The Ecotron

2011 was the International Year of Forests

(2012 is the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All)


Biozone Ecology workbook - Components of an ecosystem

Topic 2: Ecosystems




Worksheets: Biozone Ecology workbook - Food Chains and Webs

(Source: Biozone PowerPoint - Introduction to Ecosystems)


Food chains & food webs - glossary of terms & examples

Decomposition in action!



Biomes worksheet - Ecology Workbook
Pearson - Biomes - descriptions of each
SharePoint -> 2-Ecosystems topic, Biomes PowerPoint & Teaching Point PowerPoint

Why Biomes are where they are - the background

The video is embedded here:

More detailed explanation of the tri-cellular model of atmospheric circulation, explained in the above video:

Overview of key concepts and cells

Why it`s faster to go from London to New York than the other way round

The video is embedded here:

Tri-cellular model =>

Gizmo - Seasons in 3D

Discovery Education video: Biomes: Our Earth's major life zones

Refer to the following PowerPoint on the School Portal -> Year 11 Resources -> Diploma Programme -> Group 4 -> ESS
Introduction to Ecosystems - BIOMES - IB ESS

* Another very useful resource for this task is the Holt Environmental Science pdfs for Chapter 6 (Biomes).

You can find the link for this in the Text Resources link in the wiki navigation pane.

Other resources which may help with this task:
Definition of limiting factor and Law of Tolerance -
Definition of NPP (net primary productivity) - is defined in the IB DP ESS Glossary of Terms file on our wiki, check the IBO ESS Documents tab


Introducing pyramids of biomass

Ecological pyramids from Mr G



Read Rutherford p48-54 and make notes.
Distinguish between pyramids of numbers, of biomass and of productivity.
Give advantages & disadvantages, and examples of each.
Compare & contrast bioaccumulation and biomagnification.
Do Ecology workbook - bioaccumulation and biomagnification.
Complete the "to do" on p52, "test yourself" questions on p52-53 and the "to do"'s on p54 & 55.
Supplement your notes with Pearson, p16 - top of p19.




Keeping the economic stock, cash and flow analogies going a bit longer... we now embark on PRODUCTIVITY

Quick - write an equation to show the relationship between the following 3 factors:
Net income
Gross income
(compare your answer to the dot point 2.5.6 below)


Productivity definitions from our ESS Glossary... (yes, we must be familiar with all of them)
It is measured in units of flow (eg. grams per metre squared per year or joules per meter squared per year)



WORKSHEETS - Calculating Productivity => NPP, GPP & R

Mrs Sasaki's class answers thus far to the above worksheet...

The whole story, in regard to productivity:

See from the above link - the light and dark bottle experiment for Measuring Primary Productivity explanation, also, the Patterns and Controls of Primary Production of the Worlds Ecosystems

Refer to these figures which compare the productivity of biomes relative to their percentage coverage of Earth, and therefore their total input to total productivity:

...the above source:
(also an excellent source for showing how ocean circulation regulates primary production of biomass - see links on the webpage)

Q: Why is productivity so high in the oceans, but accounts for such a small % of productivity on Earth?
A: "...most of the primary production is concentrated in microscopic algae. Algae have short life cycles, multiply rapidly, do not generate much biomass relative to their numbers, and are eaten rapidly by herbivores."

Q: Which herbivores eat phytoplankton (the microscopic algae, which are the base of the marine food chain)?
A: Cetaceans (eg. baleen whales), fish, invertebrates, zooplankton

And of course, from the ever awesome Mr G!


NPP and the Human species

The real importance of NPP

The video is embedded here:

Plant Productivity in a warming world


Other resources:
Pearson ESS Text - p52-55
Rutherford ESS Text - p31-33

Modelling secondary production in a snail:

AP Bio summary (methods to measure):

Read the articles referred to at the top of the Experimenting & Calculations tab (on the navigation pane on the left), on the scientific method and variables in experiments.
Review relevant text sections from Rutherford & Pearson (the texts you have).

Gizmo - Effects on new life form - see Experimenting & Calculations tab

Lab - measuring an abiotic factor => pH changes in a neutralisation reaction - an introduction to accuracy
-> using - universal indicator, pH meters and datalogger with pH probe

Experimenting & Calculations (refer to tab in navigation pane)
Statistics - standard deviation & the t-test
Simpson`s Diversity Index


Energy flow animation:

Pearson: p19-23

Refer to the following PowerPoints on the School Portal -> Year 11 Resources -> Diploma Programme -> Group 4 -> ESS

The Ecological Niche - IB ESS
Populations & Interactions - IB ESS


Nice & Law of Tolerances => Ecology workbook pages 23-27 & page 12
Species Interactions => Ecology workbook pages 63-64
Worksheets:** Ecological Niche and Competition

(Source: Biozone PowerPoint - Introduction to Ecosystems)

Succession & Climax Communities


For example, intertidal zones


If you can stand to listen to this, it does cover the key concepts in an audio-visual format...

Productivity, Succession and P:R


READING: Pearson Textbook, p68-69

Estimating abundance of organisms & the Lincoln Index




Gizmo: Estimating population size

Points to consider...


Dichotomous keys

Can be shown diagrammatically or as written keys (such as in the field guides you used at Tioman Island)

A quick review of taxonomy, phyla & species binomial nomenclature:

Here is an example of each:



TASK: Use the organisms shown in this diagram to construct a graphical and a corresponding written classification key for any eight of the species shown. Remember to use physical characteristics as the basis of their identification for classification. Research a species name and include that in the final step for classifying each of the eight organisms you choose for your dichotomous key.



S & J Population Curves, r & k strategists

Video from Discovery Education online - Biologix: Patterns of Population Growth and Management

(the above file name should read S, J, r & k, as "K" = carrying capacity, while "k" refers to k-strategists)


Survivorship Curves


Photosynthesis and (Aerobic) Respiration

1. Record the equations for each process from Ch5.1 - Energy Flow in Ecosystems (Au: Holt, Text resources link)
2. What do you notice?
3. Identify the inputs, outputs and energy transformations for each process.
4. Why could the reaction shown for respiration also be termed "aerobic respiration"? How does that differ from anaerobic respiration? (specifics are not required)
5. What wavelengths of light are important for photosynthesis?
6. Energy is released by respiration in the form of a molecule, ATP, but is ultimately lost to the environment in what form?

Using the information gained above, create a table to compare and contrast Photosynthesis and Aerobic Respiration in terms of:

Chemical Equations
Inputs (Reactants & Form of energy)
Outputs (Products & Form of energy)


Review and Extension of Energy Flow in an Ecosystem



We have made reference to biomass and productivity at times thus far...
let`s really get to know what these mean and why they are important concepts relating to ecosystems.

Pre-reading -


Biomass definition from our ESS Glossary...
It is measured in units of mass or energy (eg. grams per metre squared or joules per metre squared)

An introduction to the concept of biomass:

Starting points for our evaluation of methods for estimating biomass

Two methods are provided in this NPP experiment procedure:
How to determine heat content of biomass (or dry weight of foods, for example) - Enthalpy of a sunflower seed practical
Here's how they do it in the food industry, in a bomb calorimeter
Measuring dry weight biomass vs the other density, frequency & cover as we have previous done:

Is there limited reliability in estimating biomass?

Further reading:
The relationship between biomass, biodiversity and climate change:

Some information on BIOFUELS - and their potential as alternative energy sources:


The link to the article source of the above image:

Back to Biomes

Why Biomes are where they are - the background

The video is embedded here:

Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs)


The Great Barrier Reef

The Australian Government, Great Barrier Reef, Marine Park Management Authority; example projects requiring an EIA

The Great Barrier Reef Oil Spill, April 2010

The Great Barrier Reef Environmental Changes Expedition

The GBR: Crown of thorns starfish outbreaks

The GBR - Coral Bleaching

An example EIA:

The cynical side of EIAs

International-mindedness and EIAs

A more positive view of EIAs from Brunei

A Singapore story of an NGO (Non-government organisation) and an EIA

An example of the tightly regulated EIA procedures in Australia

Another kind of EIA

Ecological sampling - quadrats

Many thanks to Mr Adrian Palmer (SJI, Singapore & Patana, Bangkok) for this powerpoint and quadrat activity:



Vernier labs link


Ecological sampling methods

Biogeochemical Cycling

Can be defined as:
Cycling of a single element, compound or chemicals by various abiotic and biotic processes through the various stores found in the biosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere.


The WATER Cycle (The Hydrologic Cycle)



Source (and an excellent explanation of the hydrologic cycle and oceans in general...):

The water cycle animated diagram

Recall the animation we looked at in our Systems & Models topic: Transfers and transformations: some examples for the water cycle - Pearson Hotlinks

Gizmo: The Water Cycle

Evapo-transpiration animation

The CARBON Cycle

Overviews of Carbon and Nitrogen cycles - read these first
The importance of C, H, O & N






Animation of exchange of carbon between the atmosphere and the biosphere

The carbon cycle as storages and flows animation

The carbon cycle is terrestrial and aquatic

A closer look at the carbon cycle - NASA


The nitrogen cycle animation





The nitrogen cycle from Physical Geography


An interesting journal article abstract regarding modelling, nutrient cycles, and ecosystems over the long term.

A summary of trends in ecosystem character

Productivity, Climax and Diversity - from Mr G (from the previous course Environmental Systems)

Examples of research in this area of ecology, many focused on modelling

REVIEW - Concept Mapping Activity