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2.3: Communities - Biology

2.3: Communities - Biology



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Chapter Hook

Until the late 1800s, Bison (Bison bison) numbered tens of millions in the Great Plains of the United States. By 1890, roughly 1000 Bison were left because the United States government campaign to eradicate the native people, their culture, and habitats they relied on. Slowly, a movement started to try and save Bison from extinction. It took until the early 2000’s for Bison numbers to reach a half a million. During this time, scientists were able to observe the Bison reintroduction back into the Great Plains. Bison were found to be the most critical species to restoring and maintaining the function and diversity in the Great Plains community. Both plants and animal populations in the community were strengthened from the return of the Bison. Understanding community dynamics is essential to conserving and restoring these systems and the species that define them. This is particularly critical for communities with one particular species that acts as a keystone to the health of the system.

Figure (PageIndex{a}): American bison with starlings on its back. Image by NPS photos/Kim Acker (Public Domain)

Populations typically do not live in isolation from other species. Populations that interact within a given area form a community. The organisms that form a community are found in habitats, physical environments where organisms live; however, biotic (living) components are considered part of a community. Scientists study ecology at the community level to understand how species interact with each other and compete for the same resources.

Attribution

Modified by Rachel Schleiger and Melissa Ha from Community Ecology from Environmental Biology by Matthew R. Fisher (licensed under CC-BY)


2.3: Communities - Biology

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Editor’s Choice articles are based on recommendations by the scientific editors of MDPI journals from around the world. Editors select a small number of articles recently published in the journal that they believe will be particularly interesting to authors, or important in this field. The aim is to provide a snapshot of some of the most exciting work published in the various research areas of the journal.


2.3: Communities - Biology

All articles published by MDPI are made immediately available worldwide under an open access license. No special permission is required to reuse all or part of the article published by MDPI, including figures and tables. For articles published under an open access Creative Common CC BY license, any part of the article may be reused without permission provided that the original article is clearly cited.

Feature Papers represent the most advanced research with significant potential for high impact in the field. Feature Papers are submitted upon individual invitation or recommendation by the scientific editors and undergo peer review prior to publication.

The Feature Paper can be either an original research article, a substantial novel research study that often involves several techniques or approaches, or a comprehensive review paper with concise and precise updates on the latest progress in the field that systematically reviews the most exciting advances in scientific literature. This type of paper provides an outlook on future directions of research or possible applications.

Editor’s Choice articles are based on recommendations by the scientific editors of MDPI journals from around the world. Editors select a small number of articles recently published in the journal that they believe will be particularly interesting to authors, or important in this field. The aim is to provide a snapshot of some of the most exciting work published in the various research areas of the journal.


Food Web

Patrick has been teaching AP Biology for 14 years and is the winner of multiple teaching awards.

A food web is a diagram that shows all the pathways of energy flow in a community. The food web is similar to a food chain in that it depicts organisms which eat each other. However, a food web is more complex as it shows how herbivores, carnivores, omnivores, decomposers and detritivores interact with one another.

When studying a particular ecosystem ecologists like to learn who is eating who, where are all the connections between the different organisms? How are they passing on the energy and to do that, you need to go beyond the simple food chain into what's know as a food web. And that's the diagram that shows all the pathways of energy flow within a particular community.

Now you'll have these terms that are used to describe the various organisms in that community. There's the producers, they're the ones that are producing or making the food. Typically there're plants or algae, they're the consumers which are not making their own food instead they consumer other organisms. This can be classified as herbivores which eat producers, carnivores the word carni means meat so they're eating the other consumers. Herbi just as a side not means plants and that's why they're called herbivores because they're eating the plants or producers. Omni is a root word that means all, so the omnivores eat all other things. Anything that they see they can eat it, so it's like you looking at some broccoli you'll eat it, pig if you like eating pork whatever you want to eat you can eat it.

Decomposers sometimes are called detritivores because they eat detrities, they don't hunt down and kill other things, they don't make their own food instead they're the clean up curr they're the ones that are eating the dead organisms or sometimes the partially digested organisms. What they do by eating the dead decaying organic matter is that they recycle the nutrients that are locked up in those dead bodies. For example, I hope never to be mould by a bear so nothing is going to eat me. Instead when I die I'll eventually be decomposed by various fungi or bacteria that'll slowly return the calcium and phosphorus and all the other inorganic minerals that are in my body back into the environment.

Let's take a look at the food web. Now down the bottom are producers are the phytoplanktons and the vegetation that's either in or around the water. Now you can see they're being eaten by these herbivores the primary consumers and then those are being eaten by the secondary consumers. But you're seeing that there are some weirdnesses going on here unlike a simple food chain where it's 1, 2, 3 here we see the zooplankton are in the phytoplankton but this small fish is eating both the phytoplankton and the zooplankton. So is this a primary or a secondary consumer? It's kind of both it depends on what level you're talking about. That's why it's important to understand that those terms I was talking about are general terms. They're not always used in every specific example but they're useful in discussing comparing 2 different groups between 2 different situations. So you can see here there's many flows of energy so one organism usually does not depend entirely on one other organism as its food supply.

In a more diverse food web is encouraging to ecologists because it helps them see a very healthy environment. If you have a food web that doesn't have a lot of branches that means that food web is more vulnerable. If one organism in the chain dies then many other things may die too. So that's why it's so important to understand the food web of a particular community in the environment.


2.3: Communities - Biology

Living things are highly organized and structured, following a hierarchy that can be examined on a scale from small to large. The atom is the smallest and most fundamental unit of matter. It consists of a nucleus surrounded by electrons. Atoms form molecules. A molecule is a chemical structure consisting of at least two atoms held together by one or more chemical bonds. Many molecules that are biologically important are macromolecules, large molecules that are typically formed by polymerization (a polymer is a large molecule that is made by combining smaller units called monomers, which are simpler than macromolecules). An example of a macromolecule is deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) (Figure 1), which contains the instructions for the structure and functioning of all living organisms.

Figure 1. All molecules, including this DNA molecule, are composed of atoms. (credit: “brian0918″/Wikimedia Commons)

Some cells contain aggregates of macromolecules surrounded by membranes these are called organelles. Organelles are small structures that exist within cells. Examples of organelles include mitochondria and chloroplasts, which carry out indispensable functions: mitochondria produce energy to power the cell, while chloroplasts enable green plants to utilize the energy in sunlight to make sugars. All living things are made of cells the cell itself is the smallest fundamental unit of structure and function in living organisms. (This requirement is why viruses are not considered living: they are not made of cells. To make new viruses, they have to invade and hijack the reproductive mechanism of a living cell only then can they obtain the materials they need to reproduce.) Some organisms consist of a single cell and others are multicellular. Cells are classified as prokaryotic or eukaryotic. Prokaryotes are single-celled or colonial organisms that do not have membrane-bound nuclei or organelles in contrast, the cells of eukaryotes do have membrane-bound organelles and a membrane-bound nucleus.

In larger organisms, cells combine to make tissues, which are groups of similar cells carrying out similar or related functions. Organs are collections of tissues grouped together performing a common function. Organs are present not only in animals but also in plants. An organ system is a higher level of organization that consists of functionally related organs. Mammals have many organ systems. For instance, the circulatory system transports blood through the body and to and from the lungs it includes organs such as the heart and blood vessels. Organisms are individual living entities. For example, each tree in a forest is an organism. Single-celled prokaryotes and single-celled eukaryotes are also considered organisms and are typically referred to as microorganisms.

All the individuals of a species living within a specific area are collectively called a population. For example, a forest may include many pine trees. All of these pine trees represent the population of pine trees in this forest. Different populations may live in the same specific area. For example, the forest with the pine trees includes populations of flowering plants and also insects and microbial populations. A community is the sum of populations inhabiting a particular area. For instance, all of the trees, flowers, insects, and other populations in a forest form the forest’s community. Keep in mind that the community level only consists of living organisms. The forest itself is an ecosystem this is the first level that contains non-living aspects of a given area that impact the living things in that environment. An ecosystem consists of all the living things in a particular area together with the abiotic, non-living parts of that environment such as nitrogen in the soil or rain water. At the highest level of organization (Figure 2), the biosphere is the collection of all ecosystems, and it represents the zones of life on earth. It includes land, water, and even the atmosphere to a certain extent.

Practice Question

From a single organelle to the entire biosphere, living organisms are parts of a highly structured hierarchy.

Figure 2. The biological levels of organization of living things are shown. From a single organelle to the entire biosphere, living organisms are parts of a highly structured hierarchy. (credit “organelles”: modification of work by Umberto Salvagnin credit “cells”: modification of work by Bruce Wetzel, Harry Schaefer/ National Cancer Institute credit “tissues”: modification of work by Kilbad Fama Clamosa Mikael Häggström credit “organs”: modification of work by Mariana Ruiz Villareal credit “organisms”: modification of work by “Crystal”/Flickr credit “ecosystems”: modification of work by US Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters credit “biosphere”: modification of work by NASA)


Author information

Markus J Herrgård & Dina Petranovic

Present address: Present addresses: Synthetic Genomics, Inc., 11149 N. Torrey Pines Rd., La Jolla, California 92037, USA (M.J.H.) and Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology, SE-412 96 Gothenburg, Sweden (D.P.).,

Markus J Herrgård and Neil Swainston: These authors contributed equally to this work.

Affiliations

Department of Bioengineering, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, 92093-0412, California, USA

Markus J Herrgård, Monica L Mo & Bernhard Ø Palsson

School of Computer Science, The University of Manchester, Oxford Rd., Manchester, M13 9PL, UK

Neil Swainston, Peter Li, Stephen Pettifer, Irena Spasié & Pedro Mendes

The Manchester Centre for Integrative Systems Biology, Manchester Interdisciplinary Biocentre, The University of Manchester, 131 Princess St., Manchester, M1 7DN, UK

Neil Swainston, Paul Dobson, Warwick B Dunn, Nils Blüthgen, Peter Li, Stephen Pettifer, Evangelos Simeonidis, Kieran Smallbone, Irena Spasié, Dieter Weichart, David S Broomhead, Hans V Westerhoff, Stephen G Oliver, Pedro Mendes & Douglas B Kell

School of Chemistry, The University of Manchester, Manchester, M13 9PL, UK

Paul Dobson, Warwick B Dunn, Dieter Weichart & Douglas B Kell

Department of Chemical Engineering, Boğaziçi University, Bebek 34342, Istanbul, Turkey

K Yalçin Arga & Betül Kürdar

VTT Biotechnology Espoo, PO Box 1500, FIN-02044, Finland

Mikko Arvas & Merja Penttilä

School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science, The University of Manchester, UK

Nils Blüthgen, Evangelos Simeonidis & Hans V Westerhoff

Max-Planck-Institut für Molekulare Genetik, Ihnestrasse 73, Berlin, 14195, Germany

Simon Borger, Wolfram Liebermeister & Edda Klipp

Institut für Molekulare Systembiologie, ETH Zurich Wolfgang-Pauli-Str. 16, Zürich, 8093, Switzerland

Roeland Costenoble, Matthias Heinemann & Uwe Sauer

Control and Dynamical Systems, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, 91125, California, USA

Computational Neurobiology, EMBL-EBI, Wellcome-Trust Genome Campus, Hinxton, Cambridge, CB10 1SD, UK

Department of Systems Biology, Center for Microbial Biotechnology, Technical University of Denmark, Building 223, DK-2800 Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark

Ana Paula Oliveira, Dina Petranovic & Jens Nielsen

School of Mathematics, The University of Manchester, Manchester, M13 9PL, UK

Kieran Smallbone & David S Broomhead

The Molecular Sciences Institute, 2168 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, 94704, California, USA

Department of Molecular Cell Physiology, Vrije Universiteit, de Boelelaan 1085, Amsterdam, 1081 HV, The Netherlands

Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge, Sanger Building, 80 Tennis Court Road, Cambridge, CB2 1GA, UK

Virginia Bioinformatics Institute, Virginia Tech, Washington St. 0477, Blacksburg, 24061, Virginia, USA

Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, SE-412 96, Sweden

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Contributions

All authors conceived the idea of the consensus reconstruction, the majority were present during the jamboree itself and all contributed to the writing of, and approved, the manuscript.


Watch the video: Climax Communities. Biology. Ecology (August 2022).