Biospere Flashcards Preview

Geo 101 > Biospere > Flashcards

Flashcards in Biospere Deck (36):

ecological biogeography

Studies how animals are distributed in relation to the environment. Studies factors that define spatial distribution of species in present time.


historical biogeography

The study of how species distributions have changed over time in relationship to the history of the earth, as well as how those changes have contributed to the evolution of biota’s.


human effects on biological systems

Biodiversity loss is the key factor affected by human activity, followed by the nitrogen cycle and climate change.



Often temporal, in years. Scale also refers to the size of a community from as small as a community in a termite gut to a large global scale response to species response to climate change.


space-time domain

The four-dimensional continuum of one temporal and three spatial coordinates in which any event or physical object is located.



An organism capable of synthesizing its own food from inorganic substances using light or chemical energy. Green plants, algae, and certain bacteria are autotrophs.



a biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment.


ecosystem goods

The ‘products’ or ‘things’ a ecosystem provides us with such as fresh water and clean air.


ecosystem services

The services an ecosystem performs for us such as; purification of air and water, maintenance of biodiversity, decomposition of wastes, soil and vegetation regeneration and renewal, pollination of crops and natural vegetation, groundwater recharge through wetlands, seed dispersal,greenhouse gas mitigation, and aesthetically pleasing landscapes.


energy flux

Movement of energy which is an important basis for food chain interactions, the dynamics of climate, and the distributions of ecosystems around the world.



An organism that cannot manufacture its own food and instead obtains its food and energy by taking in organic substances, usually plant or animal matter.



a large naturally occurring community of flora and fauna occupying a major habitat, e.g. forest or tundra.



The process by which a species spreads out over a landscape. (eg. by wind)


ecological niche

the role and position a species has in its environment; how it meets its needs for food and shelter, how it survives, and how it reproduces


limits to distribution

the geographic boundary beyond which a species does not occur.


population disjunction

The separation of taxa by landmasses. (continental drift) For example the Ratite birds.(big birds like ostrich and moa prolly had a common ancestor when the lands were together. Population disjunction is when the population is disjuncted. word)


taxonomic hierarchy

Taxonomy is a branch of science. It is about the laws and principles of classifying things. From one type of taxonomy, many classifications might be produced.

-Naming of taxonomic groups follows ‘rules’ devised by Carolus Linnaeus

-Organisms are grouped by similarity of structure into larger groups

Domain > Kingdom > Phylum > Class > Order > Family > Genus > Species


biological hotspots

Areas of both high endemism ( state of a species being unique) and heavy human pressure.


species-area relationship

a relationship between the area of a habitat, or of part of a habitat, and the number of species found within that area. Larger areas tend to contain larger numbers of species, and empirically, the relative numbers seem to follow systematic mathematical relationships.


island ecosystems

Island ecosystems have fewer species than the mainland and richness in endemism and diversity.



Species are unique to a defined geographic location and are not found anywhere else.



the movement of individuals (animals, plants, fungi, bacteria, etc.) from their birth site to their breeding site ('natal dispersal'), as well as the movement from one breeding site to another ('breeding dispersal').



(Compared to their mainland relatives many insular organisms undergo evolution in body size.)
Removal of constraints related to predation and/or competition.



Compared to their mainland relatives many insular organisms undergo evolution in body size.)
Constraints associated with the limited area and food supply available on islands.


biogeochemical cycles

Biogeochemical cycles includes:
Carbon cycle. *
Hydrogen cycle.
Mercury cycle.
Nitrogen cycle. *
Oxygen cycle.
Phosphorus cycle. *
Sulfur cycle.
Water cycle. *
Diagrams for all cycles are under biogeochemical cycles on Wikipedia.


nutrient cycles

A cycle where nutrients from organic and inorganic matter are exchanged among the biomass, soil and litter. Weathering of parent rock provide nutrients to soil allowing plant and animal uptake transferring nutrients to the biomass. Living organisms in the biomass cause littering transferring the energy to the litter in which litter are decomposed and nutrient is sent back to the soil. Nutrients also loses under rainfall where surface runoff and leaching occur in the litter and soil


carbon cycle

the series of processes by which carbon compounds are interconverted in the environment, involving the incorporation of carbon dioxide into living tissue by photosynthesis and its return to the atmosphere through respiration, the decay of dead organisms, and the burning of fossil fuels


nitrogen cycle

the series of processes by which nitrogen and its compounds are interconverted in the environment and in living organisms, including nitrogen fixation and decomposition.


phosphorus cycle

The series of processes by which phosphorus is eroded from uplifted geological landscapes that then flows into natural water systems and may percolate into soil or flow into large bodies of water and sink to the bottom, becoming sediment which will not surface until another geological uplift occurs. Phosphorus is a limited nutrient.



The process in which most primary producers produce their food as they turn H2O + CO2 and using light energy they make C6H12O6 (glucose) + O2


primary productivity

the rate at which biomass is produced per unit area by plants, the primary producers

Net primary productivity: The total fixation of energy by photosynthesis - loss as heat


Clementsian succession

Succession; ‘ changes over ecological time scales.’
This change over time is in the composition of a patch of vegetation in the absence of disturbance.


climax community

Climax is the ‘end’ of succession after which the community does not change.

Clements argued that all successions within a climatic region would approach the same climax state - monoclimax.

Tansley and others argued that the other factors such as edaphics also influence the climax state - polyclimax.
Species composition and community structure are stable (self-perpetuating



Disturbances are discrete in time (so not chronic stress or background environmental variability) • e.g. fire, windthrow, floods, earthquakes, insect outbreaks, etc.


primary succession

Development on a newly formed surface (i.e no pre-existing soil)


secondary succession

Recovery of composition, structure and function following disturbance of an existing ecosystem.