Week Two

 

Ecosystem Structure, Function, and Change

 

Describe structural and functional dynamics of ecosystems.

 

Identify how humans affect biogeochemical cycles.

 

Explain how knowledge about ecosystem structure and function can be applied to ecosystem management and restoration.

 

Course Assignments

 

Readings

 

Read Ch. 5–6 & 9–10 of the text.

 

Review animation and video clip resources available for these chapters.

 

Read this week’s Electronic Reserve Readings.

 

Individual Assignment: Biotic Components Paper

 

Select a representative natural ecosystem in your area such as preserves or parks that are managed for native species.

 

Write a 700- to 1,050-word paper explaining:

 

o The major structural and functional dynamics (processes) of that ecosystem including change over time

o How humans may have affected biogeochemical cycles in that ecosystem

 

How knowledge about that ecosystem’s structure and function can help or has helped to develop plans for its management and restoration

 

Include two outside references.

 

Format your paper according to APA standards.

 

 

Discussion Questions

 

Identify a natural ecosystem in which you live or one near to where you live? How does this ecosystem support you? At what tropic level are you? Why?

 

Why can it be difficult to identify the boundaries of an ecosystem? How can environmental scientists resolve this boundary issue when studying an ecosystem?

 

Why is understanding biogeochemical cycles important to environmental science? Provide an example.

 

What are the similarities and differences between an ecosystem and an ecological community? How does this apply to your community?

 

Because ecosystems change and may recover naturally from disturbance over time, what factors affect decisions about whether human intervention is needed to help ecosystem recovery? Provide examples.

 

What are some human impacts on the natural cycling process of ecosystems in your community?

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