem make up a COMMUNITY.
    3. A community contains many different POPULATIONS of organisms. Each population contains all the organisms of the same kind in a community.
    4. An ecosystem may be small, containing only a few interacting species. (example: a puddle)
    5. An ecosystem may be large, such as a rain forest, which stretches for thousands of kilometers and contains millions of different species.
    6. Ecosystems that cover large areas of Earth’s land surface are called BIOMES.
    7. The ABIOTIC CHARACTERISTICS (non-living) of an area include things such as climate and soil type.
    8. The BIOTIC FACTORS (Living)  of an area include things such as plants and animals.
    9. The following is a chart of the EARTH’S MAJOR BIOMES. This chart will include the Abiotic/Biotic factors.
    TUNDRA Very cold, dry Low shrubs, lichens Arctic fox, caribou, polar bears, many migratory birds
    DECIDUOUS FORESTS Cold winters; warm, wet summers Beech trees, oaks, maple trees, shrubs Fox, rodents, owls, hawks, insects, deer
    TIAGA Long, cold winters; short, cool summers, rainy Spruce trees, pine trees, lichen, mosses Moose, deer, beavers, porcupines, rodents, wolves, fox
    DESERT Hot days; cold nights; very dry Cacti, sparse grass Lizards, snakes, small rodents, insects .
    TROPICAL RAIN FOREST Warm and wet Large, leafy trees; vines Bats, parrots, monkeys, snakes, insects
    GRASSLAND Wet areas; dry areas; found everywhere but Antarctica Tall grasses in wet areas; shorter grasses in drier areas Grazing animals, rodents, their predators

  1. Within the Earth’s ecosystems, there is 71% water and 29% land
  2. Of all the water on the Earth, 97.2% is saltwater; 2.15% is ice; .63% is ground water; .02% is surface water (lakes, ponds).
  3. The FRESHWATER ECOSYSTEM consists of lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, swamps, marshes, and water bogs. The variety of living organisms within the freshwater ecosystem depends upon the abiotic factors, such as water temperature, water purity.
  4. The SALTWATER ECOSYSTEM makes up 97% of the Earth’s water systems. The forms of life within this ecosystem vary from tiny one-celled organisms to mammals as large as any animals that ever lived. Ocean water generally contains about 3.5% salt, but this amount can vary. Other abiotic factors that determine the types of living organisms are water pressure, temperature, and light.

  5. PRODUCERS (plants) change the Sun’s energy into food energy through a process called PHOTOSYNTHESIS.
  6. Plants trap energy in the cells in their leaves, which contains hundreds of little disks called CHLOROPLASTS.
  7. Chloroplasts contain a green pigment called CHLOROPHYLL. The chlorophyll works like a solar panel, absorbing light energy.
  8. Chlorophyll uses the Sun’s energy to change two substances—carbon dioxide and water into food.
  9. The food produced by the plants is called GLUCOSE. Glucose is a form of sugar.
  10. Consumers that receive their energy directly from producers are called FIRST LEVEL CONSUMERS. First level consumers are HERBIVORES (plant eaters).
  11. In a pond ecosystem, pond weeds and algae would be the producers.
  12. In the pond ecosystem, snails and water fleas would be the first level consumers because they would receive their energy from the pond weeds and algae.
  13. In a pond ecosystem, minnows would be the SECOND LEVEL CONSUMER because they would receive their energy from the snails and water fleas. Emphasize that energy moves through an ecosystem by being transferred from one organism to another.
  14. In a pond ecosystem, perch would be the THIRD LEVEL CONSUMERS because they receive their energy from the minnows.
  15. OMNIVORES are consumers that eat both plants and animals.
  16. CARVIVORES are consumers that eat only other animals.
  17. The TERRITORIAL CONSUMER within a pond ecosystem might be a human, or it could be an eagle. Emphasize that these consumers are the fewest in population.

    1. A FOOD CHAIN is the path of energy that is transferred from one organism to another.
    2. Organisms that use the Sun for food because they can carry on photosynthesis are called PRODUCERS.
    3. Organisms that obtain energy by eating other organisms are called CONSUMERS.
    4. There are four kinds of consumers:
    1. DECOMPOSERS feed on the wastes of living organism and on dead, decaying plants and animals.
    2. HERBIVORES are plant-eating consumers.
    3. CARNIVORES are meat-eating consumers.
    4. Consumers that eat both meat and plants are called OMNIVORES.
    1. Most consumers and decomposers can get energy from more than one kind of food. An organism can be part of many food chains causing food chains to overlap. The overlapping food chain forms a FOOD WEB.
    2. Discuss an ecosystem where an owl would be the NOCTURNAL(active at night) territorial consumer:
    1. Consumers such as mice, rats, voles, caterpillars, would be herbivores (first level consumers).
    2. Birds would consume decomposers such as worms and the first level consumers.
    3. Weasels would eat the mice and voles; therefore, the weasels are second level consumers.
    4. The owl may then consume the weasel, which ate the mouse. The owl becomes the third level consumer, or in this case, the territorial consumer.
    1. The owl usually swallows its prey whole. If the prey is too large, the owl can tear it into smaller pieces.
    2. The owl’s digestive juices cannot break down the fur, feathers, or bone that it swallows, so those undigestible materials are clumped together in the stomach and then regurgitated through the mouth in the form of an owl pellet.
    3. The owl will regurgitate a pellet every two to three hours.
    4. You can determine where the owl’s foraging territories are and what prey they hunt by investigating their pellets.
  1. Students should be aware of the need for oxygen by animals.
  2. Plants of many types provide most of the oxygen in the air.
  3. By the same token, animals breathe out a waste product called CARBON DIOXIDE that plants use to make food for themselves with the addition of water and sunlight.
  4. This planet is a fragile balance between these and other gases that are influenced by the number of plants and animals in each ecosystem.
  5. With the help of CHLOROPHYLL and energy from the sun, a plant leaf can change lifeless substances into food. Chlorophyll contains the ELEMENTS: carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and magnesium.
  6. The leaves are like little food making factories. Different parts of the leaf help with this job. The VEINS in a leaf are bundles of tiny tubes. They carry water and minerals to the leaf and take food from the leaf to the rest of the plant.
  7. On the underside of the leaf are small openings called STOMATA. Stomata have been called the lungs of a leaf because they allow air to enter and/or leave the leaf. The outer layers of the leaf are covered with waxy layers that prevent the leaf from drying out.
  8. Plants need WATER and CARBON DIOXIDE to make food for photosynthesis. The ROOTS absorb water and soil nutrients for the plant.
  9. The leaf uses CHLOROPHYLL and SUNLIGHT to change water and carbon dioxide into OXYGEN and SUGAR.
  10. The sugar is mixed with water and sent to other parts of the plant. Oxygen is released into the air through the stomata.
  11. In animals, this oxygen is inhaled into the lungs and stored in the air sacs comprising the lungs. Small capillaries line these air sacs through which blood flows.
  12. Within the blood, there are red blood cells that contain a protein called HEMOGLOBIN. Hemoglobin is comprised of the elements: carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and iron (Note similarities with chlorophyll).
  13. Hemoglobin carries the oxygen and iron to all parts of the body.
  14. Note the cell structures of a plant and animal. Both cells have a CELL MEMBRANE that surrounds the entire cell and holds the cell parts together. The cell membrane allows things to enter and leave the cell. The cell membrane is SEMIPERMEABLE. That means that the cell membrane has tiny spaces that allow very small molecules like water, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and simple sugar to pass in and out of the membrane. 15. Animals and plants are part of a delicate balance with their environment. They cannot live without one another. Plants provide animals with oxygen to breathe, while animals provide plants with the carbon dioxide they need for food as well as animal waste, which provides other nutrients to the plants. The environment animals and plants live in must be kept clean and pollution free. If there is a proper BALANCE between animals, plants, and their environment, they survive together without any need for interference from people.


  1. Photosynthetic organisms, which are Earth’s PRODUCERS(plants) are at the base of most food webs.
  2. Without plants, there would be no animal life on Earth because animals would have nothing to eat.
  3. Plants also give off oxygen, a gas that makes up about 21 percent of the air. Humans and other animals need oxygen in order to survive.
  4. During photosynthesis, plants combine water and carbon dioxide. A chemical reaction occurs that produces glucose. Oxygen is a byproduct of this chemical reaction.
  5. Seventy percent of the oxygen that animals and humans breathe is produced by the phytoplankton floating on the ocean’s surface. The remaining 30 percent of the oxygen we breathe is produced by plants living on land.
  6. Plants, animals, and most other living things must have oxygen to release the energy contained in food. The process of releasing energy in a usable form is called CELL RESPIRATION.
  7. Cell respiration is the use of oxygen to break down glucose. The waste products of cell respiration are WATER and CARBON DIOXIDE. Consumers breathe in .03% carbon dioxide and exhale 4% carbon dioxide.
  8. Plants keep oxygen cycling through the environment. Oxygen is released as a waste product of photosynthesis. Both producers and consumers use oxygen to obtain energy from glucose during cell respiration. The carbon dioxide released as a waste product is used during photosynthesis. And the cycle starts again. (A44-45).
  9. All living organisms need water, and living things form an important link in the WATER CYCLE.
  10. Water carries nutrients, flushes away wastes, and is needed for life processes. Some water is released back into the air as waste products of digestion and cell respiration.
  11. Plants also cycle water through the ecosystems. Water is released trough the leaves of plants during a process called TRANSPIRATION.
  12. Not all of Earth’s water is usable. Ninety-seven and two tenths percent of Earth’s water is saltwater; 2.15% is frozen glacier; .63% is ground water, and 0.2% is surface water (fresh water lakes, ponds).
  13. Living things not only need energy, oxygen, and water, but they also need PROTEINS. Proteins are compounds that act ad the building blocks of living things.
  14. NITROGEN is needed to make proteins. The Earth’s atmosphere is about 78% nitrogen.
  15. Nitrogen gas cannot be used directly by most organisms. Before nitrogen can be used, it must be changed into nitrogen compounds.
  16. DECOMPOSERS feed on dead organisms and waste products. The nitrogen they release is in the form of ammonia which plants can use. Unused compounds are broken down by bacteria and released back into the air as nitrates.
  17. Plants use ammonia and nitrates to make proteins. Animals get nitrogen by eating plants or other animals.