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Chapter 5 – Ecology and Environment

The following Topics and Sub-Topics are covered in this chapter and are available on MSVgo:

Introduction

The world that we live in consists of a large number of biological elements that are essential for the efficient functioning of individual processes and life-cycles. Our ecology and environment is the most fundamental aspect of life for humans, as well as other organisms that inhabit our planet. Ecology refers to the scientific study of interrelations between organisms and their environment; it intends to recognise the biological life-cycles as a whole, and their interconnections with one another.

‘Ecology’ comprises the study of living organisms, their interdependence with other living organisms (mammals, insects, reptiles, micro-organisms) around them, along with their interactivity with their abiotic environment (non-living elements such as water, soil, air, land and sea, etc.).

Ecology can be categorized into two types, based on classification:

  • Based on the nature of their interaction
  1. Autecology deals with the study of an organism (or its species), their adaptations and interplay with their environment
  2. Synecology deals with the study of different species living in habitats and their exchange with their surroundings. 
  • Based on their location/type of ecosystem
  1. Aquatic ecology involves the study of aquatic ecosystems. E.g. rivers, oceans, etc.
  2. Terrestrial ecology involves the study of the terrestrial ecosystems. E.g. grasslands, forests, deserts, etc.

The ecological jargon involves biotic and abiotic elements, with varying complexities depending on the size of the scale in perspective. The following sequence is observed in Ecology for careful categorization and realization of organisms:

Organism → Species (population) → Biotic community → Ecosystem → Biome → Biosphere

  • An organism is the simplest unit of an ecosystem. It comprises all living beings, unicellular or multicellular, including plants, animals, vertebrates, invertebrates, etc.
  • Species/Population are organisms of the same species that live in the same habitat, often sharing geographical surroundings. A species refers to a group of organisms sharing a common gene pool and can be bred with each other for producing an offspring.
  • Biotic community includes producers, consumers and decomposers, and all such living organisms that can be grouped as a part of multiple interlinked life-cycles. 
  • An ecosystem is a fundamental unit of the ecological cycle. It covers the biotic community and its interrelations with its abiotic physical environment. Biotic and abiotic components together formulate a complete ecosystem.
  • Biome consists of various ecosystems that are observed within a vast geographical area.
  • The biosphere can be said to be the total sum of all ecosystems. It is also referred to as the zone of life on Earth. 

While an environment refers to the natural surroundings of organisms, it is difficult to explain it further without establishing the basis of classification. Habitat is the natural environment of an organism, where it tends to live, grow, and reproduce. It is a defined ecological area that is compatible with that specific organism. Habitats include abiotic components like water, temperature, light and soil, along with the biotic components, such as other species and organisms, predators, competitors, etc. 

A Niche involves the interaction of a species with its environment. Species are dependent on the quality of those abiotic and biotic factors for survival. When belonging to the same niche, organisms share a similar level of interaction to a range of factors that provide an optimum environment for survival.

Abiotic factors consist of climatic conditions such as temperature, soil, water, air, light; along with the inorganic and organic chemical components such as nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur, carbohydrate, proteins, lipids, etc. that are necessary to sustain the biotic community. Following are some of the fundamental abiotic factors:

  • Temperature is the most important environmental and ecological abiotic factor. Ranging from subzero temperatures in polar areas to scorching heat of above 50℃ in tropical desserts. Temperature impacts the kinetics of enzymes and alters the metabolic and physiological functions of organisms that are essential for survival.
  • Water has been the basis of life since aeons. Organisms cannot sustain without water. Various factors like pH, chemical composition govern the quality of the water, which is important for the organisms inhabiting that area. They affect the survival of aquatic organisms, plants, algae, plankton, etc. as well as non-aquatic, terrestrial consumers of water.
  • Sunlight has been the source of energy that flows in an ecosystem. Producers such as plants, trees and shrubs convert sunlight’s energy to chemical energy through the process of photosynthesis. The same energy, in the form of ATP, is transferred through the biological cycles, thus making it necessary for the survival of all beings. 
  • Soils from different locations have different chemical compositions that affect the quality of nutrients that they provide for producers, as well as insects, micro-organisms, etc. They differ due to varying climatic conditions, weathering process and soil erosion.

The responses of biotic organisms to the abiotic factors that they are exposed to help us understand their optimum conditions, and thus ensure their survival. Following are the generally observed responses:

  • Homeotherms maintain constant internal temperature, by responding to the temperature around them through a process called thermoregulation which helps them to adapt to the changes in temperatures. 
  • Poikilotherms and ectotherms need to conform as they cannot regulate their internal temperature. They adapt to the change in temperature by absorbing heat or adjusting to the environment.
  • Migratory organisms relocate temporarily to areas with hospitable environments to avoid stressful seasons.
  • Cold-blooded animals perform hibernation or aestivation through periods of inactivity, to survive extreme cold or hot environmental conditions respectively.
  • Most organisms undergo gradual evolution towards genetic adaptation. They include any morphological, physiological and behavioural adaptations carried out to increase the rate of survival of offspring.

Along with interactions with abiotic factors, organisms interact with one another for their survival. This synergy is what makes the study of ecology essential, as we can obtain better insights about an organism by studying the biological interactions that it undergoes during its lifespan. Here are some of the important biological interactions:

  • Commensalism refers to the coexisting interaction of a species that benefits without affecting or harming other organisms. E.g. barnacles and bromeliads.
  • Amensalism is an interaction where one species is under direct harm by the other, and the attacking organism remains unaffected. E.g. humans affected by harmful bacteria.
  • Mutualism is when two organisms interact towards a mutual benefit of both the species.E.g. bees pollinating flowers.
  • Competition is where two species need to compete for the same resources, and survival of one species can be declined by the presence of competitor species. E.g. hyenas and lions.
  • Predation involves the relationship between prey and predator, where the predators need to hunt and consume their prey for survival. E.g.. frogs and insects.
  • Parasitism refers to the relationship shared between a host and a parasite, where the parasite derives its needs from the host, while potentially harming it. E.g. tapeworms.

Ecology, when studied at an organism level, tries to interpret various species and their ability to adapt to their environment for their needs and survival. Understanding ecology and its inherent ecosystems help us identify various patterns and anomalies of nature, and thus ensure its integrity, while effectively maintaining its bountiful resources. To learn more about ecology and environment, download the MSVgo app.  With an extensive video library, it employs visualisations or animations to explain concepts with examples.

High School Physics

  • Alternating Current
  • Atoms
  • Communication Systems
  • Current Electricity
  • Dual nature of Radiation and Matter
  • Electric Charges and Fields
  • Electricity
  • Electromagnetic Induction
  • Electromagnetic Waves
  • Electron Beams and Radioactivity
  • Electrons and Photons
  • Electrostatic Potential and Capacitance
  • Fluid Pressure
  • Force and Acceleration
  • Force And Laws Of Motion
  • Gravitation
  • Internal Energy
  • Kinetic Theory
  • Law of motion
  • Light – Reflection And Refraction
  • Magnetic Effects Of Electric Current
  • Magnetism and Matter
  • Management Of Natural Resources
  • Mechanical properties of Fluids
  • Mechanical properties of Solids
  • Motion
  • Motion in a plane
  • Motion in a straight line
  • Moving Charges and Magnetism
  • Nuclear Energy
  • Nuclei
  • Oscillations
  • Our Environment
  • Paths of Heat
  • Physical world
  • Ray optics and optical instruments
  • Semiconductor Devices
  • Semiconductor Electronics: Materials, Devices and Simple Circuits
  • Simple Machines
  • Sound
  • Sources Of Energy
  • Specific and Latent Heats
  • Spherical Mirrors
  • Static Electricity
  • Systems of Particles and Rotational motion
  • Thermal properties of matter
  • Thermodynamics
  • Units and Measurement
  • Vectors, Scalar Quantities and Elementary Calculus
  • Wave Optics
  • Waves
  • Work, Power and Energy

High School Chemistry

  • Acids, Bases and Salts
  • Alcohols, Phenols and Ethers
  • Aldehydes, Ketones and Carboxylic Acids
  • Aliphatic and Aromatic Hydrocarbons
  • Alkyl and Aryl Halides
  • Amines
  • Analytical Chemistry 
  • Atomic Structure
  • Atoms And Molecules
  • Basic concepts of Chemistry
  • Biomolecules
  • Carbon And Its Compounds
  • Carboxylic acids and Acid Derivatives
  • Chemical Bonding and Molecular Structures
  • Chemical Energetics
  • Chemical Equilibria
  • Chemical Kinetics
  • Chemical Reactions And Equations
  • Chemical Reactions and Their Mechanisms
  • Chemistry in Everyday Life
  • Chemistry of p-Block elements
  • Chemistry of Transition and Inner Transition
  • Classification of Elements
  • Coordination Compounds
  • Cyanide, Isocyanide, Nitro compounds and Amines
  • Electrochemistry
  • Electrolysis
  • Elements, Compounds and Mixtures
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Equilibrium
  • Ethers and Carbonyl compounds
  • Haloalkanes and Haloarenes
  • Hydrocarbons
  • Hydrogen
  • Ideal solutions
  • Introduction to Organic Chemistry
  • Ionic equilibria
  • Matter
  • Matter Around Us
  • Matter In Our Surroundings
  • Metallurgy
  • Metals And Non-Metals
  • Mole Concept and Stoichiometry
  • Natural Resources
  • Organic Chemistry – Basic Principles
  • Periodic Classification of Elements
  • Physical and Chemical Changes
  • Physical and Chemical Properties of Water
  • Polymers
  • Preparation, Properties and Uses of Compounds
  • Principles and Processes of Isolation of Elements
  • Redox Reactions
  • Relative Molecular Mass and Mole
  • States of Matter
  • Structure Of The Atom
  • Study of Compounds
  • Study of Gas Laws
  • Study of Representative Elements
  • Surface Chemistry
  • The d-block and f-block elements
  • The Gaseous State
  • The p-Block Elements
  • The Periodic Table
  • The s-Block Elements
  • The Solid State
  • Thermodynamics

High School Biology

  • Absorption and Movement of Water in Plants
  • Adolescent Issues
  • Anatomy of Flowering Plants
  • Animal Kingdom
  • Bacteria and Fungi-Friends and Foe
  • Biodiversity and Conservation
  • Biofertilizers
  • Biological Classification
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biomolecules
  • Biotechnology and its Applications
  • Biotic Community
  • Body Fluids and Circulation
  • Breathing and Exchange of Gases
  • Cell – Unit of Life
  • Cell Cycle and Cell Division
  • Cell Division and Structure of Chromosomes
  • Cell Reproduction
  • Cellular Respiration
  • Chemical Coordination and Integration
  • Circulation
  • Control And Coordination
  • Crop Improvement
  • Digestion and Absorption
  • Diversity In Living Organisms
  • Ecosystem
  • Environmental Issues
  • Excretory Products and their Elimination
  • Flowering Plants
  • Genes and Chromosomes
  • Health and Diseases
  • Health and Its Significance
  • Heredity And Evolution
  • Heredity and Variation
  • How Do Organisms Reproduce?
  • Human Diseases
  • Human Eye And Colourful World
  • Human Health and Disease
  • Human Population
  • Human Reproduction
  • Hygiene
  • Improvement In Food Resources
  • Integumentary System- Skin
  • Kingdom Fungi
  • Kingdom Monera
  • Kingdom Protista
  • Life Processes
  • Locomotion and Movement
  • Microbes in Human Welfare
  • Mineral Nutrition
  • Molecular Basis of Inheritance
  • Morphology of Flowering Plants
  • Neural Control And Coordination
  • Nutrition in Human Beings
  • Organism and Population
  • Photosynthesis
  • Photosynthesis in Higher Plants
  • Plant Growth and Development
  • Plant Kingdom
  • Pollination and Fertilization
  • Pollution; Sources and its effects
  • Principles of Inheritance and Variation
  • Reproduction and Development in Angiosperms
  • Reproduction in Organisms
  • Reproductive Health
  • Respiration in Human Beings
  • Respiration in Plants
  • Respiratory System
  • Sexual Reproduction in Flowering Plants
  • Strategies for Enhancement in Food Production
  • Structural Organisation in Animals
  • Structural Organisation of the Cell
  • The Endocrine System
  • The Fundamental Unit Of Life
  • The Living World
  • The Nervous System and Sense Organs
  • Tissues
  • Transpiration
  • Transport in Plants

High School Math

  • Algebra – Arithmatic Progressions
  • Algebra – Complex Numbers and Quadratic Equations
  • Algebra – Linear Inequalities
  • Algebra – Pair of Linear Equations in Two Variables
  • Algebra – Polynomials
  • Algebra – Principle of Mathematical Induction
  • Algebra – Quadratic Equations
  • Binomial Theorem
  • Calculus – Applications of Derivatives
  • Calculus – Applications of the Integrals
  • Calculus – Continuity and Differentiability
  • Calculus – Differential Equations
  • Calculus – Integrals
  • Geometry – Area
  • Geometry – Circles
  • Geometry – Conic Sections
  • Geometry – Constructions
  • Geometry – Introduction to Euclid’s Geometry
  • Geometry – Three-dimensional Geometry
  • Geometry – Lines and Angles
  • Geometry – Quadrilaterals
  • Geometry – Straight Lines
  • Geometry – Triangles
  • Linear Programming
  • Matrices and Determinants
  • Mensuration – Areas
  • Mensuration – Surface Areas and Volumes
  • Number Systems
  • Number Systems – Real Numbers
  • Permutations and Combinations
  • Probability
  • Sequence and Series
  • Sets and Functions
  • Statistics 
  • Trignometry – Height and Distance
  • Trignometry – Identities
  • Trignometry – Introduction

Middle School Science

  • Acids, Bases And Salts
  • Air and Its Constituents
  • Basic Biology
  • Body Movements
  • Carbon and Its Compounds
  • Cell – Structure And Functions
  • Changes Around Us
  • Chemical Effects Of Electric Current
  • Chemistry in Your Life
  • Coal And Petroleum
  • Combustion And Flame
  • Components Of Food
  • Conservation Of Plants And Animals
  • Crop Production And Management
  • Electric Current And Its Effects
  • Electricity And Circuits
  • Elements and Compounds
  • Fibre To Fabric
  • Food production and management
  • Force And Pressure
  • Forests: Our Lifeline
  • Friction
  • Fun With Magnets
  • Garbage In, Garbage Out
  • Getting To Know Plants
  • Health and Hygiene
  • Heat
  • Hydrogen
  • Life Processes: Nutrition in Animals and Plants
  • Light, Shadows And Reflections
  • Materials: Metals And Non-Metals
  • Matter and Its States
  • Metals and Non-metals
  • Micro Organisms: Friend And Foe
  • Motion And Measurement Of Distances
  • Motion And Time
  • Nutrition In Animals
  • Nutrition In Plants
  • Organization in Living Things
  • Our Environment
  • Physical And Chemical Changes
  • Pollution and conservation
  • Pollution Of Air And Water
  • Reaching The Age Of Adolescence
  • Reproduction In Animals
  • Reproduction In Plants
  • Respiration In Organisms
  • Rocks and Minerals
  • Separation Of Substances
  • Simple Machines
  • Soil
  • Some Natural Phenomena
  • Sorting Materials Into Groups
  • Sound
  • Stars And The Solar System
  • Structure of Atom
  • Synthetic Fibers And Plastics
  • The Living Organisms And Their Surroundings
  • Transfer of Heat
  • Transformation of Substances
  • Transportation In Animals And Plants
  • Universe
  • Waste-water Story
  • Water: A Precious Resource
  • Weather, Climate And Adaptations Of Animals To Climate
  • Winds, Storms And Cyclones

Middle School Math

  • Addition
  • Area and Its Boundary
  • Boxes and Sketches
  • Data Handling
  • Fun With Numbers
  • Heavy and Light
  • How Many
  • Long And Short
  • Mapping
  • Measurement
  • Money
  • Multiplication and Factors
  • Multiply and Divide
  • Numbers
  • Parts and Wholes
  • Pattern Recognition
  • Patterns
  • Play With Patterns
  • Rupees And Paise
  • Shapes And Angles
  • Shapes And Designs
  • Shapes and Space
  • Similarity
  • Smart Charts
  • Squares
  • Subtraction
  • Tables And Shares
  • Tenths and Hundredths
  • Time
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