Chapter 3: Ecosystems and the Biosphere

The (a) Karner blue butterfly and (b) wild lupine live in oak-pine barren habitats in North America. This habitat is characterized by natural disturbance in the form of fire and nutrient-poor soils that are low in nitrogen—important factors in the distribution of the plants that live in this habitat. Researchers interested in ecosystem ecology study the importance of limited resources in this ecosystem and the movement of resources (such as nutrients) through the biotic and abiotic portions of the ecosystem. Researchers also examine how organisms have adapted to their ecosystem. (credit: USFWS)

Learning Outcomes

After studying this chapter, you should be able to:

  • Describe the basic types of ecosystems on Earth
  • Differentiate between food chains and food webs and recognize the importance of each
  • Describe how organisms acquire energy in a food web and in associated food chains
  • Discuss the biogeochemical cycles of water, carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur
  • Explain how human activities have impacted these cycles

 Chapter Outline

  • 3.1 Energy Flow through Ecosystems
  • 3.2 Biogeochemical Cycles
  • 3.3 Terrestrial Biomes
  • 3.4 Aquatic Biomes
  • 3.5 Chapter Resources

Attribution

Essentials of Environmental Science by Kamala Doršner is licensed under CC BY 4.0

License

Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Chapter 3: Ecosystems and the Biosphere by Matthew R. Fisher, Editor is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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